Posted Fri Mar 6th by Christopher Hart
The other morning I had the privilege of interviewing free agent defensive lineman Marques Douglas over the phone to discuss a few questions regarding a myriad of topics. Douglas played under Mike Nolan for both the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, and could be on Denver’s radar. He was a very well-spoken, humble guy and it was a real pleasure talking to him. Douglas runs a blog of his own for Yardbarker, which you can find here. Thanks to the folks at YB and Mr. Douglas for taking the time. Enjoy!
What types of qualities do you have as a player and a person that would make you a quality fit for the Denver Broncos both on and off the field? Secondly, what do you feel are the best aspects of your overall game?
I’m an accountable player that will play every down like it is my last. I’ve played under Coach Nolan and have experience in the 3-4 defense. Another big thing is consistency. Throughout my career I’ve been a consistent player who has always laid it on the line. Football is a team game, and sacrificing yourself for the betterment of your teammates allows for a very productive Sunday. I’ve also played against the All-Pro players in the NFL that get the best out of me.
Have you or your agent been in contact with the Denver Broncos regarding the possibility of signing with the team?
I know my agent has been contacting several teams, and right now he is getting the word out and hopefully something happens within the next few days. I feel that I’m a productive player that would definitely fit into Nolan’s 3-4 schemes in Denver. I was very successful and had my best years playing under him. I’d love to play for him again.
What is your most memorable NFL moment to date?
The AFC Championship Game this year. When you get that close to the Super Bowl, and when you realize that every down you play is important – it made it a memorable experience. We played hard to get to the playoffs, and we played hard to get to the Super Bowl, and though we fell short, playing in that atmosphere was very memorable.
Everybody knows football is a physically intensive sport. However, mentality plays a large role in it as well. How do you mentally prepare week in and week out?
Mentally, preparation starts at the beginning of the week. Studying film is an important aspect of it. By studying your opponents on film, you get to know their tendencies and by knowing those tendencies you have confidence moving forward into Sunday.
After the 2006 season you took a trip to Afghanistan to support the troops. How was that experience for you?
It was an amazing experience to get together with a bunch of guys, support our troops and promote democracy. We spent about thirty hours on planes going everywhere. The troops were very thankful and appreciative for us being there, and I think I learned and took more away some things from them through the process.
You have played under Mike Nolan on several occasions. You were there when Baltimore made the 3-4 transition; and you followed him to San Francisco. Looking at the statistics, you always excelled under his tutelage. In lieu of that, there are several questions I have.
How do players respond to Mike Nolan in the locker room? What are the things that set him apart from other defensive coordinators in the league?
Mike Nolan is a great teacher and someone who listens to players. He has a knack for putting players in a role where they are going to succeed. He has a unique coaching style, and he truly cares and wants to know what his players on defense are thinking. A lot of coaches out there are different and don’t have that aspect. He gets his players involved as much as possible. For example, he wants to know how his players feel about back-end coverage, and he wants to get creative with creating pressure up front.
He knows how to game plan and he knows how and where to put players in order for them to succeed. He brings a sense of youth and enthusiasm to the field that not all coaches have. He knows how to study opposing offenses and attack them correctly. His personality, knowledge of the game and ability to manage a defense has made him one of the most successful coordinators there is, and players respond positively to that.
How would you best describe Nolan’s overall defensive scheme?
You could compare and contrast his scheme to that of the Dallas Cowboy’s that also runs the 3-4. In Nolan’s scheme, you don’t need the big 6’7 guys up front at the end to succeed. His defense is more of an attacking, penetration defense that utilizes speed and athleticism, not necessarily size. It is a style of defense that can bring about big plays and also extend the careers of players. It is different than a one gap defense that you see in a 4-3. At its basic package, it is a two-gap defense. When it gets switched up, you will see a lot of slanting and movement in and out of the gaps.
As you might be aware, the Broncos are making the transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4. How easy do you think this transition will be? What type of expectations should Broncos fans have in regards to this move?
There will be a transition, but what some of the players there lack in knowledge – they’ll make up through practice and working with others who have a familiarity with the system. It’s a scheme that is very successful; just take a look at the teams who went far into the playoffs and made the Super Bowl; Pittsburgh and Arizona both utilized 3-4 man fronts. When you have people buy into the system, it certainly helps the transition. I’m not saying it is going to be easy, because it will take time; but when implemented properly – it is very effective.
The Broncos have added savvy veterans like Andra Davis, Andre Goodman, Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill, Ronald Fields and Darrell Reid to the defense who have a familiarity with the 3-4. How would you feel about joining this free agent class?
I know both Ronald Fields and Brian Dawkins and they are both tremendous players. Being back with Coach Nolan would be great. His game plans are very in-depth and effective and I would be excited to be there. I think I’d be a natural fit, I had my best seasons of my career under Coach Nolan.
Who is the toughest player you’ve faced in the NFL?
Willie Roaf. I had a chance to be his teammate in New Orleans and have the privilege of playing against him when he was in Kansas City. Easily the best I went against.
The Broncos have a lot of young defensive lineman such as Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder and Elvis Dumervil on their roster. What could you do to help these players if you signed in Denver?
I’d help them by leading by example. I’m not the kind of guy to say, “Do it like this.” Encouraging them to study film, helping them adjust to lining up in a two-gap stance and improve aspects of the game like technique would help as well.
Other than a familiarity with Coach Nolan, what about Denver interests you?
I’ve been to Denver several times and it is a great city. It’s very nice and scenic. For the team, they have a high powered offense that can score all the time. They are in a great conference with teams like Kansas City and San Diego and to play against players like LT and go up against those offensive lines would be fun.
You played your college ball at Howard, didn’t get much exposure and weren’t drafted. What kind of advice do you have for players coming out through the draft, especially from smaller schools?
It is a very long and extensive process. You have the combine and pro days where you can showcase your abilities. I didn’t have an invite to the combine. The best advice I can give is to be humble and tread the waters carefully. If somebody asks you something, answer honestly. Remember it is not a right, but a privilege to play in the NFL. You must be willing to learn and through mistakes, have a piece of humble pie every now and then.