When the Raiders let Brentson Buckner go, I will be honest, there was a bit on anger. In Buckner, the Raiders enjoyed a young defensive line coach, with years of playing experience. Additionally, they could benefit from how his player interaction and sense of accountability. When the news scrolled across Twitter, a wave of unhappiness followed. Them Rod Marinelli’s name surfaced. I can’t type my initial feel because there are not enough expletive spaces. Yet, after calming down, I firmly believe that Rod Marinelli could be the biggest offseason pickup for the Raiders’ defense. What he brings to that side of the ball cannot be understated in the least.
Marinelli and Jon Gruden share a long-time friendship. Marinelli coached under Gruden in Tampa. As we all know by now, Gruden loves to surround himself with familiar faces. In Marinelli, familiarity exists, working for Gruden during their Super Bowl campaign. Meanwhile, Paul Guenther cannot claim the same depth of the working relationship. That Super Bowl ring matters heavily in this situation. Remember, those Tampa teams dominated at the line of scrimmage. Granted, the line featured one all-time great and a perennial Pro Bowler. Yet, Marinelli’s front four prospered.
If you look at how the Raiders attacked the free agency period to this point, you can hear Marinelli’s voice in the proceedings. First, Maliek Collins played for Marinelli in Dallas. Collins immediately secured the starting spot. As a result, Maurice Hurst jumps into the rotation and PJ Hall could see his snaps cut significantly. Next, Carl Nassib, for what the Raiders are paying him, will remain on the field. First order of business must be turning Cleiln Ferrell into a consistent contributor, worthy of his fourth-overall selection.
Marinelli loves rotating players more than Guenther did. Expect the Raiders to keep a fresh rush on the field at all times. This will energize the pass rush, making the secondary’s job much easier. Additionally, look for the Raiders to address the defensive line in the draft. Now, not high, but somewhere in the middle rounds. Edge defenders, regardless of draft status remain a coveted commodity. Players like Alton Robinson could be a great fit on Day Three. If you want a Robinson physical comp, Robert Quinn, another former Marinelli player.
In all honesty, Rod Marinelli does not need this job, at all. At 70 years old, he’s enjoyed a full career in the NFL and college. With that, he will not press to keep his job. Instead, he will take a measured but aggressive approach to the defensive line. Meanwhile, Paul Guenther must look over his shoulder. If the defense, as a whole fails, that will end his run with the team. Marinelli, in effect, plays with house money. Paul Guenther, on the other hand, needs significant schematic success, immediately. With Vegas a reality now, no delay. The Las Vegas Raiders need to field a quality defense from Week One. That starts with the defensive line.