Rod Marinelli takes over the Las Vegas Raiders' defense on a short week. The long-time defensive coach isn't concerned with who is at his disposal Thursday night against the Los Angeles Chargers, he just wants his players to play fast and ferocious.
"We feel we got a good handle on who's up, and I think at that point you show belief in men," Marinelli said, via the team’s official website. "And we're going to get it done. I don't care who's up, who's not. But the non-talented things, the things that take no talent: effort, hustle, knowing exactly what to do, being discipline, staying onsides. That takes no talent. That just takes guys that want to. I'm going to build off of want-to this week.
"It's a short week, but that's what I enjoy and rally men around, to really go play hard and fast in any circumstances."
Marinelli takes over after the Raiders fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther following Sunday's 44-27 trouncing at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts.
The Vegas D has allowed 30.1 PPG this season (30th in NFL), 21 rushing touchdowns (T-most in NFL with Detroit), 384.2 total yards per game (25th in NFL), a 50 percent third-down conversion rate (T-29th), and 40-plus points in three games this season (T-most in NFL).
In recent weeks, the Raiders' defensive struggles have been pronounced, allowing 37.5 points per game since Week 11.
At times, like the 43 points surrendered to Atlanta, the Raiders' offense hasn't helped, coughing the ball up repeatedly. At others, injuries have gutted an already shallow unit.
Marinelli believes his philosophy of playing simple and fast will bring the best out of the Raiders defenders.
"I'd start with game one right now," Marinelli said. "I want to see discipline, knowing exactly what we're doing. Know exactly. It takes no talent; I keep saying that. And I want to see great energy and great tackling, and gang tackling. Guys are hustling to the ball, and I think when you see that, they enjoy it. And I just want to see that part of it -- that we really enjoy this game. And you can't enjoy it just one or two guys, it's got to be a team defense. And defense is about team -- quick, fast and physical.
"Quick, fast and physical. That's what I keep preaching and we'll see."
Marinelli has been an NFL defensive coach since 1996 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, into Gruden's Super Bowl-winning stint with the Bucs. After bottoming out as a head coach with Detroit, Marinelli has coordinated defenses in Chicago (2010-2012) and, most recently, Dallas (2014-2019).
The Cowboys defense perked up at the beginning of Marinelli's tenure and bottomed out this year without him at the helm. Gruden is counting on at least a slight uptick in play from the defense with the new coach in charge as the Raiders cling to waning playoff hopes.
The Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders kick off Thursday night from Allegiant Stadium at 8:20 p.m. ET, airing on NFL Network, FOX and streaming on Amazon Prime Video.