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Monday Locker Room Interviews

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Transcripts of selected interviews with players in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room Monday afternoon:

TE Dustin Keller

On what he can take away from this season…

I think we had a very solid season, especially the way we bounced back towards the end of the year. Obviously, the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl, we came two wins short of that. There are a lot of good things we did this year and we should be happy about it, but not satisfied.

On what the team has proven…

We’ve proven that we are a tough team to come in the future. A lot of teams aren’t going to want to play us, the way we play defense, the way we run the ball and Mark [Sanchez] just came alive at the end of the season. We’re definitely going to be a team to watch out for next year.

On the fans…

The fans were great and traveled with us, especially to Indianapolis. There were Jets chants and it was amazing. The type of support they gave us throughout the playoffs was motivating for us.

On Mark Sanchez finishing the season strong…

It was something that was bound to happen sooner or later. We’re lucky enough to get our chemistry going in the postseason. There’s no better time than that.

CB Darrelle Revis

On his thoughts today…

The emotions are mixed. The season didn’t go how we wanted it to go. We wanted to get to the Super Bowl. Guys are talking today and the coaches are talking today about the year, what we accomplished and what we need to do to improve to get to the Super Bowl.

On how long the sting of the loss lasts…

It’s going to hang on until we get back there and actually win it. That’s the thing, games like this stick in your mind and it hurts bad. You just have to improve and work harder.

On if he can appreciate the accomplishments of the season…

Yeah, they’re great. We had a great run. When people didn’t believe we could do it, we made a way. The one thing about this team, guys didn’t point the finger. Mark Sanchez had an up-and-down year, but towards the end he managed to prevail in ways that we haven’t seen in the regular season. The one thing that we want to do is just build off the success that we were having the last couple of games.

On Coach Ryan today…

He’s great. You want to play for a guy like him. I know he gets crazy sometimes with the media, but that’s just his personality and we like it. We appreciate it.

C Nick Mangold

On what he’ll remember about this team 10 years from now…

Hopefully, I’m still kicking in 10 years. I think it’s the people in this locker room. This is a great bunch of guys who care about each other and play for each other. I think that will last with me forever.

On what this season means for the Jets moving forward…

I think it’s a good start. Rex [Ryan] came in here and laid down the law and said this is how things are going to be. We took it to heart and ran with it. I think we were able to break away from the pain a little bit and see the good things we accomplished. I think it’s a good base.

On not being underdogs next season…

It’ll probably depend on how things go this offseason and where we’re at. Favorites or underdogs, you never really think about it too much, or at least I don’t. You go out there and you play the same way no matter how people are talking about you.

WR Jerricho Cotchery

On his thoughts right now…

The thought of the loss is the thing that is controlling my mind right now. I’m very disappointed in the outcome of yesterday, but you have to put a lot of things in perspective. We had a heck of a year. We battled through a lot of adversity this year. We still hung in there and we were able to get to the AFC Championship. We ran into a great team.

On when the sting of the loss goes away…

It takes a while for me. It lingers for a while, but I will say that today’s meeting was a lot better than last year. To come from that point to the point that we’re at right now, things are looking good for the New York Jets. I’m glad that I’m a New York Jet right now. I’m happy for the guys in this locker room and the way that we hung in there with each other, didn’t point any fingers and continued to battle through the year. I think everyone in this locker room should be proud of themselves.

On the future of the franchise…

We have a lot to build on. The thing that is most encouraging is [Mark] Sanchez. He played a very good game yesterday. That was a big-time game. To play in the AFC Championship as a rookie quarterback, he rose to the challenge. He rose to the occasion and he made a lot of plays for us yesterday. The guy on the other side [Peyton Manning], he’s been doing it for a while now at a high level. He got into a zone that we see on TV, but we got a chance to see it in person yesterday.

QB Mark Sanchez

On the season…

It stings, it hurts. You lose a tough game like that and make it as far as we did, it’s frustrating. You want to win. Everyone in this locker room did. Once you get past that part, which I don’t know how long that’s going to take, it’s important for me to understand, as a rookie, that it was pretty special. As a team — unbelievable. At one point we were 4-6, not a chance. We were kicked to the curb, not a chance. To make it as far as we did, the resilience in this locker room, the way we worked, the way we rallied around Rex [Ryan], that was pretty special.

On another note, the way Rex came in and just really changed the culture of this franchise in one year, that’s big time. It is something we all bought in to, we believed in him and the best thing he said, maybe the entire year, was today, “It’s just the beginning. Wear your Jets stuff with pride, there is nothing to be ashamed about. It’s been an awesome year, we came a little bit short.” That stuff happens, so we will rally and bounce back.

On if what the team accomplished this year overshadows the bitterness of the loss…

I don’t know about that. You go back and fourth, depending on what mood you’re in. The first and the third thought is, “Dang it. This is hard. That’s tough.” Right in between there, though, we’ve got a shot. This franchise has a shot. With Rex, we have a shot.

