When the Raiders retained Rod Marinelli, a collective groan washed over the fanbase. How could they bring someone back from a defensive line that generated no pass rush? Instead of dismantling the whole operation, Jon Gruden did the opposite. Marinelli kept his job in Vegas. On top of that Gus Bradley’s arrival really did not change the overall defensive line dynamic. Now, going forward into 2021, Marinelli will face issues and situations that require his full attention.
The Raiders opened free agency with a flourish, then subsequent depth signings that should dictate the future of the unit. First, Yannick Ngakoue brings an explosion and burst off the edge. Other than Maxx Crosby, the unit lacked any palpable ability to get home. inside, Solomon Thomas and Quentin Jefferson look to provide inside push and disruption. Marinelli will now coach a deep defensive line. Now, no one said talented, but with these numbers, he needs to cobble together a quality pass rush
For what seems like an eternity, Marinelli proponents touted his relationship with David Irving. The former Cowboy provided little in his two games with the Raiders. After resigning him, the Raiders expect something from Irving. In return, Marinelli also needs to redeem himself regarding his former Dallas pupils. We all remember what a colossal failure Maliek Collins was. Marinelli’s reputation and this team’s future hangs in the balance.
Now or Never
Entering his third year, the jury is no longer out on Clelin Ferrell. His athletic profile does not appear to match his lofty draft status. Marinelli, under intense hope, must figure out a way to maximize Ferrell. To this point, Ferrell profiles as a two-down run-stopper. In the past, the Raiders kicked him inside as a three-technique. Now, with Solomon Thomas, that could mean less of that. As months blend, as the season inches closer, something, anything positive out of Clelin Ferrell will be a bonus.
Meanwhile, Carl Nassib and his nine-million dollar salary also loom large. Without absorbing a cap hit, the Raiders cannot cut him. As a result, another player on the defensive line occupies a spot that many believe he should not. After two-and-a-half sacks in 2020, Nassib remains on the roster. With the depth on the line, Marinelli’s best tact remains subpackages, at best. The Raiders overpaid for a reserve. Now, Marinelli must fix their mistake.
Although his distinguished career should answer the naysayers, Marinelli replaced a younger, more energetic coach in Brenston Buckner. From the outside, it looked like Jon Gruden replaced a highly effective, hard-nosed coach with his friend. From that point, the pass rush suffers. Granted, Paul Guenther’s defense did not strike fear into anyone. However, with a new scheme and talent upgrade, Rod Marinelli sits officially out of excuses.