Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
While preparing for last week's trip to visit to Bourbonnais, Ill., I read my fill of Rod Marinelli stories. By now, I think we all know that Chicago coach Lovie Smith hired Marinelli to light a fire under his defensive line. And that Smith hailed Marinelli as the best free agent available in the offseason and darn near crowned him a miracle worker as it relates to defensive line play.
So I'll spare you the usual gab and take you straight to the people involved. Whenever I had a chance, I asked a Bears defensive lineman to tell me one thing that has stood out about Marinelli's approach thus far in camp. Has he taught you a new technique? A different stance? A new way of approaching the pass rush?
The answers, I thought, were interesting and almost always different. Marinelli has impacted each Bears defensive lineman in a different way. Getting improved play from the defensive line this season is no less important than Jay Cutler improving the quarterback position, after all.
Let's start with some words from Marinelli, who took me through his primary coaching points, and then we'll roll through the players.
Rod Marinelli: "Some of the things I always talk about are the non-talented issues. Things that don't take talent. Things like effort, knowing what to do, fundamentals, and finishing. That doesn't take anything in the way of talent. That just takes great attitude and great want. You get really good players like we have, and then you get them doing those things and really playing fast, then I think you really improve quickly."
Idonije Israel Idonije: "I think the biggest thing that I love about him is his intensity. He's got this focused intensity, which kind of translates into the players. The way that he comes into work every day is just on another level. It goes to us to step up. He's intense. But he's not a crazy guy yelling for no reason. He's very focused in his intensity: Here's what I want. Focus in. Lock in. I love that.
"He's definitely been giving us some keys. Like, when something in particular happens, he'll tell you what the consequence is going to be 100 percent of the time. And because of those keys, we're better. It works. I'm telling you, it's amazing. The guy is brilliant."
Mark Anderson: "Marinelli is real big on details. He wants you doing all the little things right. He tells you there is a reason for everything, every little thing that we do. The 'why' is important. Why we call certain plays. Why we line up in a certain defense versus this offense. Anything you can think of, he has a reason for.
"It helps you because now you're understanding why you do certain things. Before, a coach might tell you, 'Run this certain stunt.' Then we just run the stunt. Since Marinelli came in, we know why we're doing the stunt. Maybe it's because it will help the linebacker come free. Maybe it can help us on the pass rush. There's a reason for it and we're starting to understand that."
Tommie Harris: "The main thing he teaches is focus. That's his main basis of what it is. Just teaching you how to endure through anything. He's just constantly positive. Positive, positive, positive. He doesn't really dwell on the negative. He wants you to separate what you should be focusing on from what you shouldn't be."
Jarron Gilbert: "I've learned more in training camp and during the OTAs than I have ever learned as a defensive lineman. He just really emphasizes getting off the line of scrimmage and playing fast. That's the biggest thing. Rod says to just get off the ball and he can fix the rest. Then he wants you to have mental toughness and just be in shape and ready to go."
Alex Brown: "He makes us believe that we're going to be better. We've go
tten stronger up front, but we've brought in a really, really good coach and he's taught us a lot of good things. He has no issues and no problems with us as far as listening and believing in what he said because of his track record and the things he's done in Tampa. All you have to do is turn on the film and watch those guys actually rush.
"I grew up a huge Tampa fan, so I watched those guys through college. It was amazing, the things they could do and how fast they could get back to the quarterback. They had the athletes to do it, Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice and those guys. But Marinelli teaches you to be smart while you're rushing in. It's not always athleticism or effort. Sometimes it's being smart, and you can actually get to the quarterback without using as much effort. He teaches you things that allow you to be more efficient."