Cowboys pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware has been an outside linebacker since he entered the NFL.
But according to new Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, the transition to defensive end in a 4-3 defense might be just what he needs.
The 30-year-old Ware had “just” 11.5 sacks last year while struggling with injuries, after racking up 99.5 in his first seven seasons.
“I think it’ll aid him a little bit, because your takeoff is better,” Marinelli said of Ware, via the Dallas Morning News. “Your keys are a little more consistent with what you’re doing. That’s my opinion. I see him, I mean he’s an elite rusher right now. I just think the more opportunity he has, doing the same things every day, every week, the repetition, which allows you to become even faster.
“The sky is the limit for him, I believe.”
The hope is that some of those sacks turn into forced fumbles, as the Cowboys forced just 16 turnovers last season. Marinelli’s defense in Chicago led the league with 44 takeaways.
“I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself and the player on one-on-one wins, because the back row, we’re leaving them hung out,” Marinelli said. “They want to break on the ball. And they want to make plays on the ball. But if that guy reloads, reloads, it takes away their aggressiveness. So it’s my job to help those guys trust the rush by, not by talking about it, but by seeing it on tape.
“I think more than 50 to 60 percent of takeaways come from the pocket. It could be a sack-fumble or a ball is thrown high or thrown too quick or guys are breaking or tips, things like that. A major part of those things are from the pocket. It could be a blitz or a four-man rush. Make the guy throw it quick or throw it high.”
Getting Ware healthy for a change and back to his previous form will be a crucial first step in that process.