Q: How has Peyton Manning changed the quarterback position in the last 15 years?
SMITH: “I mean it’s a tough question. When I came in, and even growing up watching him, certainly he was a guy doing a lot at the line of scrimmage, changing plays, calling a lot of his own plays. He really kind of epitomizes the—I mean, you hear it, the coordinator on the field. It’s tough though, I mean you’re not in the meeting rooms. I don’t know much about what actually goes on there, but certainly I think when people think about Peyton, I mean besides obviously being a great player, just doing a lot of stuff at the line of scrimmage his entire career.”
Q: In the old days, the quarterback used to call the plays, then the coach started sending them in. Is he kind of going back to the future?
SMITH: “Yeah, I guess. Certainly for a long time here, coaches were calling the plays. I mean, you got up and ran a play. Not to say he was the first, but I think he certainly took it to another level. Like I said, it’s tough when you’re not in there and you don’t know what’s going on and it’s kind of a little bit of speculation. He’s certainly been playing at, obviously, a high, high level for a long time.”
Q: With people saying this is the first real test, how much of a motivator is that to you?
SMITH: “I mean, there are tests every week. This one is bigger, because it’s a division game, no question and division implication. These games are so important, especially as the year goes on and you get down to the end of the line. Those games are huge and this one is no different.”
Q: Is it a respect thing in terms of proving the record?
SMITH: “That’s there, but I think the fact that it’s a division game, a division rival, division implications, I think that trumps everything.”
Q: What are your thoughts on
SMITH: “I play quarterback. I have nothing on that. I’m getting ready to play Denver.”
Q: Has it been a distraction?
SMITH: “Like I said, our focus is to go 1-0 this week. We have a huge division game at hand. We’re going on the road. That’s where our focus is.”
Q: Does it help that you have been in playoff games and big game situations?
SMITH: “I think anytime you’ve been playing in big games and for us, the stages have been getting bigger and bigger as the weeks have gone on. Certainly, this one is a little step up, but I think those are all good experiences, because in the end, it’s a football game. I think there is a little more that comes with it. For us, it’s just to kind of put all of that stuff aside and focus on the details.”
Q: Do you feel like it’s an obligation for guys who have bigger contracts to be leaders in the locker room?
SMITH: “I think the thing I respect the most is when guys are themselves. There are a lot of different forms of leadership and it comes in a lot of different ways, and I think the great thing in here is we have a bunch of guys that are willing to sacrifice. They’re selfless and put the team first. As far as leadership, we all handle it different ways.”
Q: Is that part of being a pro, dealing with distractions?
SMITH: “No question. I think it’s a lot different than the collegiate level or obviously the high school level. When you get to the NFL, there are a lot of other things that come with it, a lot of other things. I think the good teams are able to put that stuff aside and focus on football.”
Q: How do you put that aside?
SMITH: “I think it starts with the environment of the building, the environment of the locker room, where the focus is and the mindset of the guys. For us, we have a bunch of guys that are focused on winning and doing things the right way. For me, that starts in preparation; that starts during the week, in practice, film room, meetings and all of that.”
Q: What do you have to do offensively to beat Denver?
SMITH: “Score more points. In the end, this isn’t a contest that—yeah, they put up a ton of stats and have done all of that. For us, we just have to score more points than them. That’s the bottom line.”
Q: You can also help by keeping them off the field. Isn’t that part of it?
SMITH: “I’ve heard that strategy before. You know, keep away. That’s certainly not something we’re even talking about or focusing on at all. Obviously, for us, we have to go out there and execute. I think if you go out there and try and play keep away and hold the ball from them, I don’t think good things happen. For us, it’s just go out there and score points.”
Q: How do you do better touchdown-wise this game?
SMITH: “Yeah, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs there, in the red zone. Early off in the year, we started off really well in that area and really executed well in that area, and as of late, we haven’t. So, yeah certainly an area of focus for us and when you’re down there, that’s kind of across the board, across the NFL, you want sevens. When you get them, your chances of winning go up. For us, no question, when we do get down there, let’s get some touchdowns.”
Q: How much has the return of
SMITH: “It’s huge, getting him back. To say the least, he’s a great player. He does so much for us in the run game and the pass game. He’s played a lot of football in this league and caught a lot of balls. Anytime you get a player of his caliber back, it’s a good thing.”
Q: What’s your experience in Denver?
SMITH: “I haven’t been to Denver in a regular season game, since my second year, at the end of the year. I played there last year in the preseason.”