Cowboys' McClain: Marinelli has 'took the reins off and let us play'
IRVING, Texas -- Entering this season, arguably the most important adjustment for the Dallas Cowboys was how newly appointed defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli would tinker with the defense after it finished last in the NFL in 2013.
Many Cowboys defenders that were on last year's team have discussed the tweaks Marinelli has made in the 4-3 scheme that was originally implemented by Monte Kiffin a year ago.
But the changes didn't just come during the offseason. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain, who was signed in July, has seen the adjustments made throughout the first few weeks.
"He gave us more freedom, let us just play," McClain said. "Be loose. Make plays. We had to earn his trust, so to speak. Once we did that, he saw we played better when we were more relaxed and calm, so he kind of took the reins off and let us play."
Through four games, the Cowboys are 24th in total defense (379.8 yards per game) and 10th in points allowed (21.5 per game). Last season, Dallas allowed 415.3 yards and 27 points per game.
"We're just playing loose," McClain said. "We're just playing free. That's a good thing. We're playing for one another. That's the most important thing. Everybody's doing a better job of being on the same page. Just playing for each other. You can't let the other 10 guys down."
The typically high-powered New Orleans offense came into Week 4 averaging 26 points per game. The Cowboys held Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints to 17 points.
Did that win last Sunday night make it easier for McClain and his teammates to buy in to Marinelli's system?
"Nah. I think we were already bought in. We've been bought in," McClain said. "The Saints are a great team, but it's just something to build off. It just lets us know that when we play together and execute the scheme, we can be good."
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