NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.
Born: Feb. 13, 1986
Experience: 8 NFL seasons
Interview by Tom Blair | Feb. 16, 2016
I'll tell [my grandkids] that they parents were little babies at the time, they was on the field.They parents experienced the whole thing starting on Thursday. It was a lot of fun, man. It was my dream, my dream come true.
My daughter is 8 and my son is 2. ... Oh, yeah, definitely, man, definitely, [they got into it]. She had her phone out; she got thousands of videos and pictures and stuff. My son even know: "What we did?" "We won the 'ship." 'Cause he'll be 3 next month, so he's talking pretty good. He understood, he understood what was going on.
I knew we had 'em beat right when C.J. crossed that goal line and we went up two scores. There was no way we was gonna let them drive down, score, get the on-sides and drive down and score again. That's when I began my celebration on the sidelines, right after C.J. crossed that goal line.
Their offense was not that difficult at all. Their offense was, it was pretty simple, you know? We didn't feel like they had just one receiver who can take over the game and dominate us, so we were pretty confident as a secondary, as far as their personnel and their offense together, we were pretty confident, as far as playing against them.
We played 'em different, man, we played 'em different than a lot of guys played 'em. Out of the 18 games on tape, I may have watched nine or 10 of 'em. And no one played 'em like we played 'em. I think Green Bay may have come the closest to playing 'em like we played 'em. We had all kinds of stuff, man; we had zone coverages where we were adding guys, we had man coverages where we was adding guys, but the whole day, we was gonna bring pressure on Cam all day. No one else did that. So I think it was just us, our personnel, our game plan was better than their personnel and their game plan.
In London, one time, I was in London, I was guarding Randy Moss, playing against Tom Brady, and I got an interception. Tom threw a post and I came, he threw a post to this guy and I came from the other side and got an interception. That was one of the best moments, man. Randy Moss was like one of my favorite players. It was Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders; after that, it was like Randy Moss, Champ Bailey. So I was on the field guarding Randy Moss, playing against Tom Brady, one of the best of all time. It was in London, and then I got an interception, too.
I was pretty young, then, so I was probably shaking in my boots, man. I didn't say a word, probably. I remember I tried to quick-jam him one time, he weaved the quick-jam so fast and threw that hand up like Randy Moss do and I was just chasing behind him like, Please don't throw it! And they didn't throw the ball to him. I'll never forget that game.
I wouldn't even say he was the hardest then, 'cause I don't even think he worked hard. 'Cause Tampa, as a team at the time, we were so bad, man, I don't even think he really worked hard that game. Wes Welker killed us that game.
Peyton Manning. He's a 40-year-old guy who had I think three major neck surgeries and he's one great hit away from being paralyzed, and he put it on the line, he put it on the line every week, to go out there and put it on the line for us, man, risking his life. [Note: Manning will turn 40 in March.] You know, you get a little more fragile when you're older, 40 years old, let alone three major surgeries on your neck. For him putting it on the line like that, man, for so long, his preparation, his grind, for 20 years straight and being at the top of your level for 20 years straight, I definitely respect Peyton Manning the most out of anybody.
I think he is [going to retire]. Me personally, I think he is. Just 'cause that's the book, man. That's like the final chapter to that book. A perfect ending to it, you know? So, I mean, you don't wanna mess up that perfect fairytale. I don't see what else he can do in the NFL. He's like the greatest of all time. It's a perfect story for a quarterback -- for a player, period.
You gotta work your craft, man. You gotta work your craft, you gotta watch that tape and make it a little easier for you as a defensive player. If you watch a lot of film, it makes it a little bit easier for you. That's how you thrive; you gotta study. Study and practice.
Definitely, [having a short-term memory is] the most important thing, because stuff is gonna happen. Stuff is gonna happen to you in the offseason. I practice with little high school kids sometimes, just to stay young, and I let one of those little guys catch a pass on me. They were like, "I caught a pass on Talib!" So if I go into the season [thinking], Aw, man, this little high school kid caught a pass ... It'll mess you up. As a DB, you gotta be super short-minded and just know it's always about the next play.
