OSSIAN – Chandler Harnish enters his second NFL season with the Indianapolis Colts, and plans to be more prepared and competitive than he was as a wide-eyed rookie.
He took time out from training to speak to the Norwell Football Club banquet Thursday at Lighted Gardens, renewing old friendships with fans who remember him well as a standout Norwell quarterback.
Harnish, 24, answered questions from the assembled Norwell supporters. Here are some excerpts:
If you weren't playing for the Colts, what other NFL team would you like to play for that has the same attitude and atmosphere?
I don't really know about the other organizations. I do know, but this is hard for me to say, but I know the New England Patriots are first-class organization. It's hard for me to say. I was a Colts fans my whole life, but I do know they have a first-class organization. I think it's important to be around a great coach and great teammates and whatever team has that, I'd be more than willing to play for them. Don't get me wrong. I love the Colts, I really do.
What were the interviews like when you went through the NFL Combine?
The interviews are pretty crazy. They'll ask you some tough questions and put you on the spot. I didn't get real crazy questions, but you'll sit down with an offensive coordinator or sometimes a head coach and they'll say, 'Draw up your favorite play against Cover 2, tell me what your reads are, tell me the checks you're making at the line or scrimmage, tell me if a blitz comes where you're going to throw the ball' –bang, bang, bang, bang. You have to be on top of your game. But then also ask, 'Tell me about your mother.' I can go on all day about my mom.
Will prepare for your second season differently?
You learn a lot that first year. I definitely under-prepared. I thought I was preparing a lot, but there were times when I literally had no clue what was going on. I didn't tell anybody because I might get cut. I definitely need to prepare more. I need to take a different mentality. Last year, I was just like 'I want to make the team, I want to be on the roster and show people I can be in the NFL and make it.' Now I want to compete to be a starting quarterback. Yeah, I know Andrew Luck is the guy, but I want to make him better. I want him to compete every day and make that position better. Competitiveness breeds success in locker room, which will help the team.
Who were some of the Colts veteran leaders in the locker room?
Cory Redding, one of our defensive tackles, a first-year Colt, but a very vocal person, and he makes plays. That's important. If you're going to be a leader in the locker room, you need to make plays on the field. Another guy was Antoine Bethea, our safety. He's a guy who's easy to follow because he's such a good person, he does things the right way and works hard. Reggie Wayne – how do you not follow him? Robert Mathis is an unbelievable human being. He's a quiet guy and doesn't get as much press. But Robert Mathis is first-class all the way. He might be that unsung hero for us, although he did go to the Pro Bowl.
Do you feel like you learned more during the week or on the sideline during games?
You learn a lot as far as picking up knowledge during the week. On the sideline, you're picking up experience. You're on the road, you're in a tough environment, here's a big play in the game and what you need to do. It's hard to decipher which is more important. Both are very important to your development. But being on the sideline as far as a quarterback, is huge. …The seventh week I was moved to practice squad, and typically you don't travel after that, but they wanted me to travel because they wanted me to be exposed to what happens on the sidelines.
What's it like on the road when you lose?
It's very quiet, but you know what, guys are pretty good at putting it aside and moving on. You learn from your mistakes but don't dwell on it. Hold your head high, take it like a man, understand what your mistakes were and fix it. It's harder to lose at home because you've got 70,000 home fans and that ruins the weekend. You don't want to let people down. Winning on the road is the most fun. It's the most fun to silence that crowd.
What are differences between Bruce Arians and Chuck Pagano and how will Arians do in Arizona?
They are night and day different, but one thing coach Arians did was keep the same philosophy. Maybe not the same style, but the same philosophy. It was such a weird situation when coach Pagano went down, BA kept things flowing. We felt terrible when coach Pagano went down, we all came together, and we kept clicking and getting better because we were playing for a greater cause. I think coach Arians will do great in Arizona. He's a confident coach, he has a plan and he'll get the job done.
Was there any rookie hazing?
We had to stand up and sing in front of the whole team in Anderson. The whole team, the coaching staff, the front-office people. I had to get up there and sing a song. It's your choice. So I naturally decided to sing a song by Usher, one of the best R'n'B singers out there. I have no musical ability, zero, but I got them moving a little bit, and once they started clapping, I dropped the mike and walked off the stage.