Mark Sanchez Interview Transcript 1/4/11

On Tuesday New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez addressed the media.  Here is the transcript courtesy of the Jets.

On how excited he is to go back and play Indianapolis again…

“We’re thrilled at the opportunity that we’ve allowed ourselves this year, to make it to the postseason, and it’s going to be another fight. It’s a great team. I think we match-up well against them, but it’s going to take our best effort. They’re one of the best teams around. They always are. It’s going to be a good challenge for us and we’ll be ready for it.”

On how much last year’s AFC Championship game will help him going into this game…

“It helps, just knowing the environment (with) the two games from last year. That kind of experience never hurts. It’s good that we’re familiar with the place. We need to be sharp, mistake-free and it’s going to take a great effort from our entire team, so we’re excited about that.”

On whether he has any concerns about his shoulder…

“No, (I am) feeling good. (I will) be ready for Saturday.”

On how much higher his confidence level is going into the playoffs this year compared to last year…

“I think (it is higher) for the entire team. I’m feeling better towards the tail end of my second year. I feel light years ahead of where I was last year, just mentally, knowing the schedule, understanding what a playoff game feels like, anticipating that kind of energy that you get from their crowd and how you need to be loud at the line of scrimmage. Little things that I had to experience first to understand, now I just feel a lot better (about). It’s a great opportunity (for) us and I’ll have a better feel for it.”

On whether the shoulder affects how he throws…

“No, it’s not really affecting much. We’re just being smart about it, taking the right routes, giving the right throws and approaching it the same way we have the last couple of weeks, but it felt good today.”

On how the playoff game will be different from the last game where he did not attempt a pass…

“I’m just trying to bounce back after getting pulled last week for (Mark) Brunell (laughter). Coach (Ryan) has been talking about it for a while and then he benched me last week, so I’m a little upset (joking).”

On the overall attitude of the team entering this week’s game…

“We’re focused. I really feel that. Nobody’s had to say too much. Guys understand. You look at guys like Jason Taylor and LaDainian (Tomlinson), guys who came here for this specific reason. If that doesn’t get you excited to play for other guys on your team and to play for yourself and to play for Rex, I don’t know what does. This is a huge opportunity for us and we don’t want our season to end. We’re in this thing. Hopefully, we can get on a four-game win streak and take it right into Super Bowl Sunday, but it started today. We had a great start for our first day of practice and we’re ready to go. Guys are excited.”

On what it means facing Indianapolis again…

“It’s a great matchup for us. It really is. We beat them once last year, they beat us when it really counted and that’s hard. That’s a tough feeling, going home after a playoff game, (getting) all the way to the AFC Championship game, having the lead at halftime and then coming up short. This is a different team, very similar on their defense. Guys fly around. They do a great job, but it’s a good matchup for us, so we’re excited.”

On how much he participated in practice today…

“(It was) the same thing I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. If you don’t take every rep, you’re supposed to be, technically, limited. I got probably, almost all the throws. I felt good with the plan, (I was) accurate and I threw the ball well.”

On whether he did more today than he had done on the first practice day the last couple of weeks…

“Absolutely.”

On Coach Ryan joking about injuring his shoulder on purpose…

“I just think he knows that I’m in a good place right now. I think our offense is (as well). We’re just in a good place. I’m getting the ball out of my hand quickly. I am making pretty good decisions with the football when it’s in my hands. I’m stepping up in the pocket well, two hands on the ball (and) little things that we’ve worked on and overworked last week, just the fundamentals. It’s all starting to come together for our offense. We’re kind of hitting things in stride and that’s what you want going into the playoffs. I think that’s what (Coach Ryan) means. It’s just like if you’re sick and you play a really good game, everybody’s going to say, “Well, you might as well be sick every week.” It’s just the way it goes.”

On whether he feels like he is better equipped with more offensive weapons this time against Indianapolis…

“I think our team is definitely better. A lot of that has come from Shonn Greene having another year under his belt, me having another year under my belt, our offensive line almost all back, knowing what it’s like playing there and then, the addition of Santonio (Holmes), giving J-Co (Jerricho Cotchery) a chance to free himself up in the slot, Braylon (Edwards), another big target outside and then Dustin (Keller) having a great year. I definitely think we’re a better team.”

On why he thinks he plays better in big games…

“I don’t know. It’s just these games are the most important. These count the most. I have no idea. You just get excited for these big ones and you need to play well. You know there’s a lot riding on it.”

On whether last year’s postseason success gives him added confidence going in this year…

“Absolutely, just (from) knowing what these games feel like because it’s a different feel. You can’t really describe it. It’s just bigger. It’s faster. You can feel the intensity. You just feel what’s riding on the game and you don’t want your season to be over. You want to play again and we want to play again next week. It definitely helps. I don’t know how to describe it. Once you played a playoff game, you know what it’s like. Just like starting your first game, you kind of get the jitters out. We’ve done it before. We’ve been in Indianapolis’ stadium before, so we’re ready for the challenge.”

On whether he thinks he is calmer now…

“I think so. I think, just once you get that experience, it’s just one other situation you’ve done. We’re definitely in a good place as an offense. We know how to handle it. Schotty (Coach Brian Schottenheimer) knows how to handle it, so it’ll be a good challenge.”

