LB Derrick Brooks doesn't look just to the football field for motivation.
Last Friday, as he answered questions sent in by Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans as part of his Your Turn interview, linebacker Derrick Brooks revealed one of the things missing from his nearly impeccable resume.
Brooks, you see, is considered one of the league's best coverage linebackers, as evidenced by his 56 career passes defensed. Because he is so good in space, he is rarely involved in the team's blitz package. As Brooks described for a Buccaneers.com user the pleasure he takes in dropping into coverage, he made a rather prescient statement.
"By our scheme, I don't blitz a lot, so I enjoy playing the pass," said Brooks. "It gives me a chance to get some interceptions and hopefully score my first touchdown."
That portion of Brooks' interview aired on Buccaneers.com on Friday, two days before the Bucs would take on the then-unbeaten Minnesota Vikings. On Sunday, Brooks helped the Bucs' build a 28-10 halftime lead over the Vikings by snaring a second-quarter Daunte Culpepper pass at the Minnesota 34, sprinting to the left sideline and up the field to the end zone for his first NFL score.
Brooks answered 20 fan questions that day, not all of them so eerily, and the results of the first half of that interview were posted on Friday. What follows is the second half, where Derrick addressed 10 more questions sent in using Buccaneers.com, covering such topics as Jamie Duncan's adjustment to a starting role, the pressures of increased expectations and the development of quarterback Shaun King.
To watch the video from the second part of Derrick Brooks' Your Turn interview, please click here. For a full written transcript of the interview, read on.
Moderator: We're back for Part II of the Your Turn interview with Derrick Brooks, where he's answering questions that were sent in by Buccaneer fans using Buccaneers.com. We've already covered 10 excellent questions, Derrick had some great advice for young players in high school right now. We've got some more really good questions coming, so let's just dive right back in.
Derrick Brooks: Okay.
Roger from Manassas, Virginia: You're all over the field, but you don't get a shot at the QB much. Is that by design or just the way you play the position?
Derrick Brooks: Yeah, it's a little bit by design. I rarely get a chance to rush the quarterback or blitz in our scheme. I'm usually in coverage or covering an area in my zone drop. Usually, I get a lick on the quarterback whenever he runs the football, so for those that are watching, that's how our defensive system is set up.
Anthony from Modesto, California: Derrick, was there ever a game in which you felt nervous?
Derrick Brooks: To be honest with you, you always a little bit of nervousness before every game. Usually, that first lick tends to knock most people's nervousness out. But you're always a little bit nervous before you go in, so you try to do everything to relax yourself. I find myself, as long as I've been playing, until I get that first hit I always have the jitters. Once I get that first lick, I'm fine.
Roderick from South Texas: Derrick, which asset of yours do you think separates you from other linebackers? Is it your heart, speed, intensity, or knowledge of the game?
Derrick Brooks: I think it's a combination of several things. I think the Lord blessed me with a big heart. I feel that I'm the best out there and I want work at it. Secondly, I work hard on and off the field to prepare myself to go out and play. I think God gave me some instincts on the field that, the longer I play, the better I get a chance to use those instincts. And speed…speed and quickness. I think that's two of the elements that make up this Buccaneer defense, and I get a chance to use that as one of my assets.
Kevin from Clearwater, Florida: Since no one would know better than you, what is the difference between Hardy Nickerson's style of play and Jamie Duncan's, and how have you adjusted to it?
Derrick Brooks: I think Hardy, he had 13 years of experience. When I played with Hardy, he was in his ninth year. I didn't play with Hardy before that, so I didn't see him develop for those nine years. When I played with him, he was the complete package, from someone that's lining the defense up to being a pro on and off the field. I had a chance to learn from someone and experience that. Now I'm in a position where I have to help develop Jamie and the younger guys behind me, to show them the things that Hardy showed me about being a pro and developing your game. It's kind of an injustice to compare both of them at this stage of their careers, because they're on opposite sides of the spectrum.
Moderator: But can you describe Jamie's style of play for us?
Derrick Brooks: He's very aggressive. He comes up and takes on the blocks very well, but at the same time, he has a lot of discipline because we ask a lot of him in coverage. He's a little bigger than what Hardy was, playing the middle linebacker position, and he goes to the football. He has that speed element, probably a step or two faster than Hardy, so he adds speed to our defense. But, at the same time, you're talking about a guy that's been an all-pro for five or six years in a row. We'll see how Jamie does after starting for a few years.
Rupert from Laredo, Texas: Do you think its hard to play under all that pressure of the expectations for your team?
Derrick Brooks: No. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best at what I do and to be one of the leaders on this team and help this team get to the goals that we want to achieve. Pressure is what you put on yourself, and there's no added pressure on me to have high expectations.
Junior from, Miami, Florida: How do you feel Shaun King has handled the rough last few games?
Derrick Brooks: Well, right now he's going through a critical point. Things were riding high, and now we're going through some struggles and the first finger is pointed at the quarterback. I think once he comes through this storm, he's going to be fine. It's just a part of growing up and gaining experience in this league.
Jerry from Lima, Ohio: How much of a threat do Robert Smith and the rest of the Vikings pose after the rushing success Detroit had against the Bucs?
Derrick Brooks: Number one is, the Vikings are number one in the league in rushing as a team. We've got to go out there and stop them, no matter what Detroit did. If we shut them down or they ran for 200 yards, the goals will still the same. We've got to go out and shut Minnesota's rushing game down, make them one-dimensional and throw the ball every time.
Jim from Largo, Florida: During this four game losing streak it must be difficult to maintain a positive attitude and to continue to do the things that need to be done to improve. What advice would you give to the youth of Tampa to help keep them focused when they start to experience some adversity in their lives?
Derrick Brooks: I think keeping football in its proper perspective allows me to have a positive outlook on life. I'm a positive person, and my positive attitude goes far and beyond this locker room and this team. I think that has helped me to adjust. So I would suggest to the youth that, if you have a positive attitude on life and you go through any struggles, you know you pray and you seek the Lord's help and you look for the positive things. Those are going to be the things that stick out. You never know who's watching you when you're having a tough time. They see that you're going through a storm and you have a positive attitude, then they may use you as an example to have a positive attitude.
Christian from Orlando, Florida: I haven't seen a dominating defense like yours since the '85 Bears. It seems that opposing offenses lately have been moving the ball when it really counts. Is this because you guys may be too aggressive and teams have picked up on this with quick passes, post patterns and draws?
Derrick Brooks: It's very simple. We make a mistake at critical points in a game. Then when the opportunity presents itself for the defensive player or the team to make a play, you have to make a play to shut down the other team's offense. It's as simple as that.
Shane from Henryville, Indiana: Looking at the defense this year, versus last year, I have seen a tendency to give up big plays. The last four games in particular, longer touchdowns were scored against us. How do you think we can put more pressure on the QB and keep from giving up the bigger plays?
Derrick Brooks: The big plays that we've been giving up have been coming from different positions, so we can't really nail one position. We've just got to play better collectively as a group and realize that any particular play, you can be in a position to make that play.
Moderator: It's been a hallmark of our defense for a long time that we don't give up the big play.
Derrick Brooks: Right, and we've got to get back to our signature style of play, and that's shutting people down, running the ball and creating turnovers.