Colts Defensive Tackle Fili Moala "Excited" Entering His Second NFL Season
INDIANAPOLIS – Fili Moala said he's ready to move forward.
Moala, a second-year defensive tackle for the Colts, said he didn't like all of what he saw this off-season when he watched film of his rookie season, but he said something else is equally true.
The past is the past, and he hardly could feel better about the future.
"I'm excited," Moala said recently following a session of the Colts' 2010 organized team activities, four weeks of on-field, team-oriented activities scheduled to be held through June 11 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I'm really excited. I have my first year under my belt. I have a good feel for the landscape, and just how things are run and what to expect," said the second-year pro.
Moala said that was far from the case last season.
Moala (6-feet-4, 303 pounds), a second-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft from the University of Southern California, played sparingly in mostly a reserve role as a rookie.
Moala played in 10 games, and started at right defensive tackle in the regular-season finale at Buffalo, then was inactive throughout the playoffs. He finished the season with 17 tackles, including 10 solo, a total that included five tackles in a late-season loss to the New York Jets.
It was not, Moala said, what he wanted from his rookie season.
He said he knew it late in 2009, and he said after reviewing last season he became more focused on improving.
"The off-season for me was a lot of time to reflect, to watch myself, to watch what I put on tape," Moala said. "It was very disappointing, the stuff that I did last year."
Still, Moala said he saw something else when he watched film.
He said he didn't see it often as he wanted, but at times, he saw the player who played well enough early in his career at Southern California to be one of the top defensive tackles in college football, a player who was considered by many a potential first-round draft selection had he foregone his senior season.
Moala said seeing those flashes on tape gave him confidence.
"I saw spurts of, 'This is what I do,' Moala said. "I play football. I know I'm capable and I'm just excited to come out there and be dominant."
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said throughout last season that Moala was progressing, noting that defensive tackle is one of the toughest positions at which to adapt to the NFL.
"When you look at young guys in the league and you see them develop, the real test is can they continue to get better every week," Caldwell said last season. "Sometimes, you see them plateau and nothing really happens until the spring when you have OTAs, but that's not the case with him."
Moala said last week it was difficult to specify precisely what he didn't like about how he played last season.
"It wasn't even scheme," he said. "It was just everything – tempo of the plays, caliber of the players. It was overwhelming at times, just the whole NFL lifestyle, transitioning from something that was school and football to where now this is your job. This is your occupation.
"I'm excited to come in here and do what I know I can do and what I'm capable of doing."
And that, Moala said, is his focus moving forward. Not what he didn't do last season, but what he said he is capable of next season. He said the time to begin working toward the level of play begins now, in organized team activities, a time Colts coaches and personnel officials often say a player entering his second season can take drastic, career-altering strides.
"I feel good," he said. "I'm excited about this time that's approaching. I'm excited to be myself again. I struggled last year. I can't speak for anyone else, but personally, I struggled. I just had a difficult time for one reason or another. For one reason or another, it was a difficult transition for me.
"I tried my best, but it just didn't go the way I wanted to."
But Moala said the time for such talk is in the past. He said he can't control what happened before, but he also said if work and focus can control the future, he said the coming season could be different. Very much so.
"That's exactly how I feel," he said. "Year One is in the books. You can't do anything about that anymore. What are you going to write in Chapter 2, you know? I'm prepared to come in and play the best football I've ever played. It's time to put that stuff away. It is what it is. You can't dwell on it. You'll eat yourself alive and go crazy thinking about stuff like that.
"I'm real serious about coming in and starting something new and showing a different player."