Denver Broncos safety McCree doesn't hit pause button

Safety has to be quick on feet to get defense aligned, in right spots

Article by Jeff Legwold,
Rocky Mountain News
August 6, 2008

Marlon McCree doing speed technique in the acceleration ladder with
Phil Campbell at Scripts Ranch High School, San Diego, CA

ENGLEWOOD - He who hesitates is "in trouble," Broncos safety Marlon McCree said. "A lot of trouble. That's just bad, real bad. You have to line up and make a decision."

So when things got rearranged at safety for the Broncos - John Lynch was granted his release from the team last week - it was McCree who went from situational player to full time.
And it is McCree, one of the Broncos' most sought-after free agents in the offseason, who certainly faces plenty of expectations to do his part to repair a defense that struggled on many levels in 2007.

"He's an athlete - instinctive, smart, he knows (pass) routes," Broncos defensive coordinator Bob Slowik said. "Verbal, decisive and makes good open-field tackles.

"If you have a confident guy in that position, it kind of is contagious in the whole secondary. If you have a guy that's a little timid, maybe not real confident, that also creates a little doubt in other guys' minds about if we know what we're doing."

When the Broncos break the defensive huddle and get themselves aligned before the snap, McCree's voice is easily heard. As the free safety, he is expected to see where the offense lines up and adjust the Broncos' coverage calls accordingly.

He is expected to do it quickly, with little wasted time or motion.

"If you don't get that done, you're kind of playing hesitant, and that's not good, sound defense," McCree said. "I like to get the call out, get it early, and it helps everybody focus on their responsibility. It helps me, too - I get lined up, make my calls, so then I can analyze the field, see where my guys are at.

"You want to have a little more time to see where the threats are. I'm ready for that, I look forward to it. I thrive on that kind of pressure. I like being a guy people depend on."
Despite starting for Chargers teams the past two years that won the AFC West title at 14-2 and 11-5, McCree said he entered free agency earlier this year with the Broncos on his mind.

And with Slowik taking over play-calling duties on defense and with a reputation for more emphasis on speed in his scheme, the Broncos were shopping for safeties with McCree's kind of resume.
McCree fit because he can play - and has started - at both safety spots in his eight-year career. Teams have used him down near the line of scrimmage - he has also started games for Jacksonville, Houston and Carolina - while the Chargers usually used him in deep coverage.
But McCree said he wants to be in on the action, which is one of the reasons he asked the Chargers for his release despite their recent success.

Finishing off speed training with sports
specific strength work


Finishing off speed training with speed-specific strength work

"I told (the Broncos) I want to be down in the box more, to play in the run game, too," McCree said. "In San Diego, I was just deep, and I didn't really like that. I mean, you get bored, (it's the) fourth quarter and you haven't made a tackle. (Slowik) assured me both safeties were going to be involved in the run game and be interchangeable.

"I think I could have stayed in San Diego, but I had some personal mishaps with the new coaching staff. I thought it was best for both sides to just move on before it became anything more than it already was.

"I have nothing but respect for the organization. They treated me well, I treated them well, but it was just time to move on."

When Lynch, a 16-year veteran who repeatedly has said he was promised a chance to compete for playing time in run and pass situations, was in camp, he lined up alongside Hamza Abdullah at the two safety spots on early downs.

McCree then would come in for passing situations, alongside Abdullah, with Lynch getting no snaps in the nickel (five defensive backs) or dime (six defensive backs) packages. That led to Lynch seeking his release - and McCree lining up on every down with the starters since.
From the Broncos' perspective, that could mean they are able to use an additional roster spot somewhere else or keep an additional special-teams player.

From McCree's perspective, it means he will have the kind of playing time he was seeking in his offseason hunt for a new team.

"I realized you want to go somewhere because careers are short, where you're going to have a chance to be in the playoffs," McCree said. "When Denver called, I was more than excited. People may not be talking about us or think too much of us right now, and that's OK. The more we can be under the radar, the better.

"But we're working hard. I mean, we know we're going to be good."

Drive Phase Lunges

Celebrating three days of speed, flexibility & fast-fiber
strength work just prior to camp.

return to home page

Marlon McCree and All-Pro Champ Bailey during Warm up


Marlon McCree makes key tackle in San Diego Chargers vs Indianapolis Colts
during post season run at the 2007 Super Bowl.