Q&A: Defensive Line Coach Denny Marcin
by David Oliver
Camp was winding down and the coaches were in a relaxed mood. One more day of Albany, then on to football. I button holed Coach Marcin and we had a very relaxed one on one, in which the Coach was personable, straight forward and shared some insights with us.
I began by asking him if he had anything with this group of linemen. He told me he thought so, but “I haven’t seen them all together in a while.” So I followed up by asking if that was going to be a problem. He answered, “Well, yeah, it’s a little bit of a problem right now; like Kenny, I gotta see how it all fits together and I haven’t seen it. Yes, it is a little bit of a problem.”
One of the things that kept coming into our conversation was the point that this isn’t rocket science, that there is a lot of guesstimate and a synergy between the position Coach and the player. Which I found interesting from a personal perspective. See, I’m one of those guys who, for an entire career lifetime was classified as unmanageable or incapable of supervision, if not down right insubordinate. Just a personality flaw. I always tell me not to ever give me an order, a simple request will do. When people asked for whom I worked, I always said I worked for no one but I worked with a lot of people. I’ve found Coach Marcin to be one of those rare guys, a leader I would do some things for, if I had the chance, because he’s been there, done that. In the words of the Marlon Brando character in ON THE WATERFRONT (rough paraphrase), if I had the luck to be with a Coach like this when I was younger “I couldda been a contender.” So his insights into the game and the players interests me.
I asked him if any of the young guys had caught his eye. His answer:
“Put it this way, a lot of the young guys have done a good job; they’ve picked up the stuff fairly well and they’re giving good effort, and, you know, we’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out.. There are a couple of guys, well, like I told them all when we started, a couple of guys are going to make this team; I don’t know who you are…so, we’ve got another week or so to see what’s up.”
Now, here are some keys to making the Giants I picked up in our conversation. I’ll cap them as they come up for emphasis.
Starting with the premise that everyone has some talent (more below) GIVING GOOD EFFORT IS IMPORTANT.
I followed up by asking about decisions and discussing the guys on the bubble. I asked Coach if he went into the meeting with a list of does this well, can’t do this, could be trained to do this. He answered: “Oh, yeah, you have to, because you have to see some quality; some have better strengths; if you have the ability to rush the passer, that’s a pretty important thing for a young kid because most young kids out of college, they don’t do that very well. In college there’s so much running the ball, and even though some teams are throwing the ball now, they don’t practice it (pass rush) nearly like we do., so there is a big difference in that aspect. If you find a kid who can do some of those things, that’s where it really helps, and it aids them, and I told them that. I said you young guys, if you can rush the passer and I see that, it makes a big difference.” He continued on to tell me that they all have “these little things and you as a Coach have to figure out what’s going to be important down the road, say, these guys make your team and do this and do that, contribute.”
Okay, so you have some talent, and you have a motor. DO YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO GENERATE A PASS RUSH? See Christian Peter and Cedric Jone in this regard. When taking a look at the current guys, check out Lance Legree and Ross Kolodziej this week. And don’t forget Frank Ferrara. We discussed bringing guys into camp, and Coach said the Giants try hard to do a good job to bring kids in that have something, that could make the team. He said that there are a lot of factors including college coaching. He used an example of one kid who was doing things a certain way and he asked why. Turns out the kid had three different line coaches in college. So he was a prospect, but a lot of teaching would be involved.
I asked him if he still had the fire in his belly and he laughed and said “Fire – I still have more fire than a lot of young guys, for Pete’s sake. Yeah, I got some fire.” I asked him if he would be satisfied to finish his career as a position coach or did he have aspirations to move up, or on. He told me he’d be happy if someone would tell him he could stay with the Giants and finish his career, that “I’d be a happy camper.” He said that he liked it with the team and that “I don’t need to move anymore. My next move is down to north Carolina to retire, whenever that is. I just bought a lot down there between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. I coached there for 10 years (UNC).”
I asked, hypothetically, how this unit, if it ever plays together, stacks up against previous Giants’ fronts. He told me “this possibly could be the best year we’ve had, but again, it’s a big ‘if’ because, like I say, right now we’ve got two of the front four, that’s it. And, you have to remember, because people forget that about Corenlius Griffin, most of his reps last year were rushing the passer, not playing the run, so there’s some learning yet; we didn’t put him in the Hall of Fame, yet, you know.”
I continued on this line asking about the coordination with Brandon Short and the new corners and he said, “Oh, yeah, there are a lot of things in there, but I think all that will work out, but, you know, there’s still a learning factor. It took Strahan and these guys a couple of years to learn what we are trying to teach. It’s not easy. In fact, the we play our ends a little bit different than most people, so it takes a little bit more potty training.”
So you have a motor, you can rush the passer, but YOU CAN’T BE ONE-DIMENSIONAL OR SITUATIONAL. FLEXIBILITY AND SMARTS ARE ESSENTIAL TO THIS DEFENSE.
In that respect I asked about Cedric Jones (CJ) and opined that I was a little confused as it appeared to me that last year, for the first time CJ had shown something and poof, Ernie Accorsi says sayonara. There was a whimsical half laugh, almost sardonic and then he said, “One thing about Cedric, he was a very smart player and was never out of place. Now, you wouldn ‘t always say, well do this or do that, but he was always in the right place. If you ran a reverse, Cedric would be right there, you know; he’s not down the line somewhere else; a very intelligent player, but see, everybody’s got these little traits and you’ve got to make sure they use their traits. Coaching to me is one thing, it ‘s motivating your players; if you’ve got good players and they’re not playing good, something is wrong. You’ve got to find out what it is; that’s all coaching is, as long as you are sound in what you are doing, and they play hard for you, that’s the key, you’ve got to play hard, and if they do that, you are going to be all right.”
MOTOR, PASS RUSH, FLEXIBLE AND SMART, PLAY HARD.
We talked a little about the kind of camp it has been for him and again he evinced some frustration with the injuries, especially because, he told me, his unit generally hadn’t been hit so hard. But, with some resignation, he told me “things happen you know, but as long as they’re minor, that’s just part of the game.”
We concluded on the process of cuts and he was sincere as he explained, “It’s always tough because there are always a couple of kids that are right there and you have to try to make sure you make the tight decisions; this is like taking griffin in the second round. I had him projected first, he could be gone already, and boom, he’s still there, so that’s important because, you know, you could have that first rounder that’s not very good and everybody gets all over you. There are always these…you have to project a little bit because you’re not going to see everything.”
There you have it. An engaging personality, a good, tough Coach who loves what he’s doing, loves the game, loves the Giants. If you want to play for Denny Marcin, he’s laid out the keys. Not cliché, just simple straight forward elements he looks for in assessing his players.
Tomorrow is the last preseason game. As you watch the tape, see if you can pick out who will stay, who will go.