Broncos safety McCree doesn't hit pause button
Safety has to be quick on feet to get defense aligned, in right spots
by Jeff Legwold,
Rocky Mountain News
August 6, 2008
Marlon McCree doing speed technique in the acceleration ladder
Phil Campbell at Scripts Ranch High School, San Diego, CA
- 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.
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
Finishing off speed training with sports
specific strength work
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
"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
"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
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."
Celebrating three days of speed, flexibility & fast-fiber
strength work just prior to camp.