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Time2play interviews: Patrick Surtain Sr.

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With his son emerging as one of the league’s top rookie corners, we sat down to get an update from the former Dolphins and Chiefs cornerback. Since retirement, Patrick Surtain Sr. has taken the role of head football coach at Florida’s American Heritage School (and continues to be an avid fan of online sports betting).

Named the 2020 High School Football America National Coach of the Year, we asked Surtain for his thoughts on how his son is doing with the Denver Broncos, the toughest receivers he faced in his career, trash talk, Tua, and who he thinks has the best chances at landing this year’s MVP award. 

His rising-star son

Who is the best corner in the league? 

“I might be biased but I would probably say my son! In all seriousness, I’m going to respect the guys who’ve been there for a minute. 

“Jalen Ramsey has been really consistent over the years, he’s had a good season so far. Darius Slay has been doing it well for a number of seasons. There’s a bunch of guys been playing well in recent weeks but I’ll go with those two for now.”

What have you made of your son’s development? 

“I think it’s been stellar. For a rookie to come in and start the second game of the year? He’s been one of the best corners out there, not just on his team, but in the league. 

“If you look at the statistics, the way they play man to man, he’s done a really nice job. He has room to grow, but to be thrown in there as a rookie at an early stage, he has been solid for Denver so far.”

side by side image of miami dolphins nfl player patrick surtain sr and broncos player patrick surtain ii playing in football games

Facing Hall of Fame receivers

Toughest receiver you faced? 

“I had a bunch of them! I played against six hall of fame receivers! I played Jerry Rice towards the end of his career, but he was still really good. Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison. 

“Those guys were tough, but Marvin was in our division so we played him twice and he was always a challenge to play against. The bigger guys I was good with, I found it a bit tougher against the smaller, quicker guys. I’d probably say Marvin was the toughest.”

Any receivers who trash-talked? 

“Those guys I mentioned have big personalities on the field. Ochocinco used to talk a lot of stuff, but it was all good fun and all competitive. You had to line up each time to win against those guys and it was always made for a big battle.”

denver broncos nfl player patrick surtain ii playing in a football game

Analyzing his son’s team

Is Denver underrated? 

“Their record is probably what they deserve. They have a top-three scoring defense. The most important thing in this league is to stop the other team from scoring. 

“They could be better than 5-5, but certain things haven’t gone right. There’s a good mix of veteran guys and youngsters, they have a bunch of guys who can get the job done. I like the no.27 (Nate Hairston) and a few other guys. This last seven games they’ve turned it up a notch.”

Where do you rate their secondary in the NFL? 

“I think they’re top five, maybe even top three. They have so many interchangeable pieces back there. Like I said, some guys who are hurt are coming back to action now. 

“They have guys on top of guys in different positions and come November, December, early January, the secondary group are going to have to keep showing up.” 

The future of the Dolphins

Is Tua the man for Miami going forward?

“I’m a Tua fan. I’m a little biased with our Alabama connection. I’ve seen this kid do it, he has some unique traits. He might not have the strongest arm, but his anticipation is amazing. 

“He needs his core receivers back, he hasn’t had his full unit around him in two years. The Dolphins want to see that too before making a long-term decision on him. He has a great work ethic and I’m a big fan.”

Do you like Flores as head coach?

“I think he’s the man to lead them forward. This is such a fickle business. You can win 10 games one year, and if you fall below those standards the next year you’re gone. 

“I think they need a big-time running back, keep those receivers fit and healthy. They have to keep pushing- the main thing is stability and the ownership should give him a chance. Give him a couple years to get things together.”

miami dolphins nfl player patrick surtain sr playing in a football game

The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes

What do you make of KC? 

“They had the Superbowl loss hangover. They went to two straight, but suddenly you’re the hunted and every team ups their game against you. Talent wins this game and they have a generational talent with Patrick Mahomes. 

“He’s been playing well the last couple of weeks- which is probably bad news for Denver! The defense has turned it up a notch too recently. They’re still the Chiefs, you know how this league is. If you have a triggerman, you always have a chance in any game.”

Thoughts on KC as a franchise? 

“It’s a lot to do with Patrick Mahomes. You know you usually need to go to Arrowhead and score 30 points to have a chance. Andy Reid has put a tremendous offense together. 

“You can’t score, you won’t beat the Chiefs. Mahomes is a generational talent and still has room to grow. 

“They concede a lot of yards, but they take the ball away and, as a defense, if you limit possessions and keep scoring down, you always have a chance. Their offense is so good, they’ll have a chance in any game no matter what the situation.”

How would you defend against Mahomes?

“Some teams have had success against him this season. Taking away the big plays. You can’t take them all away, but you can limit them. 

“You have to make the Chiefs do things they aren’t accustomed to. Andy Reid wants the big, splashy plays. The long routes. They don’t want to run the ball constantly, so you have to put them under pressure and change their game plan. You have to make them make adjustments.”

How important is Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs? 

“He makes things happen. He’s so smart, so crafty, he knows route combinations and is always around the football. He can blitz, play low, play high, he’s a triple threat for the team and a true leader. 

“They depend on him to do a lot and he relishes that role. He’s been so important for them over recent years. You know how this league is, he’s getting slightly older. But he’s going to find value elsewhere if it’s not with the Chiefs. He is a turnover machine and will always find a place in this league. 

cheifs nfl player Patrick Surtain Sr playing in a game

MVP and Super Bowl Predictions

And who is your MVP prediction?

“It’s so open. Earlier in the year I liked Kyler Murray but he’s missed a few games. The GOAT Tom Brady is always up there. 

“One who has emerged is Jonathan Taylor with the Colts, he’s been lights out recently for the Colts. I’m a big Aaron Rodgers guy. I don’t know any other player who has more value to his team than that guy. It’s really competitive and you can make a case for so many players at this stage. It’s going to be an exciting eight weeks. “

Which two teams will meet in the Super Bowl final, and who wins? 

“Everything is so open. 12 teams in the AFC could still do it! Lots of people were tipping up the Buffalo Bills but they’ve struggled in the last couple of weeks.

“This has been a crazy NFL season so far. I’m hoping that Denver can get hot because Mile High is a tough place to play at this time of year. They have a good recipe with the running game and solid defense if they make the playoffs. 

“If I had to pick now in the NFC, I would go with Green Bay. The AFC, a team who is playing well right now is New England. They’ve turned it around recently. Belichick knows what is expected in the playoffs, Mac Jones takes care of the ball and is efficient. If I had to pick two teams right now, that’s what I’d go with.”

Finally, what’s the highlight of your NFL career? 

“Probably 2001- I was the NFL defensive back of the year. I led the league in interceptions and pass breakdowns. To do that as a kid from New Orleans and achieve that, being the best in your position in the world, that’s a big accomplishment. To be recognized in that way, you can’t take anything like that for granted.”

Patrick Surtain Sr. career stats

Nfl Illustration 02
Year Team Games Tackles Sacks INTs
1998 MIA 16 23 0.0 2
1999 MIA 16 32 2.0 2
2000 MIA 16 42 1.0 5
2001 MIA 16 43 1.0 3
2002 MIA 14 40 1.5 6
2003 MIA 15 34 0.0 7
2004 MIA 15 40 1.0 4
2005 KC 15 47 0.0 4
2006 KC 16 60 1.0 1
2007 KC 16 50 0.0 2
2008 KC 8 11 0.0 1

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