Head Coach Norv TurnerOn playing at home and not having to deal with inclement weather:
“Obviously our emphasis is this weekend and that’s one of the reasons you push like we did in December to get the bye and have a game at home.” Is Darrelle Revis the best shutdown cornerback in football?
“I don’t like the term ‘shutdown corner’ because I think that’s hard to find and it gets thrown around pretty loosely, but I think I might use that term with Revis. He’s awfully impressive on tape. He just goes after it and he plays every play like this game is meant to be played and he is very impressive.” What did you see in their games against common opponents like Tennessee, Miami and Cincinnati?
“You try to go through all of them and you’ve got to be careful not to watch too much. They do a great job of having a specific game plan for each team they play and they do a great job of going out and trying to take away the things you do best. They’re a very versatile running team. You’re not first in the league in rush offense unless you have varied schemes and they present you a lot of problems in terms of the way they attack you.” Your common opponents aren’t like you though, so can you take a lot from that?
“The common opponents, the teams aren’t the same and I’m sure they spent more time at looking at teams that are similar to their defense in terms of how we are going to attack them.” How much better are you against the run now than you were early in the year?
“Just statistically you see that over the last 10 games it’s a total difference. I think we’re in the middle of the pack, 11th or 14th or whatever it is. I’m not a big stat guy because each game is different. Early we were either injured or new. That’s not a good combination. Those guys, I just give them a great deal of credit, the defensive line for doing what they’ve done.” What does it mean for your team to be as healthy as it is at this stage in the season?
“That’s what we talked about, having a bye. Last Wednesday if we did this, there would have been a host of names on the injury report and there would be some guys that I was concerned if they could play or not. I think we’re going to be as healthy as you could ask to be going into a game at this point.” As a team that gets so many big plays out of the passing game, how do you game plan for a team that has only given up eight passing touchdowns this season?
“We need to run the football. That’s something that’s been important to us through this winning streak we’ve had. I’ll go back to the same deal, statistically we’re in the top 15 in the run over the last 11 games, where obviously we rank not where I’d like to mention (the entire season). We need to have balance and we need to take shots. That’s what we do. Our guys, they’re going to go after the football and the Jets are awfully good in the secondary so it’s going to be a great contest.”
How do you think Vincent Jackson matches up with Revis?
“That’s really a hard one to tell and that’s really why you go play. They do such a good job with their coverages and changing it up. I don’t think they give you great looks at just going out there and knowing…it’s not like you get five, six, eight shots at him one-on-one in a row. They do a great job of disguising and mixing their coverages and they use him extremely well.” What are the trademarks of Rex Ryan’s defenses?
“They’re obviously very well coached. They zero in on the things you do best and try to take those things away and make you go to things maybe you’re not as good at. They’re very aggressive and always have been.” People talk a lot about New York’s blitz. How do you feel about the way your team has handled pressure?
“We’ve gotten a lot better. That’s one of the keys to what we’ve been able to do. Every week is a new challenge. This is a different style but I think Philip sees things awfully quick and he does get the ball out. That’s one of the things, obviously, when you’re confident and you’re good, you look forward to the blitz because it creates not only one-on-one situations but also in the zone blitz, it creates seams where you can make big plays.” Are they like Baltimore defensively?
“They’re like Baltimore in terms of the scheme because that’s the defense Rex put in in Baltimore and that’s the defense they run with the Jets. Where Baltimore was young and really inexperienced in the secondary, this team is the best secondary we will have played this year.” What are your impressions of Mark Sanchez?
“I’m very impressed. I know he went through a (tough) stretch in the middle. Games do that to you. You get behind. Different teams you play, you’re trying to do some different things but they’ve really focused in on what he does best, what their offense is about and he complements that extremely well. The one thing about playing quarterback when you run the ball that well, you get good looks in terms of one-on-one. You don’t have to read coverages quite as much. With the big play action, you get guys singled up so it takes some of the decision making out of it. He throws the ball extremely accurately and he throws the deep ball real well.” Are you seeing teams blitz you less and less because Philip is so proficient at handling it?
“There’s no question. We’ve made big plays against the blitz and that will slow it down. Then you see some teams that they’re going to blitz no matter what. They’re going to blitz in certain situations no matter what. The Jets tend to be in situations that kind of team.” How important is it to have LaDainian Tomlinson healthy going into the postseason?
“It’s great. It was hard for him last year because he was really coming on in December and he got hurt in that last regular season game and that was really difficult for him to not be able to play. I know this is something that he’s really looked forward to. It’s really important to him.” How much do you worry about momentum when the Jets had a big win last week and you were resting?
