Darren Perry never got anything but the best of coaching. He’s committed to passing on what he’s learned to the players he now coaches.
Perry’s route as a player took him from Joe Paterno to Bill Cowher. While playing for those two head coaches, Perry played for defensive coordinators Jerry Sandusky, Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau. They are some of the most prominent names in football. Capers and LeBeau alone represent the two most dynamic names in defensive football over the past two decades.
“I’ve been blessed. I think back on my career. Bill was a defensive coach. You had Bill and Dom and Dick involved in that defense,” Perry said.
As coach of the Packers’ safeties, Perry is passing on what he learned to players such as Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah and Morgan Burnett. To say Perry’s safeties turned in starring performances in the Packers’ Super Bowl win over the Steelers, the team for which Perry starred as a player, would be an understatement.
“Dom, the biggest thing is attention to detail, organization and structure. He’s going to leave no stone unturned,” Perry said of what he learned from Capers. As the Packers’ defensive coordinator, Capers brought Perry to Green Bay to join the team’s defensive staff.
“Dick, more position specifics: how to play the game, what to look for, the toughness he played with and demanded from his players. If you were a 4.6 guy, he wanted you to give him a 4.6 all the time,” Perry said.
Perry was a 4.6 guy coming out of Penn State, which is to say he was considered to be a step slow for the pro game. It caused him not to be picked until the eighth round of the 1992 draft.
In no time, however, Perry was in the starting lineup at free safety, playing next to Carnell Lake and Rod Woodson on a Steelers defense that would go on to “Blitzburgh” fame. How did Perry overcome his lack of speed?
“Being a student of the game, understanding angles and preparing. It allows you to play faster,” he said.
All of those ingredients, of course, are the things of which good coaches are made.
“I was told I’d be a good coach but didn’t know I wanted to be in that field. Even when I told my wife I was going to take the job, I still wasn’t sold on it,” he said.
He gave it a try, and then he was convinced.
“The connections you make with the players, getting inside an offensive coordinator’s mind; I got sucked back in,” Perry said with a smile.
On this day in the fourth month of the lockout, Perry was watching tape of the New Orleans Saints, preparing for a home opener everybody hopes will not be delayed by the work stoppage. His main concern is for this year’s rookies. He knows how important his rookie season was to his career.
“When rookies come into the league, it’s so important that their coaches teach them the game because that’s what they are going to hang onto,” he said.
Perry had good teachers. Now it’s his turn to teach and the results are suggesting that Perry made the right career decision.
“It’s going to fall into place. Everybody has goals. Everybody has aspirations of being a defensive coordinator and moving up the ladder. Those opportunities will come,” he said.
There’s no denying his pedigree.