IRVING, Texas -- Every day in practice, the defense opens practice the same way. The players run over bags at full speed with coaches on either side, hollering encouragement.
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wants his defense to be fast and furious. The drill might seem monotonous, but Marinelli is trying to perfect habits.
Head coach Jason Garrett has called Marinelli a great speaker and his speech on habits is at the top. Marinelli said it is more than an oft-repeated coaching mantra: you are what you repeatedly do.
“It’s also the day to day grind of this thing and that’s what you have to be able to teach,” Marinelli said. “The habits are easy to understand in a classroom setting. It’s a whole different world when you’re come out there in the heat, in the pads and you’re trying to be able to keep doing the same things over and over but better.
“Tedious repetition of the simplest movements every single day. That is tough to do. That is really tough to do but that’s what you shoot for. In this system it’s really important because we’re based so much on fundamentals. The standard is us as coaches. We have to set the standard in terms of that because you see over the course of the year your drill work can start going downhill a little bit. You can’t allow [bad habits] to creep in on you. What happens is you get guys starting to get beat up and they can’t practice as well. ... It sounds incredible but you lose them quick. You’ve just got to stay on them.”
Marinelli wants his guys to enjoy the grind, no matter how difficult.
“If we do it day to day, reps, reps, reps after reps, then it’s like branded in us and we do it in games,” defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said. “It’s great. I believe in it. I know all the players believe in it.”