“Momentum is a big part of this game. I think the way we practiced today, our guys haven’t lost that edge, haven’t lost that momentum. The Jets have great momentum. I don’t care what the circumstance of the teams that are left in this thing, everyone who is going into these playoffs this week is playing a really good football team. Jimmy Johnson always said, ‘You’ve got two good teams playing. It’s the team that goes out and plays the best.’ That’s what’s going to happen this weekend. That momentum might be a factor for a few series or in the first quarter, but then it’s going to come down to who comes out and performs the best.” What was your reasoning in doing what you did during the bye week with practice?
“It was three days and we kept our schedule. That’s what you’re talking about in terms of losing momentum or losing that rhythm. We had a lightened-down game week Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. The only difference was we didn’t play a game on Sunday. I think it helped and I think we didn’t get too far away from what we’re trying to get done.” Is it even more important to pressure a rookie quarterback and try to rattle him?
“It would be great to get pressure on their quarterback but the hardest thing is that’s what they’ve done over this last stretch where they’ve made this comeback. They’re running the ball as well and they’re deciding when they want to throw. You’ve got to stop the run. If we can get them into some long situations, get into some two-minute situations, those things where you know it’s pass, then we’ll have a good chance of trying to get some pressure on him.” Are you happy with how your team has practiced?
“I really like the way our guys practiced today.” How are the Jets running the ball well against teams that overload the box?
“They’ve got good backs, they’ve got a good scheme. They mix it up in terms of mixing in a little bit of the Wildcat. They’re really well coached. They have an outstanding offensive line and they’ve got a good play-action pass game so you’ve still got to respect that.” QB Philip Rivers How does it feel to have a skinny injury report today?
“I think that can show you the value of a bye, from a physical standpoint. It allows you to get some guys healthy that have been nicked up and it allows you to get some guys who have played your normal 16-game season some bumps and bruises to get an extra six or seven days of not having that game in between. We feel healthy and fresh and now we’re heading towards being as prepared as we can be to go out and play our best.” What do you think about the New York blitz and your ability to handle it?
“It’s as good of a blitz package and scheme as we’ve faced this year. We faced a heavy dose of it when we played Baltimore this year; Philadelphia presented some challenges. This group does a lot of different things that we have to be prepared for. We feel like we will have a plan and scheme together to handle all of those things. You’re playing against a good team and that’s the fun thing about the playoffs; it’s a lot of good verses good out there and whoever can execute the best will be on top.” Is there a difference with them that maybe they have a little better secondary then you’ve faced?
“They have a lot solid secondary. (Darrelle) Revis gets a lot of attention, as he should. He’s right up there with the top corners, if not the best, in the league. It’s a group effort. They collectively know their scheme and play it very well. The one thing about their secondary is they play the ball very well. That’s one thing that stands out, that they’re able to break on balls and play the ball very well; it’s an attacking. Everything that you read and see and what the statistics say, that’s what the film shows. We’ll have our work cut out for us, but we feel like we’ll be up for the task.” How will you plan for the Darrelle Revis against Vincent Jackson matchup? What will Revis’ impact be?
“Well certainly, when you’ve got a great player on the other side they have an impact and can affect things you may want to do. But this game isn’t between Vincent and Revis. There are 10 other guys on both sides of the ball and a lot of things have to happen to go get the ball in the end zone and a lot of things for them to stop us. That will be certainly a matchup worth paying attention to; I know you guys will pay a lot of attention to it. We’ll be focused on finding ways to get the ball into the end zone.” In the playoffs, are you more motivated by the chance at winning a championship or the fear of losing?
“We’re trying to get one step closer to winning a championship. I think the hating to lose mentality and approach is what keeps that from happening. We find ourselves here in the final eight; it’s been three or four years in a row now. There’s not fun prize for getting this far. We know that. We’re going to fight like crazy to get to the final four. That’s all we’re worried about. The one game approach and mentality I’ve stood up here and talked about every Monday and bored you all with, we’re going to take that same one. It’s worked the past 11 and we need it to work this one, and then we’ll worry about the next one later.” How much do you enjoy the challenge of going up against the number one defense in the league?
“It’s playoff football. Usually the best defenses and teams that can put the ball in the end zone offensively are who’s left. We’re facing a heck of a team; number one rush offense; number one defense in the league. We like to think we’re pretty good in some categories as well. It’s going to be a great matchup. It’s what you expect. Nothing is easy at this point in the year. Whoever can put the best four quarters together will move on.” Everyone is talking about the Vincent Jackson/Darrelle Revis matchup. How important is it to incorporate Antonio Gates, LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles?
“From sideline to sideline, every guy that you can have up at the skill positions has touched the ball and have made plays for us. It’s been a group effort to throw the football and score points and everything we’ve done and it will need to be that again to have success on Sunday.”
Can you see in practice a difference in some of the guys with going 10 or 11 days between games?
