Q&A with Bruce Smith - A must read!

Bruce, a year ago, your team came up here pretty much favored to win the conference, win the division, maybe go to the Super Bowl and now a year later, things seem to be falling apart. Can you believe how quickly it has gone down hill?

Bruce, a year ago, your team came up here pretty much favored to win the conference, win the division, maybe go to the Super Bowl and now a year later, things seem to be falling apart. Can you believe how quickly it has gone down hill?

No, I really can't. I tell you, to be a contender one year to being in the situation that we are in right now, it is pretty unbelievable.

Can you talk about what happened at that team meeting on Monday?

Well we had an opportunity to voice our opinions and basically communicate with one another along with the coaches as well. I think it was a very positive meeting.

Has that been a problem, do you think, this year?

I think that there been a great deal of talking going on, but not a great deal of listening and understanding and comprehending. This is a pretty simple game. It involves a lot of X's and O's and if you put them in the right place and execute you are successful. If you don't, then you are not successful. Once again, I just think that the meeting we had on Monday was very beneficial, and hopefully we will be able to respond on this coming Sunday.

Have you found meetings like that ever to be beneficial in the past?

Yeah, I did. We had a number of them in Buffalo and they were called upon in crucial times. This is the first team meeting we had in which there was an open forum. Each player, as well as coaches, was able to express themselves and talk about their feelings, and opinions and things of that nature. I have been a part of a number of them. In our situation, though, we always (when I was with the Bills) asked the coaches to leave, but it was important that each and ever person that is involved with this team be involved in this particular meeting.

Did every player speak up?

We had quite a few; young, old, some medium aged. There was a variety of guys that actually stood up and spoke.

Was it most important for Marty to take note of what was said?

It was important for each and every one of us to take note of what was said. Not just singling out one particular individual, it was important for all of us to hear each other out and comprehend what was being said.

Can you describe what the tone was like?

Well I'm not going to get into specifics, but realizing what we have at stake and what kind of lifestyle that we have, we talked about a variety of things that varied. Once again, when you have ten people stand up and talk, there is a lot of information that has to be soaked in.

Has there been a resistance to Marty's way of doing things?

No there has not been a resistance. Marty is the head coach. Whatever he has scheduled us to do or planned for us to do, we might not have agreed upon it, but it had to be done. We did it and we did it with the intent to get something out of it. I know, in certain situations, I might not agree upon this or that that is plan. I had disagreements with Marv Levy before but we were man enough to talk to one another and walk away as men and go on and move forward. If there is something that is planned on the schedule dealing with work, or film or lifting weights or what have you, I'm going to get something out of it regardless of whether I agree with the situation or what is going on or not, I'm going to get something out of it and I think that's what the majority of us have been trying to do, regardless of what the circumstances were; if we had to do it, if it is mandatory, or what have you, we are going to get something out of it.

How long did the meeting last the other day?

About an hour, actually.

Did you come away from that meeting thinking that the coaches actually heard you?

Well I came away from it hoping and thinking that we all heard each other. Once again, we didn't want this to be one sided and we had some things we were concerned about and we talked to him about them, and I truly believe he did his best to try and listen and understand. Now the meeting was only two days ago. We have a long season ahead of us and this is the first day of practice after the meeting. Right now our focus is not about that meeting we had on Monday but on the meeting we are going to have at 1:00 at Giants Stadium. That is going to be the most important meeting of this particular week, of this particular season, and that is what we are going to focus our attention on.

Bruce, what do you expect Sunday from Lomas Brown and what stands out from past meetings with him?

Lomas is very athletic. He is able to recover from certain moves that guys are able to give him. He uses his hands and his speed well. He is a very smart player and he is experienced. If you put all that together, that is why he has been around seventeen years. I personally thought he should have made the Pro-Bowl last year, but sometimes that turns into a popularity contest, but that is what I expect. His wit against my wit, his athleticism against my athleticism and when it gets right down to it, there is going to be some power involved. I'm sure he'll try and cut block me a few times here and there, thinking he can get inside my head, but that is what I'm expecting.

This is just to clarify something: you said a lot of people were talking but not listening, you were talking about everybody right, coaches, everybody talking not listening. You were referring to everybody?

Yeah. I think I touched on that enough about that meeting and my attention right now is going to be totally focused on the Giants. I have not even thought very much about that meeting today because of the fact that we are preparing for the Giants, and I don't want my mind to get sidetracked.

Do you notice a different attitude at practice today? Maybe a different sense of purpose around the team?

The attitude we have is getting our first win. That is first and foremost. The positive thing about this whole season and the reason we do have a little optimism. I shouldn't say a "little optimism" is because we haven't played a divisional opponent. This will be our first divisional opponent so if we can do the things that are necessary to get a victory and get a victory away, I think we will be very pleased with that. That is where our attention is focused.

Do you think that everybody on the team thinks that there is enough talent to get things done?

Look, we have talent, we have a great deal of talent. I don't know where, I think I saw that clip that Dick Vermeil said during his press conference which I thought was very unprofessional and very classless of him not knowing the situation and only going by hearsay, but we have a great deal of talent on this team and we have some people that have voiced there opinions over the past. But I think that voicing your opinion and giving constructive criticism does not fall in the same line of being a player or players being considered to be complainers.

What kind of message did cutting Jeff George send to the team if it sent a message?

Well, the message that Marty was trying to send was that he felt that we couldn't win with Jeff George. That sums it up in itself.

How did you feel about that?

I was shocked that it occurred. I was very surprised that it occurred but I don't know exactly what was taking place because I am not studying our offensive film. I don't know exactly what was taking place and what was going on on the other side of the ball but I was very surprised that that happened.

How would you characterize these games with the Giants? You have been involved in a lot of rivalries and that type of things, how would you characterize these games you played with the Giants so far.

You mean this past year or my whole career?

Well since you have been in Washington.

Well, there is definitely a rivalry between the Redskins and the Giants and a very competitive one. It just seems like it is DC against New York or vice versa. It is two big cities going up against one another and bragging rights over the big cities so I don't know if that is the correct way to put it, but it is just a very competitive atmosphere when you walk out on the film or you start studying film against that opponent.

The numbers on defense obviously look pretty bad, is it as bad as it looks?

Yes it is. Certainly is.

Can you believe that you are a part of this defense, and what can be done to correct it?

There are a number of things that have taken place and breakdowns and unless you are familiar with defensive scheme or the defense has broken down in that particular area, you can say that is looks bad but you have to get to the root of the problem and we have had some mental areas and we have had some situations where a few guys have just gotten beat, and unfortunately when you put those together back to back over the course of a game, it can look pretty ugly and that is what has occurred. Now actually getting physically beaten and blown off the ball hasn't occurred, but what has happened is what I just explained to you.

How do you think you have been holding up?

I'm holding up pretty good. My body doesn't feel bad at this point, here and there a little. We have had a lot of plays of last three weeks with teams being able to have success and our not being able to get of the field, we have got to correct that right now. We have to come up to the Giants and be able to play good, solid, sound defense. Not for just a half but for a whole game. I think we haven't done that for the past three weeks. We've played great football in the first half in every game. Whether it is because of lack of this, or lack of that, we've just seemed to have some breakdowns later on in the game. We must sustain that energy not just in the first half, but in the second half as well.

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