Will Marinelli start Mora makeover?

Seahawks president Tim Ruskell and new head coach Jim Mora apparently aren’t wasting time refashioning Seattle’s coaching staff.

With departing head coach Mike Holmgren still packing his stuff this week, it has been reported by several news sources that recently fired Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli is in town to interview for a position on Mora’s staff.

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Team sources would not confirm the report. However, it is believed the Seahawks are interested in adding Marinelli to the coaching staff, perhaps as defensive coordinator.

Marinelli has connections with Seahawks team president Tim Ruskell and team vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster from his days of coaching the defensive line at Tampa Bay. Marinelli coached Tampa Bay’s defensive line for 10 seasons, the last four while also holding the title of assistant head coach.

The Lions fired Marinelli after Detroit became the first NFL team to finish a season 0-16. In three seasons with the Lions, Marinelli had a 10-38 record.

Marinelli has said he wants to return to coaching soon after his forgettable tenure in Detroit.

Marinelli had an informal interview with Chicago coach Lovie Smith on Friday for a defensive coaching position with the Bears.

Smith and Marinelli are friends from their days coaching together in Tampa Bay and share the same agent, Frank Bauer.

Bauer told the Chicago Sun-Times that Marinelli has a number of opportunities to coach in the NFL and is taking his time to explore his options.

Seattle appears to be looking to change things up defensively after current defensive coordinator John Marshall struggled to get his defense to play up to expectations.

All 11 starters on defense returned in 2008 from the team that ranked 15th in the league in 2007.

The 2007 squad allowed a league-low 15 touchdown passes. It intercepted 20 passed, tied for fourth in the league.

But injuries and inconsistent play contributed to a Seattle team that ranked 30th in the league in total defense in 2008 – last in the league against the pass and 18th against the run.

Seattle allowed 25 touchdown passes this season, tied for third worst in the league.

Marinelli’s defense in Detroit wasn’t any better. The Lions ranked 29th overall defensively, 27th against the pass and last in the league against the run.

Creating some uncertainty in Marinelli’s credentials is the fact that the 59-year-old coach has never served as a defensive coordinator in his NFL coaching career.

That said, it’s not a surprise the Seahawks are considering hiring Marinelli. Despite his unsuccessful run in Detroit, Marinelli is considered one of the best defensive line coaches in the league and is known as a disciplinarian who demands the most out of his players.

Departing coach Holmgren had an interest in bringing Marinelli to the Seahawks early in his Seattle tenure. But Holmgren was twice denied by Tampa Bay a chance to talk to Marinelli.

Another candidate for defensive coordinator could be former University of Washington defensive coordinator Ed Donatell.

During Mora’s three seasons as head coach at Atlanta, Donatell was his defensive coordinator. Donatell has not taken a position with another team and is thought to be still in the Seattle area, though he remains under contract with the Huskies through the 2009 season.

Bringing in Marinelli could be the beginning of several changes for Mora’s Seahawks. Oakland offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp has been rumored to be taking the same job in Seattle, which could mean the end of Gil Haskell’s nine-year tenure as Seattle’s offensive coordinator. Knapp served as Mora’s offensive coordinator in Atlanta.