A Question-Answer Session with Colts Defensive Tackle Raheem Brock
Defensive end Raheem Brock, a seventh-year NFL veteran, has been one of the Colts' most-reliable, productive defensive players throughout his career. Originally acquired during training camp of his rookie season in 2002, Brock has developed into one of the leaders of the Colts' defense and has missed just six starts since 2003, including five last season. Brock, who played collegiately at Temple, has started nine of 10 games this season and has 34 tackles, a sack, five quarterback pressures and two forced fumbles. Brock this week sat down to talk to Colts.com about the recent improvement of the Colts' defense, his role as a veteran leader and why he likes what he sees from the team through 10 games this season.
Question: There were some tough times early this season – for the defense, and for the team as a whole. How did the team get through that and what has been the difference?
Answer: We had a couple of injuries early and we were able to get some young guys some experience. There was a lot of communication and understanding the defense and the schemes – things like that we had to work on. The younger guys needed to learn that, and it was also learning how to play for 60 minutes. Some of the games – like the first Houston game, when we came back in the last couple of minutes . . . we went through a couple of things this year to help the younger guys understand our mentality and how we needed to play for 60 minutes.
Q: That has been something you've talked about a lot this season – that need to play for 60 minutes . . .
A: The guys who have been here for a while, we've been through a lot, so we understand that. The new guys who are here, who we need help from them to get where we want to be, they don't understand it, and then us going through what we went through early in the season helps them to understand why we say, 'You need understand this, here's why you need to be here, you need to communicate.' It's communication, especially when we're playing at home and we have the loud crowd noise. You have to be able to communicate and we have to find ways to do that or we have a breakdown within the defense.
Q: The average fan might think playing for 60 minutes is something that sort of comes naturally, or that should just 'happen.' It's not that easy, is it?
A: It's playing consistently. We're a little more consistent than we were early in the year, too. We're getting better. We still have a lot of injuries on defense, but I think everything happens for a reason.
Q: Earlier this season, when the Colts were 3-4, you kept saying things would be OK, and that this group of players could get things going. What gave you confidence?
A: Guys are starting to understand the mentality and what we need out of them. We already knew the younger guys could play, but it's mental, too. It's not just physical. Once they get that mental part down, the physical will take care of the rest.
Q: You're in your seventh season. It seems you're kind of enjoying the whole process of being a veteran leader and teaching younger players . . .
A: I've been through all of that – all of the stuff they're going through. In the heat of a game, a close game, sometimes you can't think. You just want to go play. I just try to talk to them just like (former Colts defensive end) Chad (Bratzke) and (former Colts linebacker) Marcus Washington did for me when I was a rookie. You just try to keep their head in it. It helps. I've been there before, so I understand what they go through.
Q: Did you ever imagine you'd be that guy?
A: (Laughing) I didn't think about that back then. Time flies. It is what it is, but whatever I can do to make these guys play better, that's what I'll do.
Q: The Colts gave up a lot of rushing yards in the first three games and were ranked 31st in run defense. They're now ranked 23rd and the yards allowed has improved from 199 yards a game to 138 . . .
A: We still have a lot to work on. I still think we could play a little more consistently. We have little breakdowns, but we're still learning. We just got another defensive lineman (tackle Antonio Johnson) who's helping us out. We still have some learning to do, but guys are picking up things fast. We just want to keep jelling together, so we can hit December full go and be hot.
Q: For five consecutive years, this team basically has played with a lead in the second half of the season. How different is this season, being in a tight battle for positioning in the AFC?
A: It is a little bit different, but I was never worried. We still want to take it one game at a time. This is the NFL. Anything can happen on any Sunday, so I never counted us out. We have so many guys here who have been through a lot that I was never really worried and I'm not worried now. I just think we're growing as a team right now and we're growing as a defense. We just have to keep doing that.
Q: It sounds like you like the vibe you're getting from this team right now . . .
A: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Especially on the D-Line, a lot of guys are stepping up and making big plays. Like the goal-line stand we had in Pittsburgh – things like that, that's what you want to see, that we're progressing to where we want to be.
Q: So, even though it has been a different start, you sound like you feel like the best is yet to come . . .
A: I just think we're jelling together at the right time. We just want to keep getting better each week. Even with the injuries we have, we've been able to stay and play at a high level. That's great. Down the line, when everyone's healthy – it's going to help us down the road. If we have an injury, we have guys who can step up and make plays. It definitely gives us more confidence and we have backups with a little experience now. We have DBs (defensive backs) who come in, make plays and get picks – stuff like that has to help.
Q: The Colts in recent seasons often have clinched their playoff positioning a game or two before the end of the regular season. If that's not the case this season, could there be a benefit from playing imant games through the end of the season?
A: That helps everybody get the mindset. That's what we've been telling guys – me and (middle linebacker and defensive captain) Gary Brackett – that that's how the games are going to be. We say, 'Expect the games to be like that. They're going to be close games, down-to-the-last-minute, down-to-the-wire type games. Don't expect any blowout games. Games like Baltimore (a 31-3 Colts victory), how that game was, don't expect it to be like that. Expect every game to be 60 minutes, and play like that.' I think everybody's getting that mindset and that's why we're able to play so well.
Q: The last three Super Bowl winners – Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and the New York Giants – haven't had a first-round bye. There's no reason a team can't be successful playing four postseason games anymore . . .
A: (Laughing) I don't like the bye. No more byes. Even though we have injuries and everything, I'd rather keep it going. No relaxing. We'll relax when the season's over.