(Courtesy of the Las Vegas Raiders)
Rod Marinelli has been named the defensive line coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, the club announced Wednesday. Marinelli is entering his 25th season as an NFL coach, having spent the previous seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, including the last six as defensive coordinator/defensive line coach. Marinelli brings 44 years of coaching experience to the Raiders, including 24 in the NFL.
In his seven seasons with the Cowboys, Marinelli helped the club capture three NFC East titles (2014, 2016 and 2018), having advanced to the divisional round in each of those three seasons. Marinelli’s defense finished in the top-10 three times (2017-19) in total yards allowed during those seasons, while leading the league in rush defense in 2016 with the fifth-best rushing average allowed (83.5 avg.) in franchise history.
Last season, the Cowboys ranked ninth in the NFL and third in the NFC in opponent yards per game (327.0 avg.), as the team improved its pass defense ranking from 13th in 2018 to 10th in 2019, allowing just 223.5 yards per game. The unit also finished 11th in the league in points allowed per game, ending with an average of 20.1, marking the fourth consecutive season averaging less than 21 points allowed per game. Under Marinelli, DE Robert Quinn led the defensive unit with 11.5 sacks on the year, tying for ninth-most in the NFL. LB Jaylon Smith finished sixth in the NFL with a career-high 142 tackles.
For five consecutive seasons (2014-18), Marinelli’s defense improved its total ranking from the year prior, finishing seventh in 2018 after ranking eighth in 2017. The defensive unit also forced 20 turnovers on opposing offenses for the third consecutive season in 2018, en route to landing three Cowboy defenders’ Pro Bowl honors including two second-team All-Pro selections.
Prior to joining the Cowboys in 2013, Marinelli spent four seasons with the Chicago Bears, serving as the team’s assistant head coach/defensive line coach in 2009 before spending the next three seasons (2010-12) as the club’s assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. Over his three years leading the defensive unit, the team forced a league-best 59 fumbles and recorded 65 interceptions, third-most in the NFL over that span, while returning a league-high 13 interceptions for touchdowns. His defense also allowed just 904 points during that same time frame, the fourth-fewest in the NFL.
Before his tenure with the Bears, Marinelli spent three seasons within the division with the Detroit Lions as the team’s head coach from 2006-08. Ahead of his arrival in Detroit, Marinelli spent the first 10 years (1996-2005) of his NFL coaching career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his first five seasons, he was the club’s defensive line coach, spending the last four (2002-05) with the added title of assistant head coach alongside former Buccaneers and current Las Vegas Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden.
Over his 10 seasons with the Buccaneers, the defensive line tallied an NFL-best 328.5 sacks. His tenure in Tampa Bay was highlighted by a 2002 campaign that saw the team capture a Super Bowl XXXVII victory led by the NFL’s best defense, as the Buccaneers held opposing offenses to a league-low 252.8 yards and 12.3 points per game. Prior to 2019, the team’s top-five single-season sack totals all came under Marinelli’s tenure (1997, 1999-2000, 2002 and 2004), with a franchise-best 55 sacks recorded in 2000 that still holds today. From 1999-2003, the team logged a sack in 69 consecutive games, marking a new NFL record.
Before making the move to professional football, Marinelli coached for 20 years at the collegiate level, serving as the defensive line coach at USC (1995), the assistant head coach/defensive line coach at Arizona State (1992-94), the defensive line coach at the University of California for seven seasons (1983-89), while also adding the title of assistant head coach during his final two years (1990-91) with the program. Prior to Cal, Marinelli started in the collegiate ranks with Utah State in 1976, where he spent six seasons (1976-81) as the defensive line coach before transitioning to the offensive line and special teams in 1982.
Prior to his coaching career, Marinelli played offensive tackle in college, beginning at Utah in 1968 and finishing at California-Lutheran from 1970-72 after having his playing days split by a tour of duty in Vietnam. As a senior in 1972, Marinelli earned All-American honors for Cal-Lutheran on the offensive line.
A native of Rosemead, Calif., Marinelli’s first coaching job came as an assistant at his alma mater at Rosemead High School (1973-75).