On how his chemistry with Braylon Edwards has evolved this season…

“I feel good with all of the guys. I don’t think the game plan has changed much, I just feel like he (Edwards) is that guy in the progression that ended up getting the ball in the last couple of weeks. It goes in waves. J-Co (Jerricho Cotchery) will catch a bunch of balls three games in-a-row and then it’s Tone’s (Santonio Holmes) turn and then it’s Braylon’s and Dustin’s (Keller). They all know who’s hot. I’ll feel who’s hot and you want to feed them the ball, but nothing really has changed, trying to get him the ball or doing anything different.”

On the Indianapolis pass rush…

“It’s the entire unit. Those guys (Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis), they’re the heart and soul of that defense. They fly off the edge (and) they stop the run well. They’re not just pass rushers. These guys can slow down your running attack and it’s a solid group. They don’t do a whole lot, but what they do is they try and confuse the quarterback (with) pre-snap looks and then they fly around the ball. They’re not the biggest, size-wise and stature, but they play very hard. (They are) tough, smart guys, so it’s a big-time matchup for us.”

On whether his admiration grew for Peyton Manning after seeing his performance in the second half of last year’s AFC Championship…

“I’ve always thought he was one of the best, so I don’t (know) if anything changed. It just affirms what you already think and you already know. He’s a great player. These matchups, it will be a handful for our defense, so they’re excited about that challenge.”

On whether he thinks of this game as an opportunity to start building a legacy…

“I feel like this game is a lot bigger than me. It’s for our team and we’re just trying to win another playoff game for our team, so I haven’t thought about it that way at all.”

On whether he has talked to veterans about how fortunate he has been to have two playoff appearances in his first two seasons…

“Absolutely, Rex talked to JT (Jason Taylor) and he just said, “When’s the last time you won a playoff game?” He (Taylor) said, “Nine years ago,” so it just tells you how special this opportunity is, how there’s nothing more important in your life right now than what’s going on in this building. That’s the way you need to approach it, when you’re eating, when you’re sleeping, just thinking about the game, going through the calls in your head. It’s another good opportunity for us, so we’ll make the most of it.”

On if he slept well before his first playoff game last year…

“Pretty well.”

On whether he feels he could beat Peyton Manning in a shootout if he needed to with his shoulder injury…

“I better be able to (laughing). I’ll feel good. We’re inside. (The shoulder) will be good.”

On whether his shoulder could handle a shootout…

“I’ll be ready to play.”

On if the AFC Championship feels like it was just yesterday…

“Your rookie year, is the longest year of your life. This year, it’s like I woke up this morning and yesterday we were in Cortland. Now, we’re already (at the playoffs). It’s flown by so fast. (Mark) Brunell laughs about forgetting plays. He’ll say, “Dude, just wait until you get to be my age, you’ll forget an entire season.” It flew by. It really did. We’re just trying to extend it. Now it’s seeing how many more games and how many more practices we can have and hopefully we get to our ultimate goal.”

On how excited he was at the 2009 AFC Championship…

“I was fired up. It will be the same for Saturday. I don’t know what it is, it’s just everybody has that understanding. It’s win or go home. I don’t want to watch any game next week, I want to be playing in them.”

On the offensive line over the past few weeks and what is needed from them on Saturday…

“The offensive production over the past three weeks has been almost the best all year. It starts with them up front. They’re really doing a good job on the running game. They pass block and give me plenty of time. For a guy like Wayne Hunter to step up the way he has and we’ll see what happens with Damien Woody. Both of those guys are capable. We have three tackles to play against two really good defensive ends. That’s reassuring. The way the backs have run with Shonn Greene really coming on. They have really been peaking at the right time and we’ll need that. We just have to keep riding those guys up front because they do a great job for us.”

On if he gets excited to play in quarterback-duels…

“Sure. It’s fun. Your job is to go out and score every time you get the ball whether it’s a field goal or a touchdown. It was nice to get into that kind of rhythm on offense whether the other team is scoring or not. Just for us to focus on our offense against their defense. You don’t really watch them too much. As long as we’re scoring, we’re happy.”

On if the scheme the last few weeks has been tailored to the offenses strengths…

“We try to stay balanced. That’s been the key all year. When we’re balanced, we play our best. The offensive line has really picked up their play. They’ve done a great job all year. It’s just really been highlighted during the last couple of weeks. We’re in a good spot. Hopefully, we’ll do well.”

On whether Dustin Keller will have a big role this week…

“It’s any of those guys. It could be Dustin, it could be LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) or Braylon. Dustin always does a great job and demands respect when he’s running down the field. Nothing different than any other week. There’s no one match up that looks like we could just exploit something against a defense like this. They’re so solid. They do such a good job in the back end that you have to be patient, spread it around and not just focus on one guy or they’ll make you pay.”

On the reason the offense has been getting the ball off quickly…

“I feel comfortable. Your percentages obviously go up the shorter you throw the ball. We’ve had timely shots, good throws and even better catches down the field when we really needed them. It’s been a matter of me getting through my reads the way I should, fast and efficient. Getting rid of the ball is just so much easier on the guys up front. It keeps their defense off balanced. I think it’s been that our offense is really in a grove right now so we’re going to try to keep riding that.”

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