“You can tell a freshness is there. When you don’t have to play four quarters on Sunday and you get a few days off mixed in with some very good days of practice like we’ve been able to have, there’s not doubt that there’s a freshness and a little bounce to you that you can tell you’ve had that week off. That only gets you so far. That gets you to kickoff then you’ve got to go play.” Are there some guys that seem much different today than maybe a week ago because of the rest?
“Not necessarily, not worth singling out. I know individuals could tell you they feel better and why they feel better. There’s guys that didn’t play in that last game because they were nicked up; guys that haven’t been able to practice on Wednesday and Thursday in the past that were able to practice. I think that’s evident. To single out who stood out today, I thought it was a really solid Wednesday practice. I like where we are preparation-wise.” It seems on paper that the Jets are a run at you kind of team, while the Chargers incorporate many players. Do you think that gives you some sort of advantage?
“Teams do what they do well. Obviously the Jets’ approach, it is a total approach; it’s an offensive and defensive team approach, and their approach has worked for them to get them this far. Our approach has worked for us. Two different styles in a sense, but two different make ups of different teams. You do what’s best for your 45 guys that you dress out. They’ll do that on Sunday, as we will, and we’ll see what plays out.” In 2006 and 2007 you played the Ravens’ Rex Ryan defense. How much is that experience, knowing those principles, going to help you?
“Well, again, that’s I don’t know how many plays we ran in that game, that’s 60 plays of experience against that defense. As we change plays and thoughts offensively in the past three, four years, they’ve done the same defensively. And you also do what’s best for your current defense or your current offense. That’s what they’re doing with their personnel. There are some similarities, but again, there are tweaks and things evolve over a three, four year period on both sides of the ball.” OLB Shaun Phillips Is there more premium on a pass rush with a rookie quarterback?
“It’s always a premium on any quarterback, it doesn’t matter if it’s a 10-year veteran or a rookie quarterback. The quarterback is a guy that has the ball in his hands the most, so who better to get pressure on.”
How much better are you against the run than you were earlier in the season?
“We’ve learned that we have to stop the run collectively. It’s a collective thing and all 11 guys have one goal, and that’s to stop the run. I don’t think we can take the stats from this season because it’s now the playoffs and every stat get thrown out the window which is good for us because now we get a chance to have our run defense where we want it. So we’re looking forward to the challenge. Obviously they are a good football team and a very dominant run team but who knows, they may come out and pass the ball. But what we’re doing is concentrating on what the San Diego Chargers do best and executing to the best of our abilities.” Because there were so many guys in and out on the defensive line, was there any point in which you got a sense that it was going to be alright?
“I’ve been like that since day one by the way guys prepare in practice. Everyone handles their business in practice and really prepares well to win ball games. So no matter who’s in there I believe they can get the job done. Unfortunately that’s not always the case but we have been on a nice win streak and the guys have been doing a good job in preparing and executing in the games.” What motivates you more in the playoffs; winning a championship or the fear of losing?
“I hate losing more than anything. I won’t even let my kids beat me in anything. We’re going with the mindset in the game that we won’t lose. We are going to play to win in everything we do. The feeling of losing hurts so much that it makes you work that much harder. And for me, that’s my main focus.” Rex Ryan said that San Diego is due for a bad game, how do you overcome that?
“I personally believe that we have had bad games but we’ve been able to overcome adversity. There are games like the Giants game where we had to claw and fight and come back and win that game. Again, we overcame adversity. We can’t think about what Coach Ryan has to say. We have to think about what we do. We are going to continue with the mindset that it’s about what the Chargers do and how we execute our game plan.” There’s all this talk about how good the Jets defense is, what about the Chargers defense? Do you guys feel slighted a bit?
“Not at all. Again, we have zero stats right now because the regular season is over. Yes they have a great defense and yes they fly around and they do some things well. But we do some things well also. All the talk will be determined come this Sunday. That’s what we are looking forward to Sunday as I’m sure they are also.” Does the flyover before the game do anything for you?
“Honestly it pumps me up no matter what stadium I’m in. Not only that those guys are fighting over there to give us our freedom to play this game, but just the energy and the atmosphere that it sets, pumps adrenaline through all of us. It gets me pumped and fired up.”
How long did it take the defense to adjust without Jamal Williams?
“Since day one. We had to because we had no choice. It was the same situation with Shawne Merriman last year. This year we also lost a great defensive player in Jamal but we have the mindset that it’s not about one person, it’s about 11. 11 of us have to be on the same page in order to be successful. We are only as good as our weakest link and we know that this is a team sport. That’s why this game is such a great sport; everyone has to do their job in order to win.”
How does it feel to be healthy going to the playoffs?
