INDIANAPOLIS — One of the best things about making it to the Super Bowl is having the ability to sit down and speak with the Patriots assistant coaches. And no one is more entertaining than veteran offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Few have seen more during his three decades of coaching, and listening to him discuss any topic is usually worth the time. Thursday was one of those occasions.
Scarnecchia, who oversaw a front line that underwent numerous changes during a season filled with injuries up front, was asked if he felt any particular pride for the unit's performance. As always, the assistant head coach spoke eloquently and entertainingly on the subject.
"No more than any other group. The guys that you have in the room are the guys you have," Scarnecchia began. "The one thing that has been most pleasing with these guys is, yes we've had guys step in and fill in for guys that have been hurt, but you have that every year, but I think the most pleasing thing for me personally are the guys that have done that, one, and guys like Brian Waters, who didn't have any training camp with us and come in and done a great job.
"But more importantly he's really embraced the system and techniques. One deal about those old dogs is that you can't teach them anything. We had a mutual understanding ... 'Look Brian, you've been in the league 12 years, you've been to multiple Pro Bowls, I know you have your way of doing things, I have my way of doing things. I want you to try to as much as you can embrace and conform to those things.' And to his credit he's done that in droves. I've been so pleased with him, because he's a veteran guy."
Scarnecchia was just getting started, and Waters remained very much on his mind.
"Over the last month, when we had all those guys hurt - [Matt] Light, [Logan] Mankins - he was the bell cow. He stepped forward. In the Miami game, he was the only guy. He had more years experience than all those guys [in the game at the time] combined. And he's the guy on the sideline saying, 'Here's what we have to do, here's how we have to do it, everybody's got to shut up and communicate, do it the right way, reduce all the talking.'
And he got them going on the field, to his credit, down 17-0 and we're standing there saying 'holy [expletive], we're in trouble.' We got no Light, no Mankins, [Nate] Solder is over there [at left tackle], Marcus [Cannon], he just finished chemotherapy three months earlier - 'Marcus, get in at right tackle' - I'm not saying that other than to say 'Hey, this is looking pretty [bad] right now.' And Brian's got 'em all on the sideline saying, 'C'mon, we got to do this.' And then we start having some success and it starts working out. That's the stuff you love."
And it's the stuff we love about Scarnecchia.