Aug 122002
 
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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!

Aug 232001
 
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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.