OXNARD, Calif. -- Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said he has no doubt about whether the Tampa 2 defense will work with this team.
"None. Zero. None. Zero. None. Done it too long," he said. "I believe in it. I guess, there are two things: One, when you believe in the system and believe in myself as a teacher, we’ve had great success with it; we know it works.
"It really fits really talented players too – from Julius Peppers to Henry Melton. Henry Melton came out as a running back out of Texas, he made the Pro Bowl as an under tackle last year. It’s all those things. It’s having the talent, but this system forces that talent level to rise with effort, getting to the ball. I have great confidence in it. I always have."
There are some concerns about whether the new defense can handle read-option offenses. The Cowboys will face Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins' read-option offense twice a year. First-year coach Chip Kelly will use the spread-option with the Eagles, likely with Michael Vick at quarterback. When Kelly coached at Oregon, his offenses beat up Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's defenses when he was the D-coordinator at USC.
The Cowboys play the Redskins and Eagles in consecutive weeks twice during the 2013 regular season. Taking on speedy quarterbacks such as Vick and Griffin is a challenge. Vick said over the summer that he's still one of the fastest players in the NFL, and of course Griffin is one of the more talented players in the NFL.
"We play spread offenses every week in the NFL," Marinelli said. "When I played Oakland in the Super Bowl (with Tampa Bay) they were a spread offense; it just works, you just have to execute. The thing about this league, you also have to stop a tremendous passing game. They may run the read-option three or four times in a game -- you change your defense just for that. I mean, these guys can throw the football. They can throw the football; your system has to adjust to them."
A 4-3 defense has one less linebacker, so that might not be suited to handle the quarterbacks rushing off the edge. But Marinelli doesn't think about whether it's a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. The type of personnel you have is the key to slowing spread and read option offenses.
"I think it's based on rules," he said. "Defenses are based on rules. You have rules and certain guys got the dive (player) and certain guys got the quarterback and certain guys got the pitch, so it's built in. You may go three weeks without seeing it, you know, so you constantly have to stay on it. It's like the Wildcat. You had to go back and have rules for all those things for it."