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Brad Smith Q+A: Bills, Bills, Bills

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Brad Smith can do it all. After playing quarterback at Missouri, he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 draft by the Jets. He played five years in New York before inking a four-year deal with Buffalo two seasons ago.

In his career, he’s thrown for 51 yards and a score (not including a 45-yard bomb to Jerricho Cotchery in the 2009 playoffs), rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and four touchdowns, caught over 100 balls for nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns, returned 107 kicks, housing four of them, and even recorded 76 tackles. He’s also been selected to the Pro Bowl as an offensive lineman and won four Coach of the Year awards.

Okay, so the last sentence isn’t true, but Smith’s achievements all over the field are undeniably impressive. He’s also making his mark off the field.

This year, he is nominated for the Bart Starr Award, given annually to the player who “best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.” He also landed an internship with Men’s Health magazine, where he’ll work as a columnist and attend New York Fashion Week.

The QB-turned-wildcat master-turned-fashionista was nice enough to take some time to talk to TD Daily about the nomination, the internship, the Super Bowl and everything in between.

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TD: You’re a nominee for the Bart Starr Award this season which is voted on by the players. What does that mean to you?

BS: It’s really cool. For my peers and colleagues to vote for me, it means a lot, you know. Because of what my mom taught me growing up—how to carry myself and have character and things like that—so, that’s why it means the most.

TD: This offseason, you have an internship with Men’s Health magazine, where you’ll be covering and writing about Fashion Week. How did you get involved with them and what exactly will you be doing there?

BS: I was interested and reached out and talked through it in terms of logistics and getting it done. They offered me an opportunity to work with them during Fashion Week and to learn about the industry. So I’m excited about that, looking forward to getting out of Buffalo for a few days and experiencing the Fashion Week.

TD: I heard that you’re going to be doing pretty typical “intern things.” How long has it been since you’ve done basic stuff like that that?

BS: Oh, man. I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten coffee for anybody.

TD: What about as a rookie?

BS: Yeah, actually, I did. I did. You know, on away games I had to go buy fried chicken for all the receivers so I would do that every Friday. So I guess I do have practice at it.

TD: Who was the toughest receiver on you when you were a rookie with the Jets?

BS: They were all great—there were some really good guys. Most of them, you know, make you take them out to dinner and spend a lot of money or get some food before the flight. So I interned my rookie season.

TD: You play lots of positions—you return kicks, you play some QB, some wide receiver. What do you enjoy most?

BS: I enjoy them all. I played quarterback my whole life, you know, in college and in every league I played in I played quarterback. So getting to the NFL and getting the opportunity to do a lot of different things is a great learning experience and I just enjoy being out there, period. I just love the game.

TD: Do you ever wish you could get a crack at just being a starting quarterback and not playing other positions?

BS: Oh yeah, I would love to have that opportunity. But most things in life you can’t choose. So you have to move forward and get better at the things that you have control over—the things in your life that you can control. So that’s what I focus on.

TD: Right now we’re seeing a lot of guys who can really run succeeding at QB—RG3, Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, even Luck can move—do you think there’s a big shift in what wins games at QB, or do you think it’s just a coincidence that a few running-quarterbacks are coming in at the same time?

BS: I don’t, and I think that nowadays most quarterbacks can get out of the pocket—Aaron Rodgers runs, he can move in the pocket and runs when he has to. I just think it’s the natural evolution. When you got a guy who sits in the pocket and nobody’s open, he can throw the ball away which is a good decision. But if you have a guy back there who can see that nobody’s open and choose running lanes, he can maximize the most you can get out of that play as opposed to just throwing the ball away or things like that. You have the opportunity for another big play because the guy can run.

TD: The one argument against these guys is that there aren’t many older quarterbacks who can really run the ball. Michael Vick is sort of the exception to that but we’re seeing him struggle more as he gets older with turnovers. Do you think this type of game can sustain itself? Will they have to learn to be pocket passers and pick their spots when to run?

BS: You already see it. I think that sometimes people who don’t watch the entire games of these guys playing, they just assume that they run the ball all the time. The truth is they can sit in the pocket and make all the throws. If there’s a running lane, they can pull it down and get a lot of big yardage and slide down without taking a hit. Steve Young was a guy that ran a whole lot and was able to win a bunch of Super Bowls. So I think if we really sit down and look at the games and don’t assume without watching them, these guys are really good.

TD: Your Bills went 6-10 this year, but CJ Spiller really had a great season. You get to watch him every weekend and during the week in practice—how good do you think he can be?

