The second-year player has helped solidify the Broncos' run defense, and he's coming into his own as an NFL starter. We caught up with Gotsis about his improvement, his Australian roots and the similarities between Cirque du Soleil and the NFL.
Going into the offseason, a lot of people on the outside were saying, "Gotsis was the wrong pick." What was it like to hear that sentiment and how did it motivate you for this season?
I don't even listen to those people. The people that wanted me here got me in the building. The rest of it's just noise. You can't let people outside of what's happening in this building dictate what you think and what you do. I think that didn't really affect me much. I was more on myself than anything. We're playing some good football this year, and we just have to keep things rolling.
Could you tell at the time that you just needed to get a little bit healthier?**
I can say that now. In the moment, I feel like, if you have the opportunity to be on the field, you have to take it with both hands regardless of how healthy you are. It might be the only chance you get. I basically just knew I had to work hard this offseason and come in and finally get healthy and know that I'm 100 percent out there playing. That's what it feels like this year, being able to play the run and help our team out more. That's the plus side of it.
Is that what feels like the biggest change between this year and last year?I think being healthy, second year in the defense, we've added a bunch of guys to the room. This whole culture that we've created on defense this year has just been awesome. I think we take pride regardless of the score, regardless of what time it is in the game. We can be three scores down or three scores up, and they're about to go on a two-minute drive, and we're thinking we've got to go three-and-out. That's our mentality regardless of the situation. We know we need to make stops.
You're the highest-drafted player out of Australia. What did that mean to you at the time?It's awesome to be a guy that can be in the position that I'm in. Even if it's not huge back there, you can impact a few people and show that no matter where you're from or whatever your upbringing was, you can make an opportunity with something. It's going to take hard work and commitment and things like that, and sometimes there might be luck along the way, but if you're prepared to make the sacrifice to do what you want and chase a dream, then good things can happen. That's the thing I'm probably happiest about is that opportunity to show other people that if you really want to do it, you can do it.
If someone's in Melbourne for a day, what are some of the places you have to see?**
You definitely have to head down to the city, and you go down to Flinders Street Station, State Street, Swan Street and Collins Street. Anywhere in the city, it's just awesome. There's so many different cultures, so many different people, so many different faces, so much to do. It's one of the most livable cities in the world. It's just an awesome place to be. You can find something to do every day down there. It's pretty unique.
You and former teammate Kalif Raymond went to see Cirque du Soleil over the summer. What was that experience like, and did you gain an appreciation for their athleticism?
People look at what we do and they see us as almost superheroes with the things we do, the way we move, the way we jump. I look at those guys and girls, and they're up there holding themselves up on one arm on a stick and holding their leg up next to their head. The amount of focus, … the amount of work they put in behind the scenes, that's the thing people don't see, and that's the thing I have the appreciation for. It's kind of the same in our situation. A lot of people don't see the Monday-through-Saturday grind, and then they flick on the TV Sunday to watch the game and think that we just go back to our happy life. It's the same thing with these guys. I'm sure they're in there lifting every day. I just have an appreciation for the art and what they bring to the table. … It's not just the wow right now, it's the effort and the detail they put in that leads to everything.
As a Georgia Tech alum, you're quite used to going against the triple option in practice. What's the thing most people don't understand about how tough that is to stop?
The toughest thing is definitely, in college, just to get guys to play gap-responsible defense. Everyone's got a gap, and even though your gap can move a little bit, you're responsible for your gap. Especially with a lot of those cut blocks, you've got to keep your feet, play with your hands and you can't get lost with your eyes looking in the backfield. I can't give away too many secrets. We've got to win some games. It's definitely an offense that makes you play disciplined football and it's an offense that, if you're on the defensive side, makes you play hard and play fast.
I'm guessing you don't miss seeing that?
No, no. I definitely don't miss wearing the knee braces to a Wednesday or Thursday practice and getting cut at practice.