Colts Defensive End Talks About 2009 Season, Upcoming Game Against 49ers
Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney has registered at least one sack in every game this season. With seven total, Freeney leads the Colts and ranks fifth-best in the NFL. On Wednesday, the Pro Bowl end spoke with reporters about a wide-variety of topics, including the 2009 season, his current sack streak and the team's game this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
Q: The San Francisco 49ers have a new starting quarterback in Alex Smith. Is it tougher to prepare for someone who there is not a lot of film on?
A: "We have seen him before (in 2005). He does a good job managing the team. He likes to stand in the pocket, he has confidence in his abilities and he doesn't mind taking a hit to try and make plays for his team."
Q: What about the play of the unsung heroes next to you, the defensive tackles?
A: "They are a tremendous help. What people do not understand is that everything has to work together. The secondary has to cover, the linebackers have to drop, the opposite end and the defensive tackles have to play well and put pressure – it is all a moving machine. When one thing breaks down, that is just a greater chance for a non-sack, because now the quarterback has a place to step up or throw the ball. From coverage sacks to just being fluid and everyone working together as far as the defensive line is concerned, it all matters. It all matters, it all counts. It's not just me being me, it is a collective unit that is playing together."
Q: How do you tell the young players that winning so many games in a row is not something to take for granted?
A: "I think the culture around here and the veterans pretty much lead by example. Mostly, it is just that this is nothing new around here. We have done this year-in and year-out, maybe there are a couple years when we haven't, but we do this. There is something to it, but let's not buy into the hype yet. Let's understand that every game is a new game. Who cares what happened? So what, we are 6-0? We need to think we are 0-0, and that we have to get a win this week. You have to keep it small and think about the season in small, little segments and take the game for what it is. Then you look at it some time in December or January when it really matters and you are gearing for playoff position. But we really just want to keep our momentum going."
Q: How hard is it to keep your streak (seven and counting) of one sack per game alive?
A: "There is no pressure since I am not really worried about it, but there is some difficulty, especially when teams are preparing for you. It is not like I'm going out there and seeing one guy. I see a ton of different situations and protections. Depending on how the offense is doing, they might not even throw the ball at all. There are a lot of factors that go into it, but I'm not really worried about all of that. I just go out there and play, and if it happens, that's great. But winning the game is the most important thing."
Q: Is there anything different this year that has helped you get more sacks?
A: "You know, it is funny, some games I have like eight, nine hits on a quarterback and no sacks. And then there are some games when I only have two hits, but get one sack. It is kind of like throwing two things up in there and hoping to catch one of them. And our scheme has undergone some changes, and it has helped a little bit. It is not just the defensive line going four against seven protectors, where they could double every guy. We have a little more aggressive style of a defense now which causes them to account for more guys."
Q: You have seven sacks so far this season, how many do you think you could have had?
A: "You can't ask me that question (laughs). For me, I think I should have four or five every game. Every game I'm like, 'I should have had four.' But realistically, things happen. You are going to miss plays, you are going to miss sacks, but that is kind of what drives you. I think every game I've missed three or four legitimate chances to have sacks. I feel like I should have 21."
Q: I know you are from the East Coast, but do you remember watching San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary play when he was a linebacker with the Chicago Bears?
A: "Oh, yeah. I remember a lot from back in the day. I used to play Tecmo Bowl, and Mike was the fastest linebacker. He would run everybody over and was the fastest guy out there. If there were a rating for speed, he would have been like a 150 out of 100. He was ridiculous."
Q: A win Sunday would mark 16 consecutive regular-season wins for the Colts – is this football's version of the "Tiger Slam?"
A: "Sixteen-and-0 and all that, we never really focus on that. I didn't even know that. Our thing is really focusing on one game at a time all the time, and things kind of take care of themselves in the end."