BS: Oh, man. He can be as good as anybody—I think anybody that’s played the game. I think he has that speed of course as his greatest asset, but then his vision and he’s learning the patience. He’s so fast and he moves so quick, but he’s learning to be patient and he has power when he needs to have it. I think he’s going to keep developing and you’re going to see him get even better. That’s the crazy thing. He has so much ability that you guys haven’t seen, but I see that everyday in practice.

TD: Fred Jackson is also a great back—you have two really good running backs there. But I feel like Spiller might be able to take on the feature back role. Do you think so?

BS: You know, I don’t have to make that decision. Good thing I’m not a coach, because that’s a tough thing. Freddy was a serious MVP candidate last year before he got hurt, so you know, I’ll leave that one alone because both guys are really good.

TD: In Week 1, you guys went to New York and got beat by your old team, the Jets. Then, in Week 17, they came to you and you beat them pretty easily. They looked like two completely different teams by the time they got to Buffalo at the end of the season. Obviously, they had a wild season. What do you think happened to them and can it be fixed?

BS: It’s hard to tell what’s going on scheme-wise and what’s breaking down that’s really hurting them. But, you know, there’s a lot to be said about momentum. When we first played them in the first game, they were feeling really good about themselves and they played like it. But as a team the morale is just down and they’ve gone through a lot and it just seemed that way at the end of the season. They play hard and have talented players, but it’s hard when you can’t rally around each other and your team. It takes a little bit out of you.

TD: Do you think they can stick with Sanchez for another year? You played with him and you guys made some really memorable playoff runs.

BS: What they should do, I don’t know, but I think he’s definitely proven himself with those playoff runs and things that he’s been able to do. He struggled a little bit last year. But as a former teammate wanting the best for each guy, it would be great for him to have a chance to regain himself and be the player that he knows he is. It’s just a matter of getting that chance and I’m sure he’s preparing himself to do that.

TD: Recently there have been a lot of rumors about them maybe trading Darrelle Revis because they might not be able to keep him. Do you think they can actually trade Revis? Can you really trade a guy like that?

BS: I mean, he’s really good, obviously. He can come to Buffalo if he wants to. I would think they wouldn’t do that, but you never know what’s going on. He’s the best player on that team and one of the top five or ten players in the league period. So to think that they would just trade him like that would be tough to imagine.

TD: What’s your fondest memory with the Jets?

BS: It was fun, that time was fun. That team—it’s not like we were 14-2 or 12-4, you know we were 9-7, hanging around there. We knew we had to fight for everything. And we had a lot of guys that rallied around each other. So my fondest memory was just guys sticking together and the times in the locker room where at halftime we might be down or it’s a tough game and guys didn’t flinch and guys were supporting each other and that’s what I enjoyed most. I think that just parlayed onto the field. That’s something I really have a lot of fond memories about.

TD: I feel like the Jets management probably just got a little too fancy, and they started getting rid of veterans. They didn’t bring you back, they traded Leon Washington, they let Thomas Jones go, Alan Faneca. Really crucial guys that I guess they thought they could just replace for cheaper and then all of the sudden the team chemistry got a whole lot worse. That’s what I thought, anyway. What do you think about that?

BS: Yeah, it was all of the sudden. You know, you talk about Tony Richardson, Damian Woody, Shaun Ellis, James Ihedigbo, Jerricho Cotchery. The names go on. When you lose guys like that, you lose talented players but you really lose guys who are leaders and who care about the game and who winning games means a lot to. So that’s a major hit to take to lose guys like that.

TD: Which team surprised you the most—either with good play or bad—in the postseason?

BS: I knew Seattle was good. I’m thinking the Ravens for me. They were flying under-the-radar, they were expected for Denver to come in and beat them. And then New England at home, to beat them as well. But they had that gritty kind of attitude and that never-quit scrappy attitude, and what they’ve been able to do is pretty special.

TD: You guys played the Niners this year around the middle of the season. How good is that defense?

BS: They’re good. They’re good. No doubt about it. That front seven is the best in football that we played this year. They can dominate you on the edges with pass-rush and inside stopping the run with those D-tackles and those linebackers. You might not have enough time to get the ball in the air down the field against those DBs as well. They’re definitely top and I love playing with a great defense, you know, and San Francisco has it and the Ravens have it, so I’m excited to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday and see how they match up.

Leo Sepkowitz is TDdaily’s NFC North blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @LeoSepkowitz.