The Chicago Bears kicked off training camp 2009 today in front a large crowd of around 6,000 fans. Talk is the large attendance to practice was a record for a Chicago Bears practice. Undoubtedly the large crowd came to see one player, Jay Cutler.
Cutler didn’t disappoint either hitting Devin Hester and a long deep pass and Greg Olsen on another play down the seam. All completions that the fans want to see from the new franchise quarterback.
While in the eyes of the fans today may have been all about Jay Cutler, the real fact is today’s practice provided the first real look at new assistant head coach and newly minted defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
During Mini-Camp and OTAs the media wasn’t allowed to be in the vicinity of the practice field where Marinelli had the players working. Today however was a completely different story as they were allowed to be up front and in the action.
Action there was in typical Marinelli fashion he was on the D-Lineman and on them hard. Marinelli is the prototypical great D-Line coach, he is what you want in a tough as nails and every other superlative you can throw out regarding a good coach.
Why do I know this? I’ve seen Marinelli in action first hand. Way back when he was just starting his career out at Arizona State. Marinelli was a bad ass, take no prisoners you will do as your told coach. The likelihood that he could physically kick the ass of every D-Lineman on the roster is highly probable. That’s how tough Marinelli is. At ASU they were famous for a similar tough as nails coach, Frank Kush. Marinelli was described as a lot like Kush, the same type of mouth, the same type of motor and the same type of toughness. Marinelli even strutted like Kush while at ASU and it made ASU fans highly gleeful to see such a hard ass return to Tempe.
Like most great coaches they don’t change the style that made them successful and today we learned that Marinelli has not changed one iota in the years he’s been a coach in college or in the NFL. He still runs with a high motor and mouth demanding violence with every rep the D-Lineman take. He works them hard, insisting on never stopping for breaks and never loafing.
The good news here is that Marinelli will demand toughness as well as stamina in his lineman. Making sure that he wears them out in training camp so they won’t be totally gassed in the fourth quarter when the Bears need a big stop to win a game.
Marinelli is a former Marine, and it’s been said he’s a better sergeant than he is a general, pun intended. The enlisted Marine always gets the most respect, they’re typically old crust and leathery quite the tough men. Having seen it all and done it all and demanding from their Marines or in this their players stuff that they would do themselves. Marinelli is all of that and he will likely weed out the weaklings and keep the real football players around.
Marinelli is likely the best thing that could have happened to this group under performing and under motivated lineman. We all know the Bears’ defense has been at their best when the front four performs at a high level. The likelihood we see improvement out of that front four this year with addition of Marinelli seems highly likely.
While we won’t see the true impact of Marinelli until the pads go on, you can see that there is a change in the mood in the front four and things will be different from here on out.
Elsewhere in camp Danieal Manning had cramping issues and was held out most of the activities today. The report it is nothing serious and he should be back on the field tomorrow for the first full pads practice of camp. In the mean time Craig Steltz was back holding down the starting free safety spot while Manning was absent.