I got a lot better at just watching film, studying my opponent for six days before the game. As far as putting our game plan, taking our game plan from at work, bringing it home ... with this iPad and taking it to the field on Sunday, that's what I got a lot better at. Putting our game plan in perspective.
I feel like it's a lot faster. It's a lot more speed at receiver, running back. Players getting faster, the rules is changing, it's a lot more passing. Lot more deep balls, explosive plays. It's like it's focused on points now. It's focused on teams scoring points. That's kind of what the NFL is being revolved around, teams scoring points. That's the biggest change [since I entered the league].
Yeah, you definitely can [take pride in being on the other side of that]. So if the game is made for teams to throw for 350 yards a game and score 30 points, and you only let people throw for 200 yards a game and score 10 points, then you feel like, no matter what the rules is, we just good, you know. That's what I look at when they say "best defenses" and all this stuff, " '85 Bears." You look at the numbers -- that game wasn't made for the offense. The game is made for the offense now, and we still put up the numbers that those guys put up.
All the guys in our room, we kind of get that film watching into [Bradley Roby's] head, you know. The earlier you get it, the better prepared you'll be. He's getting it this year. He's coming to meeting rooms, like, "Hey, you notice every time he's right here, you line up right here, you gonna miss." So it's just really that film study.
I was with the Patriots and I played against D.T., and I just kept switching it up on him. I quick-jammed him, I inched on him, then I played hard at the line, then I bailed on him. I just kept on switching it up and switching it up. And I think it kind of frustrated him a little bit. His moves started to change on the line, and I don't know. Me, I think I got in his head a little bit that game. We talk about it. We talk about it all the time. We have good conversations about it.
I think [talking] makes the game fun, man. Football is about talk. I mean, it's not a quiet game. You know. You hear the crowd roaring. It's a competitive sport. It's not golf. It's not tennis, you know. I think the talking, it kind of makes the game fun. It kind of, you know, keep the competitive juices flowing.
Press [is my favorite thing to do from a technical standpoint]. Press is more than just lining up on the line and running with the guy, you know what I'm saying? It's keys to it. It's rules to it. It's a real thing to do is press. Anybody just can't go press somebody. A lot of people think you can. "Oh yeah, just get on the line and put your hands on him." ... So I think you really have to be technically sound to play press coverage. It's harder than it looks.
It'd definitely make people stop getting personal fouls, man. They'll calm down after that first one. No one wants to have to leave the game. The rules is the rules; I'm just here to follow.
I just play football, man. I just try to compete, play hard, play for my team, win the game. And that's just how I play the game. The rules is built in into the game. You know, you just get used to playing football and following the rules.
I view [being traded from Tampa Bay to New England] as the best thing that happened to my NFL career. 'Cause early [in] Tampa, we couldn't even get on local TV. We was blacked out for like two seasons in a row. [Note: Several Bucs games were blacked out in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.] I came in the league, the first [four] years I had 17 interceptions, three touchdowns and you wouldn't even know it. 'Cause I never got a highlight on NFL Network or nothing, man, 'cause we was losing games, we wasn't on local TV.
As soon as I got out of there, I started getting mentioned in the top five corners in the league. I got like to the main stage. There are certain teams who are the main stage in the NFL and there are certain teams who are not. I got traded to one of the teams who was on the main stage. When I was growing up, I always wanted to go into the NFL, I think the NFL I was thinking of back then was the main-stage teams, the AFC Championships, the Super Bowls, the SportsCenter, always on highlights, and being traded to New England, I was able to get on that stage.
Man, it was wonderful [playing for Bill Belichick]. He's brilliant. He's a brilliant football mind, and a great leader. A great leader. He's focused on straight football. He could care less what you wear to work. He could care less what you wear to walkthrough. He could care less where you use your phone at, where you eat at. He wants to win football games, he wants you to be on time, and he wants you to know your stuff. Playing for him, man, definitely takes any player to the next level.