For the second time in three weeks, the Bucs will face a former coach as Tampa Bay goes on the road to face the Detroit Lions and head coach Rod Marinelli. Marinelli was on the Bucs coaching staff for 10 years, coaching the defensive line from 1996-2006 and serving as assistant head coach as well from 2002-05.
Two weeks ago, the Bucs faced off vs. Indianapolis head coach Tony Dungy, who is the former Tampa Bay head coach from 1996-2001. The Bucs didn't have much success in facing Dungy as Tampa Bay fell to the Colts in a 33-14 loss, along with losing running back Michael Pittman for 6-8 weeks with an ankle injury.
Tampa Bay is hoping for better success with their road trip to Detroit and hopeful that the injury bug that has bitten them in the last couple of weeks doesn't jump up again. Marinelli and defensive coordinator Joe Barry know the Bucs as well as any coaches in the NFL. Barry, who is Marinelli's son-in-law, served as the linebackers coach from 2001-06.
Even though Marinelli tried to downplay the matchup against his old team, he admitted that he will always remember his time in the Tampa Bay area.
"You guys know me and you could probably write my answer, but I will give it to you anyway," Marinelli said. "Every time I have played against an opponent it's always been a gray matter with me, it's all about us and especially this week it's all about us. Saying that, we do play them and I am very fortunate to have been there, I know that. It was a great 10 years and I had a chance to be there with coach [Tony] Dungy, Coach [Jon] Gruden, to win a Super Bowl, [former Bucs general manager] Rich McKay, [general manager] Bruce Allen and [defensive coordinator] Monte Kiffin and all those players that are going to the Hall of Fame and those guys that were just high-motor guys, just great motor guys. That's something that's in your mind forever and it's locked in. I'm very grateful and very fortunate to have been there with great owners."
Marinelli worked under Kiffin during his 10-year career and was able to learn a lot of things about coaching and had some great times. From a detail-oriented game plan to talking about nothing but football, Marinelli enjoyed his time on the Bucs staff and has a lot of respect for Kiffin.
"He's a special guy. I think it's the details. How hard we worked not just in season, but in the offseason on Friday when every other staff is golfing, we are out there until five o'clock in the afternoon standing out on the field having a fit drill because that's what we liked to do," Marinelli said. "It was just neat to be there and being around; we were all active with [former Bucs linebackers coach and current Chicago head coach] Lovie [Smith] there and [former Bucs defensive backs coach and current Pittsburgh head coach] Mike [Tomlin] and Joe [Barry] we just loved it. It's fun, just so much fun coaching football all the time and that's all we did. When we would get together all we would talk about is football. It's about details, doing things exactly right and within that being extremely physical and the hustle and all those things. I've always said that Monte is the full package."
Kiffin has similar memories of his time working with Marinelli in Tampa Bay.
"We go way back now, 1996 the first time that we walked into that old One Buc Place, he, Lovie, [former Bucs defensive backs coach and current Kansas City head coach] Herm [Edwards] and myself. I didn't know any of them," Kiffin said. "We had never met each other before. We all started back then. He's a heck of a coach. We were actually together for 10 years and he's not only a special coach, but a special friend. We are very, very good friends. We had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs and a lot of ups and downs. I have to tell the story when we started 0-5 and then 1-7 in 1996. We couldn't find the ‘A' gap from the ‘B' gap and I was the coordinator and those guys didn't know me and I didn't know them and they're thinking does this defense really work, this defense that you and Dungy brought here…but we hung in there and we ended up 6-10 and then took off in 1997."
There are still several players on the Bucs defense, including linebacker Derrick Brooks, cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly, defensive tackle Chris Hovan, defensive end Greg Spires and safety Will Allen, that played for Marinelli during his tenure in Tampa Bay. The players always have smiles on their faces when talking about Marinelli and the affect he had on their careers.
Spires especially talked about how Marinelli made him the player that he is now and remembers a lot of lessons that came from his former coach. Nineteen of Spires' 38.5 career sacks came under the direction of Marinielli.
"When I got here, the No. 1 thing he helped me with was using my hands and once I got that down I became the player I wanted to be so I have to give him the credit for that," Spires said. "He preached a lot of things, but the one thing that sticks with me is, ‘You can't get better if you don't show up.'"
Brooks' lasting memory of Marinelli was the consistency of his ways as a coach on the field and during games.
"He is consistent," Brooks said. "He always talked about pounding the rock and doing things consistently while enjoying doing them. That's tough to do. He's put that mindset in Detroit. You can see that on tape."
INJURY UPDATE Defensive end Patrick Chukwurah (shoulder), cornerback Brian Kelly (groin) and tight end Alex Smith (ankle) didn't practice with the team on Wednesday. Wide receiver Joey Galloway remains on his normal routine of not practicing on Wednesday and defensive end Greg Spires (ankle) was limited in practice. Wide receiver Ike Hilliard (shoulder) participated fully in practice.
Chukwurah and Smith were injured in the 13-10 victory vs. the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Kelly was held out of the game with a groin injury that has been bothering him since Week 1.
QUOTE OF THE DAY Jon Gruden on quarterback Vinny Testaverde leading the Carolina Panthers to a 25-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Testaverde went 20-for-33 for 206 yards and one touchdown.
"If Jeff can play this well with Vinny [playing this well at age 43], then Jeff has got the chance to play 7-10 more years. He's a former Buc. We're really proud of Vinny Testaverde. He's one of the great guys I know. If you've seen Vinny, if you know Vinny you know – you know physically he's capable of doing it. He's a freak that way. I'm really happy for him. I just wish he wasn't playing for the Panthers."
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