FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia doesn’t speak with the media often, but when he does, his opinions and insight usually provide a greater understanding to one of the key areas of the team.
Scarnecchia held court with reporters Tuesday after the Patriots’ organized team activity (all coaches were made available to reporters) and here were some topics of note from this viewpoint:
1. Traits that tackle Marcus Cannon has which make him a fit at right guard in OTAs. “Love his physicality. Love his passion for the game. He’s a smart kid, a great kid to coach, he’s driven to be very good. I think he’s a really good tackle. [What we’re doing in OTAs with him at guard] is trying to get this guy to make himself as valuable a player as we can, and valuable for us. We have five starters and if we lose a guy we have to have a guy that is capable of getting in there and doing a great job. So we want to train him at guard, and we’re going to give him more tackle work as we go forward in this minicamp. I like what he’s doing. I like how he’s doing it. Every day is a growth day for him. He’s a special kid. He’s a starting quality player. I love the kid. I think he’s a good player.”
2. On if he’s thinking about the end of his coaching career after 44 years, 30 of which have been with the Patriots. “I’m not going to talk about me at all. Ask me any question about the team; the team is first. I love doing this job. If you stand on this field, you know that I love doing this job. I’ll do it as long as I can do it. … I really like teaching the game, whether it’s in the classroom or on the field. It brings so much joy to me. I actually can’t wait to get to the office during the day; that’s why I don’t sleep very long at night. I love coaching football. … Living the dream. … There are really good coaches in this league and they always find ways to challenge you, so when they challenge us, we collectively have to find a way to get it done. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a great game.”
3. How it works to keep his message fresh to a group of linemen who have been around for a while. “I’m not concerned about keeping it fresh. I’m concerned about them getting the message. Some of them have heard it a long time. A long time. But it ain’t changing. We have to play a certain way. We have to play with a lot of passion and energy. None of that is changing. Relative to the number of guys coming back, I don’t think that means anything to us. You have to prove yourself every day in this league. If you don’t, if you’re not willing to prove yourself every day and [you’re] complacent, it will be a [butt]-kicking of astronomical proportions. None of us want that.”
4. Thoughts on third-year left tackle Nate Solder. “He’s played a lot of football [but] he’s not very satisfied with where he is at this point. He’s driven to be a better player and to improve himself physically. He has a great work ethic and is a very smart guy and those things will serve him very well.”
5. What stands out to him from opposing defenses on a more consistent basis. “Multiple fronts. A lot of variety in coverages and pressures. Everything is designed to take advantage of the things they see you do [and] you have to try to stay ahead of them on all that stuff. If you don’t, they get zeroed in and you have problems. I think guys do a great job of coaching; especially in this league, they prepare very hard to make it as tough as they can against you. You deal with it every week. The biggest part of our job is on the sidelines during the games, getting stuff adjusted. If you can’t get it adjusted during the games, you’re going to have a hard time. That’s the business. That’s what makes it great. It’s what makes it tough. It ain’t easy now.”
6. Following the Bruins and if he’s a hockey fan. “I can’t tell you that I’m a hockey guy, but I love the Bruins. I love what they’re doing. I really love the coach. Boston hockey fans are really knowledgeable and I think they think they know too much about it sometimes, because I hear them on the radio – I do listen to those talk shows … and they get on this coach. All he does is go out there and puts out a pretty damn good team every year. They have a pretty damn good team right now. I watched them for the first period last night and that was about all I needed to see. I’m really happy for them. I just hope they win the next one. It makes everybody happy.”