“It’s incredible. You’ve been in here long enough to see that we haven’t been able to be healthy going into the playoffs and I think that in any sport, whoever is healthiest at the end of the day usually pulls together and ends up winning a championship. When your key players are out, you do suffer a bit. But it takes a strong guy and a good team to step up and fill that void of that player” Have any of the injuries made the guys on the team closer to one another?
“Of course. Every day we become closer and more of a family. The core of guys who’ve been here for the last six or seven year like Quentin Jammer, Philip Rivers, myself, and L.T. We’ve been here for the majority of times so we get closer every day. One thing that’s good about our teams is that everyone hangs out with everyone. Whether if it’s on the field, or in the locker room, or off the field. I can play dominoes with Philip, Philip goes and plays dominoes with L.T. and he plays with somebody else. We are really all close and that carries over to the games on Sunday. When it’s crunch time, we know that somebody will step up and make a play. We all have trust that everyone will do their job and do it to the best of their abilities.” How deep is your defense? Do you feel that it’s pretty complete?
“It doesn’t what 10 other guys are beside me out there because I know that they will get the job done. It really doesn’t matter. Whether it’s 11 healthy guys or 11 replacements, we have to go out there and we have execute. It’s not the individual player; it’s the group of players together collectively. It’s been doing it all year, we’ve been doing it collectively. Everyone brings up that we’re giving up four yards a game against the run. Yes, we are giving up four yards a game, but if we have to give up four yards a game against the run and win a ball game, then we’ll do that every time. Obviously it’s been working for us and obviously it’s been a winning formula, so we’re going to continue to get out there and execute our game plan and keep playing hard. They’re a good football team coming in here and they’re playing for a lot, just like we’re playing for a lot. Everything will be answered on Sunday.” How do you compare the Jets’ wildcat to others that you have seen?
“As you guys know, they run the wildcat four or six times a game. Of course we’re going to prepare for it, we have to prepare for it. Hopefully those four of six plays a game don’t come down to winning the ball game for us. I don’t think it’s going to come down to winning the ball game for them as well. It’s just a part of the offense so we have to study for it. Is it going to give us problems? It gives us problems if we let it give us problems. We’re going to prepare for it just like we prepare for everything else. We’ve seen the wildcat just as much as we’ve seen the four verticals. We continue to prepare and worry about what we do. We can’t worry about what they do. They may not even show Wildcat.” Can you describe the physical difference between days between games when you have to play every week?
“I personally feel a lot fresher because I’ve been coming off injuries. I’ve been banged up for the last two months. For me it was great to get that break. When you’re on a pro football team it really doesn’t matter if you have two weeks off, three weeks off, four days off. You’ve seen us come out and play with three days’ rest and we came out and played great. You’ve seen us come out and play great after a bye week. It doesn’t matter. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is what happens on Sunday and all the stuff that happens before, you can throw that out the door. You can have a terrible week at practice and come out and play great, and you can have a great week at practice and come out and play terrible.”
Do you think there are things you are capable of doing physically because you’ve had this rest?
“Run. Me personally I’ve been hampered for the last couple of months and it just feels so good to get out there and run. I’m running up and down on special teams, I’m running on defense and for me, I’m just happy to be able to run like I used to be. That’s a part of my game, being able to run. So now that I can do that, I’m extremely happy and excited and looking forward to playing Sunday at 100 percent.” RB LaDainian Tomlinson
On the “Electric Glide” video:
“The idea was to get my fans a different side of me that they don’t get to see. A lot of times they get to see the guy on the football field and the real focused type of guy. The side that they don’t see is the fun, dance around, kind of goofy type of person that I am. Only my family and friends get to see that side of me. So the idea was to give the fans a different side of me. And I know that everybody is not going to like it but I just wanted to kind of do something different. It was fun doing it.”
“Well, I hope this is it. (Laughs). No, but he was great, for me. He was what I needed to see a model of how to go about in this league, how to play football, how to prepare to play football, how to take care of your body. I had a guy that I could look at every day and see it. He was that guy for me. Whenever I needed something I could go to him. Obviously, I owe a lot to him because of the work ethic I had coming into the league because I saw him. Playing against him was just like practicing against him. The things he did in practice was the same things he did in the game. I remember the first time we played against him, the Miami game, the Monday night, it was like we were out there during practice. The same stuff he did in the game, he did it in practice. We’d seen it millions of times. So he’s had a great career and he has nothing to be ashamed about. I know he wanted to get a Super Bowl Championship but his career speaks for itself.”
What’s it like for you to go into the playoffs healthy?
“I’m excited about it. It’s been a while since that divisional game when we lost to the Patriots, the last time I was actually healthy in the playoffs. So, I’m excited about it. I get to go out and turn it loose and whatever happens, happens.” The team has won some big games during this win streak. How do these games help the team?
