While we’ve discussed the Raiders to the point of parsing the entire roster, areas still go under-discussed. With all due respect to the head coach and general manager, the true heart of the defense resides in one place. As always, the defensive line will be the main point of emphasis this or any year. With stats and opinions, we’re going to paint the most accurate preseason picture.
For nearly a quarter of a century, Rod Marinelli crafted quality defensive lines for nearly the entirety of that stretch. Through instruction and furious attention to the rotation, Marinelli sticks to his principles. He wants to shuttle linemen in and out of the lineup. As a result, that helps to wear defenses down late. Granted, every lineman may not possess the same talent level. Yet, Marinelli, likes to use depth to overwhelm opponents. With Marinelli in the fold, defenses appear to immediately improve.
Smother the Run
Under Marinelli, his defensive lines will constrict the run. In my opinion, that plays heavy into this. With fresh defenders, offenses can’t bludgeon lines with a slow, plodding running game. Marinelli stifles the run. Under normal circumstances, that requires monster interior linemen. Yet, Marinelli shuffles in smaller, quicker tackles to penetrate.
As Dallas’ defensive coordinator, Marinelli’s defensive line was strictly tasked with generating pressure. In fact, in 2019, the Cowboys blitzed only 23.2 % of the time. Meanwhile, the Raiders only blitzed 103 times. That appears like there is common ground between Guenther and Marinelli. They love to win with four and drop seven.
The Survivor Apprentice
Despite coaching turnover, assistant defensive line coach Travis Smith endured. He’s one of the longest-tenured Raiders football employees. Starting off as a linebacker coach, Smith worked side by side with talent. Now, he serves as Marinelli’s apprentice. If Paul Guenther gets the ax, Marinelli will assume the role, with Smith taking over the line.
The Raiders traded PJ Hall, but he failed the physical and the Vikings rescinded the trade. Hall found his way out, anyway. Granted, he arrived to camp last, overweight. Yet, you’d think Marinelli could take a project like Hall, with those capabilities and mold him into a player. Now, it speaks volumes that, Hall found his way out of town. That speaks to Marinelli’s presence. The Raiders terminated a second-round pick without hesitation. The Raiders will improve upfront. Under those circumstances, the other seven players need to keep up. In reality, Marinelli could be a perfect fit.