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Coach Speak: Robert Mathis Talks Colts Pass Rushers

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INDIANAPOLIS — Robert Mathis is in his second year as a pass rush consultant with the Indianapolis Colts. He recently talked to reporters about the state of his position group as it continues through offseason workouts and heads towards the 2018 season:

How are you settling in as a coach and have you decided that this is what you want to do?

“Yeah, can’t get away from it. I’ve just come to that conclusion – just can’t get away from it. I’m enjoying it, enjoying the new challenge and embracing it. And I’m loving it; we’re back to the old scheme and new beginnings.”

What can’t you get away from?

“The blue and white. I think it’s just the blue and white. Period. It’s all I know and I love it. I love it too much.”

It seems like this 4-3 defensive scheme is bringing you back to your heyday:

“Yeah, I like to think so. This is what I knew my first nine years, played under it, (had) a lot of success and (won) a championship. So, we’ve got a quarterback to build around again, so I feel like the stars are re-aligning for us.”

On what he likes about second-round pick Kemoko Turay:

“I don’t think he knows how much potential he has. It’s an untapped oil well with him. He has so much potential that it’s kind of through the roof that I didn’t know, I’ll be honest, until I saw him in person. The sky’s the limit for this kid, and I’m going to make him do it the right way, stay on course because I see a lot of great things in him.”

On if Tarell Basham could be a guy to make a leap as a 4-3 defensive end:

“Yeah, he took a big leap. A lot crisper from last year to this year, more professional, more mature. And he’s hungry. He really wants it.”

On what pushed him into coaching after saying he didn’t want to do it when he retired; if something specifically triggered that:

“Up until the point I decided a lot of guys are not being taught the right way. I was taught how to pass rush from John Teerlinck; he taught me the right way, and a lot of guys in the league were getting away from it. So that kind of motivated me to just kind of stick my toe in the water. And so I kind of liked it, and I just took the plunge. And it’s what I do — I love it too much, and I’m here. What can I say? I lied? Whoop me.”

On how he convinced his wife that he wanted to get into coaching:

“I had to set the mood. I had to take her Ruth’s Chris, sit down and then kind of hit her with the news. But, no, it was a mutual decision. She’s my rock, and we talked about it. It was a joint decision, and then from there we took off with it.”

On the best part about being a coach:

“Honestly, the funnest part is being able to talk trash now, and not having to back it up — and make my guys have to back it up. So I have fun. They keep me young, and I just enjoy it all-around.”

On having Reggie Wayne out as a volunteer coach, too:

“Yeah, that’s everything right now … When he stepped in the building, it was back — that’s my brother right there. He’s back, and so we’re having fun. And so, we’re just enjoying it.”

On when he decided that Indianapolis would be his permanent home:

“A few years ago. So all my children were born here; I love it. I’m comfortable. I love it here.”

On how the hours are a lot different as a coach:

“Yeah. Yeah man. So, I’m getting used to it. I love it. But, yeah. They are different. But it’s all good, though.”

On how he’s doing the grunt work to earn his place as a coach:

“It gives a greater respect for coaches. You never really know how much they have to go through until you have to go through it. And so I have a greater appreciate for them, and I kind of went back and apologized to a couple of coaches, man, for giving them headaches, because (it's) a lot of sleepless nights they go through.”

On the difficulty of teaching guys to rush the quarterback versus doing it yourself:

“That’s the biggest hurdle. Our defensive staff, they’re teaching me how to coach; how to be a teacher. And so, I mean, I know from the past experience as a player, but actually teaching other guys, that’s something that they taught me, and so I’m just kind of soaking it up from them, and they’re doing a great job. And I’m just trying to catch up with them.”

On how you can’t just tell players, ‘Do it like I did:”

“No. No. Because Teerlinck, he didn’t (say), ‘No, just do what I did.’ It’s, ‘I’m going to show you, I’m going to prove to you.’ It’s a process. It’s step-by-step.”

On if he ever finds himself reflecting on his playing days with the current players:

“I thought I was not going to do that, but I started doing it a lot sooner than I thought. With the kind of soft punks and thundercats and all this old, old, old guy talk. So they look at me like, ‘Ahh, whatever; shut up, old guy,’ type of deal.”

On if the players know him and respect him:

“Yeah. It’s a mutual respect. They understand the body of work and they know I respect them and want to teach them. And it’s coming from a good place.”

On what stands out about Turay:

“Like I said earlier: he’s an untapped oil well; that I don’t think he even knows the type of ceiling that he has. And it’s my job to help him reach it, along with the head D-line coach, Mike Phair. He’s a special talent. So we have to do it the right way.”

On if he sees the intangible tools in the players he has now:

“Yeah. I’m surprised, because our guys have embraced it; they’ve accepted a challenge. And we have a nucleus that we can really build on. And I think (we’re) the best-kept secret.”

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