Marinelli appreciates return to playoffs

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Rod Marinelli made frequent trips to the playoffs during his ten seasons -- 1996-2005 -- with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Marinelli, the Bucs defensive line coach, was part of six playoff berths --1997, 99, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, including one Super Bowl title in the 2002 season.

Unfortunately, that Tampa success didn't transition to Detroit, where Marinelli served as head coach from 2006-08, and presided over the only 0-16 team in NFL history.

Two seasons after the Lions debacle, Marinelli is back in the postseason after a four-year absence.

"A lot [of appreciation] when you understand how hard it is to get here, and you go through from camp -- all those things – but it's every game, and they all come down to the wire every week," Marinelli said. "So it's about every detail. It's about every inch. So when you get this opportunity, it's special."

It's still Lovie Smith's defense in Chicago, but Marinelli -- the defensive coordinator -- deserves plenty of credit for developing players like Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton and Israel Idonije. All three are having career years thanks in large part to the tutelage of Marinelli, whose primary responsibility remains the defensive line.