“I think it helps us. I think it definitely helps us because we’ve seen every situation that you could possibly see throughout the course of the game and also preparing for them big games. We’ve got guys that kind of got that ‘Get your hard hat and go to work,’ we’ve got that mindset. We understand what we’re up against. I think our approach is what makes us good, the way we go about doing things. The experience is all good, but our approach to the game is what makes us good.” During the interview with CBS you said the Jets have the formula for winning. What’s the Chargers’ recipe for winning games?
“I think you’ve seen it all year. We win games in different aspects. In different ways we can win games. Obviously everyone knows about the explosive offense, but how about the goal line defenses at times, where our defense has stepped up? How about our special teams when we would return kicks and great field position that our special teams has given us, and the way we would pin people deep and made them drive the field? So we’ve won games in different areas, all aspects. I think you’ve seen the way we win games.” What will be the key in this game?
“I think obviously the key is going to be us not turning it over, giving them a short field. I think we definitely want to make sure we continue just to do the things we’ve been doing and not get out of character, not try to do anything special, just do what we’ve been doing. Obviously, our defense is going to play great, but we want to give them a long field to have to drive the ball.”
Does the last playoff meeting with the Jets sit in your mind at all?
“It’s there because we lost the game. It was a game that was close and they played good defense back then. They’re still playing good defense, so we expect it to be the same type of game, depending on, the weather may be the same kind of weather we had that year. We’re going to have to be ready to play.” After so many good games for this team, are you worried about a bad one? How do you prevent this from happening?
“We’ve just got to focus on what we do, don’t worry about the things that are talked about, but focus on the things that we do well in our game plan and executing our game plan. If we do that we’ll be okay. ” DE Luis Castillo How much better is this defense against the run now than at the start of the season?
“We’re significantly better. It doesn’t always translate in numbers. I think a lot of times it translates to not giving up the big play. There’s a significant difference obviously, because we went through so much turnover. We lost our All-Pro in Jamal Williams early on. We lost a couple of guys through the year and we lost another guy in training camp. If you asked me at the start of training camp, who the guys that we were going to kind of ride with throughout the year, I would have never said the names because most of them weren’t here. You have to give those guys so much credit because it’s so hard to come into this league, come on a team midway through a season, not only pick up a defense but go out on the field and be successful and not make the big mental mistakes that give up the 20 or 30 yard runs. There’s a big change there and part of it is just having that physical mentality to go out there and play knowing the guy next to you isn’t going to make a mistake.” Is going against the league’s number-one rushing team an exciting challenge for you?
“It’s always a challenge. This isn’t the first time this year we’ve had that type of challenge. You look at the teams we’ve played. You can name some teams early on where we didn’t do as good as we needed to. But we’ve played against Chris Johnson and Cedric Benson and (Ray) Rice. We’ve faced the challenges before. We’ve faced big physical offensive lines. This is part of the process. This is part of what you do when you’re in this league. Every time you step out there, there’s a different challenge. This is going to a big one and a lot of it lays on us. You know, the good thing is, we’re three guys up there, we’ve got four excellent linebackers who are going to give us outstanding support and are going to make our jobs a lot easier. Having Shawne Merriman back, sometimes people start thinking about the defensive line and what we do, but he’s such a big part of the run defense. His physical nature and physical presence is only going to make us that much better.”
Can you rattle a rookie quarterback by getting pressure on him early?
“You know you talk about a rookie quarterback, but by this point in the season, he’s going into year two. He’s got sixteen games under his belt and he’s done an outstanding job. He had a tough pass through the middle of the year. They’ve done a great job of building an offense around him, letting that great running attack, and that big strong physical offensive line protect him and move the chains and he’s managed the game extremely well. Not only that, but he’s been able to go into play-action after pounding the ball and make the big plays. When you have a quarterback that can do that, it presents a challenge all its own. It’s going to be incredibly important, not only for us to get pressure, but to stop the run and put the onus on him to beat us.” How do you prepare for the Jets’ physical offensive line?
“The only thing you can do is what you always do and that’s come out here and work, prepare mentally and physically. We had a chance to go in shoulder pads today, which is not usual for us on a Wednesday. But after the week off, I think it was a good change of rhythm for us, getting back to that physical nature. Like I said, we’ve got some new defensive linemen in throughout the course of the year who have been a great help. We’ve got some big bodies and look, we’re pretty confident about our abilities and what we can do. Like I said, it’s not just us, we’ve also got a big, physical group of linebackers and it’s going to be a great challenge and a great game.”
Do you get amped up for a physical game like that?
“You get amped up whenever you play, but obviously if you’re playing Peyton Manning and you know, or Tom Brady, you know you’re going to come off the ball, you’re going to have a great pass rush move, and the ball is still going to be gone and you’re not going to get there, it takes you out of the game a little bit. But when you have a team that’s going to run the ball, I think they ran the ball, what? Thirty-eight times in the last playoff game? It’s a challenge. It’s a challenge that we’re excited about.”
