John Crist: I hear you were a pretty good high school quarterback once upon a time. Do you think your past life as a quarterback made you a better defensive end?
Alex Brown: I don't know. I think just playing for a while, like playing football all my life, has helped me become a better player. Whether it was in college when I was a linebacker, or playing here, you just understand the game a little more. I think it's good to play a lot of positions early, and then when you finally get to that one position that you can play, maybe during college and the NFL, then you understand a little more. Obviously, if you can play that many positions, you're pretty athletic, I guess. But I don't know. I don't think it helped me that much as far as playing quarterback in high school. No. It's just playing on feel, playing on gut and believing in your keys, and when you see something, you believe it and you go. Sometimes, you're wrong. But for the most part, you're right most of the time.
JC: What about the other way around? Is it possible that playing defensive end could make someone a better quarterback later in life?
AB: Man, I don't know. I doubt that. I doubt it. To play a position like quarterback… you need reps playing whatever position you play. If you're going to play at this level, it's good to play that position throughout high school, college, and then when you get to the pros, you're still going to be tossing things. But it's good to have an idea of what the position is about. To switch a position in the NFL, when you're dealing with guys that have played their respective position since high school, or since freshman year of college, it's hard. It's hard to make that transition. So guys that can do it, you give more respect to them because you've got to be a heck of an athlete to make that transition.
JC: You were billed coming out of Gainesville as nothing but a pass rusher, but here you are in the NFL a complete player. Were we wrong about you in college?
AB: We didn't really have to play the run a lot in college. Not that I couldn't play it. It's just we didn't have to. We were up 21-0 in a hurry. First quarter, we're up 21-0. If the other team wants to win, they'll stop running. They've got to start throwing the ball, and that was 80 percent of the time. That was the key. And then, I'd run around the corner. If it's a run, you'd just get up the field. You stopped the run on the way to the quarterback. But here, my first two years helped me out so much here with Coach [Dick] Jauron and Coach [Greg] Blache. That's what we did. You learn how to use your hands. You learn how to play the run. You've got to keep linemen off of 54 (Brian Urlacher), and that was it. That was the key. You don't let anybody touch 54.
JC: The knock on you is that you never get double-digit sacks. Are you OK with that criticism by now, or does it still get under your skin?
AB: No, I want to get it. It's something I want to do. I try to do it. I play as hard as I can. I think I'm really close on a lot of plays during the season. It's just that one step or just one lean, and I believe with the work we've had this offseason and Coach [Rod] Marinelli coming in, it's a different way of approaching the offseason and approaching training camp. Personally, hopefully I have turned that corner, and hopefully I can do it this year. I don't know. I want to win. That's what I care about. I had seven sacks when we went to the Super Bowl. If we go to the Super Bowl again, I'll take seven sacks. That's fine. I don't care.
JC: Everyone goes on and on about Marinelli and what he's brought as a D-line coach. Is this in any way an indictment of your previous D-line coach, Brick Haley?
AB: I don't think so. I think Coach Brick, he's good in his own right and he taught us some things, but Coach Marinelli is the best. It's like talking about – and I know this is a different comparison; I know Coach Brick is not Dwyane Wade – but comparing Dwyane Wade and Michael Jordan is just, you can't do it. This guy is the best to ever do it. He's the best defensive line coach to ever do it, so you can't compare the two. Even though Dwyane Wade is good, he's good in his own right. But Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan. Like, there's no comparison. So I think that's what it is.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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