Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux
Q: A lot of it just comes down to opportunities, right? Because of game situations you weren't getting a lot of swings, right? If you look at the pass rush snaps, do you think that's helped you get in a rhythm?**
A: The more opportunities you get to pass rush the more plays you are able to make. When you get one on ones and things like that you are able to take advantage of them if you stay consistent in your technique and things like that. Things have been good so far.
Q: What would it mean to you to be the first guy (defensive coordinator) Wink's (Martindale) ever had who gets a double-digit sack season?
A: I mean, honestly it would be a blessing, I guess. Right now, I'm at 8.5 sacks, most sacks I've ever had in the NFL, so it's like, it's only up from here. The bar keeps continuing to move and I'm proud of that.
Q: You made a point in the offseason to talk about how last year maybe in your mind you had a little bit more thought about numbers and then this year you weren't going to think about numbers. I don't know if you even pay attention to the company you are keeping with where you in the sack numbers…
A: I definitely have looked (laughs). I'll be honest. Yeah, because now you are chasing something, sometimes when your team is not in the best position, you start to look at in like what can I use to motivate me or what motivation can you bring to the defense or the guys around and it's playing good football. As a defense we've been able to do some great things and now, although things haven't been able to go as the season, you keep your motivation by continuing to reap the benefits of how good you guys are playing. Just playing together and trying to keep it going.
Q: What it's like playing pretty much every snap like you have been in the last couple of weeks?
A: Oh man – sacrifice your body, glorify your soul. You know, you go out there and play hard, it's going to hurt, but you know I guess the recognition feels a lot better.
Q: Coaches like to talk about things coming in bunches. I mean, the sacks seem to be coming in bunches now…
A: I think when people say the term, 'oh, they come in bunches,' that's almost disrespectful to me. And I say that in a sense, you see a guy like (Vikings outside linebacker) Danielle Hunter with 10 sacks, like he just didn't just go – now granted (Chargers outside linebacker) Khalil Mack went and got six sacks in one game, that's in bunches. Everybody else, a guy like Danielle Hunter that's got 10 sacks, he's been getting at least a sack every game and you talk about putting the work in and really execute your plan and your technique and things like that, it's a lot of hard work. You look at baseball and guys are hitting what? Less than 50 percent or whatever, are getting paid millions, right? You think about pass rush, out of how many snaps, you guys can do the math, it's almost however many 300, 400, 500 snaps a guys playing a year, a guy goes and gets 18 sacks, he's a legend, you know? I think that as pass rushers it's very hard and the guys that are able to do it at a high-level consistently, they deserve the credit.
Q: How are you playing every snap? Especially when you are on the injury report. How are you gutting through that?
A: Conditioning. It's all about conditioning, it's all about what you do in the offseason and that's kind of what I prided myself in knowing that last year I felt like I wasn't prepared and coming in and playing every snap and this year I knew what it was going to be. Just training and kind of putting myself through that in the offseason so that I could continue to make that run and that stretch at the end of the year.
Q: Obviously (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) is down. Is part of that like you've just got to pick up your teammates basically?
A: Yeah, just got to keep going. Even a guy like (defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams) being gone, you've got to kind of step into that role and be the leader that we need.
Q: With Leo being gone, what does that do for the defense? Obviously, you lose a great player…
A: Makes guys step up. You know it's always been next man up and now guys understand that they've got to continue to go. They've got to start to gel together and fill that team chemistry.
Q: There was this idea in the offseason, for me anyway, that we knew what (defensive lineman) Dex(ter Lawrence II) was able to accomplish last year and that if you were able to raise your game the way he did last year that the two of you together would really cause problems. Did you use that as any kind of motivation looking at your other teammates to see what guys were doing?
A: Definitely. When you have great players alongside of you, it's only right that you raise your level of play to theirs. Dex has been playing great and he's going to continue to play great and I want to continue to match him so that we can be a great front and a great defense.
Q: I know you weren't even aware of it last week, but you became aware of it that there had been a radio incident where (former Giants linebacker) Carl Banks had your back. Were you able to block that out or are you use it as a chip on your shoulder kind of guy?
A: If I'm being honest, if there is a retired NFL guy who goes on there and starts talking, then I may feel some more type of way with it because they played the game, but it's real tough on players that focus on people who haven't played the game or who are not playing the game or studied the game, right? And I don't just say you don't have to be an NFL player to understand football, but you have to study it to understand it. For me, I try to just stick to my facts and stick to the information that I get from the people who study the game.
Q: When you say you weren't prepared physically going into your rookie season as you were this year, was that because you just didn't realize how tough the NFL was compared to the college game?
A: When I say prepare physically, it's really mentally. Because there is so much that happens like it's Week 9, you ask anybody how they feel, they feel terrible. You go ask a rookie how he feels, he wants to quit (laughs). You know by the time Week 12 comes then it's like, when you go from training all season, you just played a college season and then you are at the combine and doing all this, so now it's like you come to the NFL it's like, 'I've been going for football for a year straight basically.' And now it's like okay, I'm also playing 60 snaps and the tempo is faster, everything. It's kind of just processing, and now I have been able to kind of update my recovery, update my training, update my mind so now that things have slowed down on the field, which can make me play faster and do things better.
Q: You said you looked at the list and you notice the names, (Steelers linebacker) T.J. Watt, (Browns defensive end) Myles Garrett and Kayvon Thibodeaux have the same number of sacks at this point in the season. Does that register a little differently?
A: Those two guys specifically, they'll go down as the greatest pass rushers to ever play the game. From that sense, yeah, it's amazing. We've just got to keep winning. I don't want to pride myself in self-goals or things like that…
Q: Individual stats…
A: Individual stats and goals, but I do want to make the Pro Bowl, that would be something that's amazing. I do want to be in the running for the defensive player of the year. Obviously, we are not playing the best as a team, so individual success doesn't come without team success, so I'm not worried about it, but it's dope to be in this position and be a guy that is successful too.