The Dallas Cowboys have elected to promote Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator ... while also keeping Monte Kiffin on the team, according to Rowan Kavner of the team website. Marinelli was the defensive line coach this past season, while Kiffin was the defensive coordinator. But instead of firing Kiffin, they've named him the assistant head coach/defense.
Dallas allowed the most yards in franchise history, and the second-most points in franchise history, with Kiffin at the helm last year. The Cowboys made the switch from the 3-4 to a 4-3 under Kiffin and, as the aforementioned stats indicate, things did not go well.
As for why this move was made, head coach Jason Garrett gave a statement, via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com:
"Rod Marinelli's production in terms of creating turnovers and changing field position as a defensive coordinator is well documented," coach Jason Garrett said in a statement from the Cowboys. "Monte Kiffin's overall knowledge and understanding of this defensive scheme will be put to use in mentoring all of the players and coaches on the defensive side of the ball. Monte was brought here to direct a transition in philosophy to the 4-3 scheme, and he will continue to oversee the development of our defense in this scheme."
It's clear Marinelli will now be in charge of the overall scheme and the gameplan going forward. It will be his defense as the Cowboys look to recover from an abysmal 2013-14 campaign, but even with that statement above, it's unclear what Kiffin will actually be doing in the end. It's not often you see these kinds of backwards or sideways moves and have the coach remain with the team.
Marinelli was the Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator from 2010-12, and excelled in the role. That Chicago team was especially effective at creating turnovers and turning said turnovers into points before the ball ever got back into the offense's hands.
But it wasn't only defensive coaches that got shuffled, as there were significant changes to the offensive coaching staff as well. Dallas will now see its third play-caller in as many years as the team hired Scott Linehan to be its passing game coordinator. He takes the play-calling duties from offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who retains his position. Callahan originally took the play-calling duties from Garrett, who many thought could be fired this offseason.
Also in the report from ESPN, Garrett talked about Linehan, saying that the Cowboys "believe the combination of him and Bill Callahan working closely together will give us a great chance to build upon the strides we made offensively last year."
Still, the defense has a lot more work to do than the offense. Dallas had the No. 14 pass offense (247.1 yards per game on average) and No. 24 rush offense (94.2 yards per game on average), but fielded the No. 30 pass defense and No. 27 rush defense. Marinelli has a much taller task than Callahan and Linehan at this point.