Q&A: Defensive Line Coach Denny Marcin
by BBI Reporter walterb
walterb: Are you comfortable rotating one of the tackles in for plays during the game?
Denny Marcin: I always try to do that because tackles have a tendency to wear down a little bit during the game – so I try to. Now last year was a little different – we had a couple tackles that had never played in an NFL game. So you know I was a little careful. Then we got into some tight ball games, so some of that depends on the game. But yes, I would like to rotate guys – especially at the tackle spot. And the ends too – I mean Strahan played a thousand snaps last year – that’s a lot.
walterb: With this group this year, do you feel more comfortable rotating them in?
Denny Marcin: Yeah, no question about that – that’s a given. These guys have been in ball games, they got a year under their belt. Last year I believe we were the only team in the National Football League to get four backups that never had played one minute of an NFL game. None. So now they’ve got a year under their belt.
walterb: And has someone like Holmes adjusted better in his second year to your schemes?
Denny Marcin: Yeah, I think so – you know we had some mental errors last year, he’s cleaned those up a little bit right now in the early going – so that’s a plus for him and he seems to be picking up things more freely than he did a year ago. Last year everything was tougher you know. This year he’s flowing a little bit better.
walterb: And what do you attribute the difference to?
Denny Marcin: I think a year in the system. Our system is not real easy to learn, it’s a pretty complex system, we have a lot of fronts, we do a lot of blitzing, and they are very complex – and you know for a guy to come in here after one year and master it right off the bat, it’d be tough.
walterb: Of the backup tackles, who has shown you the most so far in this camp?
Denny Marcin: Well, I’d say we’ve got the two guys back Lance Legree and Ross Kolodziej. There are two guys really, one is Dwight Johnson who’s been flipped between tackle and end – we’re trying to see if he can learn both spots and if he can do well in both spots, and there is Matt Mitrione from Purdue. He’s another kid who’s making plays. And that’s what I tell him – the bottom line is you got to make plays. Don’t look good coming off the bus – you got to look good on the field and make plays.
walterb: What’s up with Cedric Scott? Has he played up to expectations?
Denny Marcin: Cedric is still learning, you know, he had the injury last year, he missed five or six weeks – so he got behind in everything. I’d say he’s starting to come on a little bit better than what we saw.
walterb: Over the last decade or so how have rule changes changed defensive line play in the NFL? Have there been significant changes?
Denny Marcin: Well, I’ve been in the league six years and really the rule changes for us I think have been minimal. I don’t think there’s anything along those lines that have really changed from what I could tell.
walterb: The general fan knows about techniques like the rip move, the swim move, the bull rush, how many more subtle techniques are there?
Denny Marcin: There’s a lot. However, most of the good pass rushers for example, like Strahan – he has got two moves. The most you can master are two. You can try the other ones, but I believe this: the most you can master are two, unless you’re somewhere out there from outer space.
walterb: And beyond those two, what other moves are there?
Denny Marcin: Well you’ve got some club moves, some counter moves. In other words, if you’re trying one of your rips and the guy’s got you then you’ve got to find a way to come back the other way, so you’ve got to develop some counter moves. And the guys that usually have done well are guys that have used their hands well. In other words, when a guy puts his hands on you, they can bat them down – and then it’s like a table – you’ve got four legs, two arms, two legs, and you break one down, now you’ve got a better chance – so that’s what you try to do.
walterb: What offensive linemen in the NFL have the best hands, in your opinion?
Denny Marcin: There’s quite a few. There’s Orlando Pace, I’ve known him since Ohio State days – Ogden, there are a lot of good players. And they are BIG bodies – and that’s the one thing I don’t think people understand, these guys are about six ax handles wide across the tail, and it is just hard to get around big guys. It takes twice as much energy to rush the passer as for that guy to block for the passer – so you get worn out real quick. It’s not real easy getting the sack.
walterb: How much does speed mean to an offensive lineman? Is that an over-rated metric?
Denny Marcin: Guys that can take up a lot of space, they don’t really need a lot of speed because just the size of them means a lot if they can move okay – you don’t have to be a speed demon.
walterb: How would you characterize your defensive line philosophy as compared to the rest of the league?
Denny Marcin: We’re what we call a one-and-a-half gap team; in other words, we don’t line up our guys and run them up the field. We do ask our guys to do a little bit of reading, but within that they have some options that they can utilize depending on certain factors. We can get up the field when we see a back doing this, that, whatever it may be. So there are some parameters where we can get out of a run mode we’re reading, and BOOM rush the passer.
walterb: The read-and-react defense, is that defense still kicking around the NFL? Are there versions of it?
Denny Marcin: Yeah, we do some of it; but we’re trying to be aggressive when we read. It’s not like we’re sitting on the line and doing some two gap stuff – we do some of it, but basically our stuff is ‘hey, get up the field as best you can’ and react off of that.
walterb: What are your feelings on the chemistry of the team this year – the defense especially?
Denny Marcin: I like it. I like the whole chemistry of our team. I’m the eternal optimist, so, I always think we should be good. From what I see right now we’ve got is a good blend of veterans and young guys making plays. Guys feed off of that. Just like Shockey’s catch the other day, or LeBlanc play when he intercepts it – Hamilton ran all the way down the field on the sideline, all the way down the field. Dinkins makes the hit the other day; everybody was down at the end of the bench – that’s good stuff!