Jon Gruden believes new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will make a huge impact on the defense as a whole this season.
When asked about improvement the team needs to make during a conference call with media members on Thursday, Gruden quickly referenced Marinelli.
“Well, first, we better eliminate the penalties. Where we rank in this league on defensive penalties is a reflection of me. And we are going to fix it, and I think Rod Marinelli is going to be a big part of that,” Gruden said. “Staying on sides, some of those penalties were ridiculous and they got to be solved. We can’t be 31st in the league in generating turnovers to be a good football team in the league. We got to get more turnovers and it starts with the pressure up front. But I think we have a chance to be much, much better.”
Gruden’s praise for Marinelli helps explain a drastic move he made in January. After Marinelli and the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff was fired, Gruden, out of the blue, fired defensive line coach Brentson Buckner and replaced him with Marinelli. Buckner did a nice job last season with the Raiders — the only reason Gruden made the move was he had to jump at adding Marinelli.
Marinelli was Gruden’s defensive line coach and assistant head coach in Tampa Bay from 2002-05. The 71 year old has been considered one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL for several years.
Gruden is anxious to see the impact Marinelli makes on a line that features several young players including 2019 draft picks Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, and free-agent addition Maliek Collins (who was in Dallas with Marinelli.)
Gruden said Collins has to “raise hell” from his defensive tackle spot.
Fellow young players, 2018 draft picks Maurice Hurst, P.J. Hall and Arden Key, all need to make steps under Marinelli. It would be a huge surprise if Hurst’s roster post is in jeopardy. But both Hall and Key have to show the Raiders something in the next month if they want to make the team.
“They have to prove they belong in this league. They have to prove that they can be front-line guys,” Gruden said. “P.J. Hall, Hurst, Key, those are three guys that we used high draft picks on. Arden’s got to stay healthy, P.J. Hall, I’m anxious to see where his weight is, he came in overweight last year — not at that position, can’t happen. Mo Hurst has had some good moments, but we need these guys to burst on the scene, no question. Getting Rod Marinelli is the best thing I can do to allow that to happen.
“I really believe he’s as good of a coach as I’ve ever seen when it comes to developing defensive line. I saw him do it with Simeon Rice, I saw him do it with a number of players along his career and I’m counting on that happening.”