If the Cowboys are ever to become a Super Bowl contender again, the most important guy in the building could be Rod Marinelli.
And, ever so quietly this fall, the Cowboys are giving their defensive line coach a chance to have that type of an impact going forward.

The NFL has evolved into a very simple game with two basic tenets. First, you need a quarterback. If you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a chance. Second, you need a pass rush. If you can’t pressure the Tom Bradys, Peyton Mannings and Ben Roethlisbergers, you don’t have a chance.

The Cowboys believe they have that quarterback in Tony Romo. Jerry Jones is gambling $108 million there’s a championship somewhere in his aging right arm.

But the pass rush needs some work.

Last April, Jones boasted the defensive line was a strength of his team. But end Anthony Spencer and tackle Jay Ratliff won’t play a down this season because of injuries. Ratliff is already gone, and Spencer, who turns 30 next season, might not be back.

The right side of the line also has age. Tackle Jason Hatcher is 31 and his contract is up at the end of the season. End DeMarcus Ware is 31 and has missed the last few games with a strained quadriceps.
The older you get, the more vulnerable you become to injury — as we’ve seen this season. Age also slows the healing process. Older players don’t bounce back as quickly from injuries. That’s why the golden rule in the salary cap era is never pay age.

The Cowboys must get younger, healthier and better on the defensive line.

Without much fanfare these last few weeks, the Cowboys may be doing just that — if Marinelli is indeed the best defensive line coach in the NFL, which the Cowboys believe him to be.

The Cowboys signed tackle Drake Nevis off the streets on Sept. 24, tackle Marvin Austin on Oct. 21 and end Everette Brown on Oct. 29. None of those signings made headlines, but all have the potential to become headliners.

All are young, and all have talent.