How much did it help to get out here three days last week and kind of maintain an edge?
“Part of it was we did work last week, and obviously you don’t have the physical and kind of the thing that you do going into a regular game, but we got a chance to get better at some things that during the course of the year you move away from. During the year the focus is always who you’re playing, what their scheme is, what new plays are we putting in kind of to stop what they do. But when you get a bye-week, it’s a chance to work on your own mistakes. We got a lot more individual time. We got a chance to work on footwork, hand placement, some of the little things that during the year you cut back on practice time a little bit to keep the body fresh and you move away from that stuff. But it’s such a big help where late in the year you can go back to the basics and kind of refine that a little bit and it gets you ready to go a little bit.”
Both AFC teams won on the road last week. Can you talk about the advantage of playing at home in the playoffs?
“We’ve done it both over the years. We had a huge win here against the Colts last year. We’ve had some playoff wins away as well, but it obviously, to have the ability to be at home, to be able to prepare and know you don’t have to travel. Not only that, but you guys saw how our fans were the last couple of home games, against Cincinnati where they had I think three false starts late in the game, as loud as they’ve been, as loud as they were in the playoff game last year where I think that’s the most animated I’ve ever seen our fans and our crowd. We’re excited about that. You work so hard during the regular season to earn the ability to have that home game. We’re here. Now it’s a matter of taking advantage of that and going and making the fans a little bit more excited, giving them some big plays to cheer about and have a little fun.” Do the flyovers do anything for you as a player?
“We notice because we haven’t had it every home game this year, for whatever the reason, but we notice. And look, as much as it takes to go out there and fight through the injuries and the pain and battle the 16 weeks of the physicality that it takes to be in this league, when you step on that field it’s still tough to get going, it’s still tough to get your body to that place and every little bit helps. Like I said, the fans are going to be a big part of that, but when you have the flyovers, when you have somebody great singing the National Anthem, that stuff gives you goose bumps. It gets you ready to play. It gets you excited. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s part of what gets us going and what we’re used to.”
How does Jamal Williams going out change your schematics?
“You can’t replace a Jamal Williams, one of the best nose tackles I think to play the game. You can’t really duplicate what he does for your defense. We’ve always said throughout the years he’s the core of our defense. Well, he’s not here now. We’ve had a guy in Ian Scott who’s done an amazing job, an outstanding job in terms of handling not only the load of the amount of plays of the physical nature of that position where you have a double team basically every play. But you don’t just have to take the double team. That’s what Jamal did. Jamal had an ability to take a double team, push it backfield, split a double team and make it so you dedicate two guys to him, you free up other guys along the line and you still weren’t sure you were going to block him or at least keep him on the line of scrimmage. You can’t replace him. But like I said, you still have to give so much credit to a guy like Ian Scott, to a guy like Alfonzo Boone as well as Travis Johnson, Vaughn Martin. We’ve had so many new faces trying to replace the job that one guy did. People don’t notice but Jamal was the guy that took 45, 50 plays a game.” How does that affect you on the end?
“Maybe, maybe there’s a back hitting the hole a little bit quicker because Jamal doesn’t have him knocked back three or four yards or he’s not making them cut back. So it puts an emphasis on all of us I think, whether it’s defensive line, outside linebackers, inside linebackers to come down hill and take that double team off the nose tackle now where as before Jamal might have been able to stand both of those guys up and still split it. So it puts extra pressure on all of us but I think we’ve all responded well.” Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan Ron Rivera speaks highly of your family. Do you have much of a personal relationship with him?
“Well, there are guys that you run into and things like that, on the road and stuff, and I have a great deal of respect… He might be just as good a person too as he is a coach, just really a great, great, humble person.”
Do you see your father’s influence in Rivera’s defense?
“Yeah. I see they like to get after it. It looks like they play with a lot of passion, a lot of fire. I’m sure they think highly of Ron because he is a great coach and he does have his guys playing that way. I know he’s going to go into this game talking about, because that’s what he did when we played them when I was in Baltimore and he was in Chicago, about having the best defense on the field this week. So we’re going to find out who’s got the best one. Without question, his guys really care for him and you can see that in the way they play.” How’s that?
“I just think that they play with a great deal of passion, they get to the football and the trademark that he’s always had. They’re always trying to strip the ball out of your hands and things like that.” On the importance of either team maintaining ball-control and avoiding errors:
“They definitely do a great job of protecting the football and I think that’s the winning formula. I think, you look at it, they’re 8-0 when they win the turnover battle. I think we’re 9-0 when we win the turnover battle. Obviously protecting the football is going to be a critical thing for both teams.” How have you been able to be so disruptive and cause those mistakes?
“We have a lot of outstanding players. Our guys have a good grasp on what we’re trying to accomplish defensively. I think a lot of credit goes to our coaches, led by Mike Pettine our defensive coordinator, and we have Bob Sutton, a lot of terrific assistant coaches, Dennis Thurman. Those guys do a great job. They really buy into our system and they’re really starting to understand it. Right now this is the New York Jets defense; this is not the Baltimore Ravens defense, this is not my defense; this is our defense. The New York Jets. There’s ownership; theses guys have ownership in it.”
Did you have any reticence on starting things off with a rookie quarterback?
“Obviously when you got into the league you want to have a guy that’s already proven that he can do it. We had a quarterback competition; we let Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez really compete for the job. We felt that Mark was the guy that came out and gave us the best opportunity to win, regardless of the fact that he is a rookie. In an ideal situation for a coach coming in, you prefer that veteran presence, that veteran quarterback, the proven commodity, but we’re happy with who we have right now, with Mark in place. We have a great football team, a great nucleus of guys. I think offensively we wanted to have our team built on our offensive line, so we got a lot of our resources put there. We’ve got, in my opinion, the best offensive line coach in the league in Bill Callahan, running that group and we have an outstanding line. I always think that if you can run the football and protect the quarterback, you’ve got a chance. And that’s the way we’ve built our offense. So, we might not have the experience at quarterback, but we’ve got experience across that line for sure.” Was there a discernible point where Mark Sanchez won the team over?
“I definitely think in preseason. You could see where the confidence that the team had in him. Obviously he’s a guy with an enormous amount of talent. He can make all the throws, he’s smart, he’s tough, he’s competitive, similar traits to Phillip Rivers. That’s what I wanted, the coach’s kid-type mentality, loves the game, passionate about the game. I think that’s who he is. I think that’s what won them over, more than anything else.”
Three teams in the last two seasons have made the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. Why is this becoming more common?
“I think kids coming out of college now are a little more prepared to the NFL game than they were. I think the passing attacks and things like that, the ability to read coverages is more prevalent now in the college game than it’s ever been. I think that’s what allows it to be more successful. Because you’re exactly right, it used to take two or three years before a quarterback was really ready to play in this game, in this league.” Sanchez explained your coaching style as “blunt-force trauma.” How has he reacted to this approach?
“Well there’s no grey area. Players I think appreciate that. You’re not wishy-washy. You’re just, I’m myself. Now I’m the biggest Mark Sanchez fan of all time. I absolutely love this kid. When he makes a bonehead mistake or something, I’m going to let him know it. Again, I never stop believing in him. It’s just something that we’ve got to get better at, we try to teach him. It’s not a thing that I cuss him and all that kind of stuff, because that’s not it. I want to teach him, and that’s what it is. I think players appreciate that you’re going to be yourself and you’re going to tell them the way it is, what you feel is the way it is. That seems to work for me.”
What do you recall about your job interview at the Chargers a few seasons back? Do you have any regrets?
“No, I’ll tell you what, they made a great hire in Norv Turner, obviously. I was so excited to get the opportunity to interview. I don’t think I was seen in that light as a head coaching candidate until San Diego put me on the map. AJ Smith and Dean Spanos, all those guys, they were just, it was fantastic, what an opportunity for me. I really believe and I thank AJ, cause I think he’s guy that really put me on the map where people started to look at me maybe differently than they had done in the past.”
What’s the Super Bowl parade route again?
“(Laughs). I don’t know, but I sure hope we find out.” Do you think that’s a good thing or bad thing? Your offensive coordinator’s father used to preach something different.
“I think the vision that we have for our football team is we only have one goal, and that’s to win a Super Bowl. Anything less than that is going to be a disappointment for us. That’s just how we go into it. It’s not a slight on who we play or anything else. It’s a belief that we have from top to bottom in our organization that this is why we’re here. We’ve built some of the best facilities in the entire league to win a championship not to just be average. That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re going to go in… we know we’re playing the San Diego Chargers, the hottest team in the league, they’re coming off of 11 straight wins, playing at San Diego. I don’t know what the experts say, we’re definitely underdogs, stuff like that. Yet, we’re going to go into that game and every game that we play, expecting to win. That’s just the approach we take. We have a great deal of respect for San Diego. This is one of the elite teams that I’ve seen on tape, but that doesn’t mean that I’m coming in there not expecting a win because we are.” There has been a lot of attention on your corners. Do Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd pose a new challenge level?
“Well, they’re both big, explosive, talented guys, that’s for sure. Darrelle Revis is the guy that shut down every body in this league, that has to offer, and he’ll do the same again this week I believe, whoever he’s matched up against. That’s no slight to anybody. That’s just the way it’s been this season. He has had an unbelievable year. He accepts the challenge down after down. Now, is he going to give up a completion and all that? Of course. But, he’s going to approach it like he’s going down there to get his job done and we can do things with him that probably the rest of the league can’t do, don’t even think about doing with their top corners. It’s unfortunate he never won the Defensive Player of the Year because I thought he was definitely a guy that earned that.” What is it about the way he plays his position?
“It’s just, you know, it’s all business. The thing that gets me is the courage he has. Most guys you’re like, ‘Okay, you’re going to play, let’s see, Andre Johnson.’ Now, that’s a big receiver. That’s a big, talented receiver, probably the best in the league when you get down to it. Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, all that stuff, and this young man never flinches, not one bit. His response is if it’s good for the team then it’s good for him and I think that’s what makes him a special guy.” How much of the 46 still exists in what you do today?
“I think the last couple weeks you’ve seen us play a bunch of it. So, it depends on each week, we’ll play, it can go from five percent of your call to 40 percent, 30 percent. That’s the great thing about it. The thing bothers your rules. It’s not an odd defense, it’s not an even defense, it kind of messes with your rules. So it’s something that I always like to have going into every game plan and I know Ron Rivera will use some forms of the 46 as well.” We have little league tryouts here this weekend, do you want to drop the knucklehead by for some sliding practice?
“Ah, shoot, we’re okay. We just use the best. We went to (New York Yankees Manager, Joe) Girarde, world champions. The great thing is, he’s our knucklehead and I’m awful proud of him.” On Ron Rivera’s achievements with the Chargers defense:
“I think he’s done a great job. Like I said before, I think he’s one of the top coaches in this league. He gets his players to play and I think that’s the number one thing is, what you see on tape is what your players think of you. Obviously they think a great deal of Ron. They’re passionate, they fly around the football, and they’re excited to play and that’s a tribute to Ron.” Have you had a chance to speak with Buddy (Ryan) about what he sees in this team?
“He thinks that obviously we’re playing really well right now. He’s excited. He thinks that our quarterback is getting better each week. He thinks that we can be special. I agree with him.” Jets QB Mark Sanchez Have you ever played at Qualcomm before?
“No sir.” Did you ever get down here to watch Chargers games as a youth?
“I went to a Charger game last year. It was the playoff game against the Colts.”
Was that your first taste of a playoff game?
“Yes. It was awesome. Their fans are great and get after it and cheer pretty loud. They beat a good Indianapolis team. That’s the first game I saw them play and I know that they can play well, especially when it’s a playoff atmosphere.” Now a year later you’re bringing your team into Qualcomm. Pretty remarkable isn’t it?
“It seems like just a few days ago that I went to that game and it’s already been an entire year, so it’s a pretty special opportunity and we want to go in there and play our best.” What do see on film about the Chargers?
“A very tough defense that gives quarterbacks fits. They make it tough on passers. They are great zone droppers and they match up really well against a lot of teams. Their cornerbacks (Antonio) Cromartie and (Quentin) Jammer are unbelievable. I got a chance to meet Shaun Phillips last year when I was going through the whole draft process and he’s been playing well all year. Then obviously Shawne Merriman, who’s an explosive guy who makes plays that really change the course of the game. It’s a unit that we really need to prepare for and play well against and bring our best. It will be fun to see Kevin Ellison out there playing well, as a USC alum and a former teammate.” Kevin Ellison said yesterday that he used to wear you out in practice. Can you confirm or deny that?
“Come on. He’s just trying to get bulletin board material out of me. He’s an awesome player and so competitive which makes it so fun to play against a guy like Kevin. He’s someone you really want to compete against whether it’s shooting hoops, or playing against him on the football field in the playoffs, or flipping a coin. This guy wants to win. It’s going to be a great matchup for us and to see how well he’s doing as a rookie is awesome. You almost knew it was going to happen by just the way he played and his work ethic. He deserves it. It’s going to be very fun to see him before the game. But once the whistle blows, it’s time to get down to business.” What part of playing for Rex Ryan is different than playing for anyone else?
“He’s pretty unique. He definitely speaks his mind and doesn’t hide anything by sweeping it under the rug. He tells you exactly what he’s thinking and that’s his way of communicating. It’s really blunt force trauma and that’s the way he does it and we’ve all bought in and understand where he’s coming from and we love to play for him. It’s been fun and a great experience to grow with him and watch our relationship develop. It’s going to be fun to play for him for a long time hopefully.” Do you ever catch yourself thinking “Oh no what’s he saying now?”
“No. He’s just so truthful and if anything, he doesn’t hide anything at all. It’s pretty funny sometimes. He just wants to make sure I’m having fun and playing smart and respecting the
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