On what Coach Ryan has done to changed the culture of the Jets…

I just felt like his attitude and when he said, “Be proud to be a Jet.” We want to be a football team that is tough to play. “Oh man, we have to go to New York to play the Jets, not again.” That’s the mentality Rex wants. We’re starting to get there. That’s the mentality, being tough. A tough team, an all-weather offense, a defense that just hassles the quarterback, gets turnovers, wins the field position battle and a special teams that can hurt you. I think we’re starting to get there.

RB/KR LEON WASHINGTON

On his plans for the next couple of months…

I’ll be rehabbing with [Kris] Jenkins, Aundrae Allison. All the guys that are not healthy have to stay here and rehab.

On if he expects to be 100 percent by next season…

I’m very optimistic. That’s my goal. I expect to be 100 percent by the time the season rolls around.

On the team’s performance down the stretch…

They played hard, with determination, tough and physical. I saw a team that nobody wanted to play. That has to be extremely encouraging especially for guys who missed half of the season. Like I told most of the guys today, “I’m going to work my tail off to get back out there and help you guys.” It’s going to be fun around here. Hopefully, we can start something that can continue this type of trend, be a team that’s talked about every year getting to the Super Bowl.

On if he saw times where the Jets could have used him…

Not only yesterday but throughout the games that I’ve missed. You lose me or Kris Jenkins and you talk about guys that stepped up: Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones. Guys stepped up and made plays. That brings depth to your team when you’ve got two of your best players not there.

QB Kellen Clemens

On the disappointment of the game…

It was tough. It was a year that was full of ups and downs. We overcame a lot of adversity. When we were 4-6 people started giving up on us. Even at 7-7 in Week 15 people were giving up on us. It’s disappointing to come as far as we did and come so close to making it to the big game. At the same time, we’re not hanging our heads in the least bit. We’re a good football team, we’re going to be an even better football team next year.

On the season…

Doing what we did this year with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback, lost two of our best players in Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington, we just overcame a lot of adversity. We’ll be healthy to start out next year.

On if he wants to return to the Jets next year…

I’m not at the point yet where I’m ready to say I’m a career backup, that’s all I want to do. I believe I have the ability to play and play well. We’ll see. There’s a lot of stuff that is really out of my control now. I believe that the Jets like me and want to keep me on here, which is certainly not a bad option. I believe in this franchise and this organization. I think they’re going to win a lot of games. It’s not the end of the world if I’m here next year, but we’ll see. It’s all going to play out in the next few months. I’m excited to see what the future holds.

K Jay Feely

On the season…

I’m very proud of this team. I’ve never been on a team where I enjoyed it more, where I enjoyed my teammates and coaches. I think we accomplished a lot and established our identity, who we were. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish the job, but I think it was a lot to be proud of. We’ve established a foundation that’s going to carry forward into the years to come. You look at our team and all the young talent we have. More than anything, it’s a team that’s very tight. I think that bodes well for the future.

On the one element this team needs to have for next year…

Just maturation. We had a rookie quarterback, rookie head coach and a new defensive system installed. You think about where we’ll be next year. We’ll be light years ahead of where we started this year. That’s awesome. For the Jets fans and the fan base, that’s a great place to be.

On if this is a new era for the Jets and their fans…

I absolutely think so. I think they have a lot to be hopeful about. You look at this team and there is a great foundation. There is an incredible amount of talent. Everybody likes each other. That’s a recipe for success.

T D’BRICKASHAW FERGUSON

On their successful season…

Obviously, it was very disappointing that we couldn’t continue on in the big game given that we were just one game away. We just talked to Rex [Ryan] and he really just highlighted some of the things that we did well. How we became a team that nobody wanted to play, tough offense, all-weather offense and great defense. We did a lot of great things. We really reached a lot of pinnacles, but we can take pride in that. I think we’re happy, but it’s a bittersweet day today.

On the emotions of the team after their final meeting…

You get a chance to really talk to a couple of your coaches and say, “Hey, great job this year.” I think everybody is happy with the type of staff we have, the type of players that were in the locker room. It was just unfortunate that we couldn’t go all the way. These opportunities sometimes are rare. It was my first AFC Championship game and hopefully it won’t be the last.

On how much better the offense will be next year…

I don’t think there is a limit to the level we can attain, I just think it’s a thing where we’re going to analyze what we did well throughout the whole season, look at the things we’ve done poorly and just continue to work. One of the benefits you have, we had so many of the same guys in the locker room and so many of the same coaches. You can utilize experience and not so much start over. You can build on what you’ve already done.

RB Shonn Greene

On his injury Sunday…

I just took a shot to the ribs.

On the tone of the team meeting…

Just to send everybody off on a good note. Coach let everybody know that we had a great season and not to hang our heads.

On what Coach Ryan wants to see from him next year…

It’s pretty much what he wants from everybody. Everybody needs to get better. Everybody needs to do the little things that they can do to get better and we can get better as a whole.

DT Sione Pouha

On the tone of the team meeting…

Obviously, the players, to get so close and we knew it was at the doorstep, felt [that] we’re still stuck in yesterday. Coach had us understand where we are now and how proud of us he was. From his view, he was proud of us. He told us to continue to do what we’ve got to do, get better in the offseason and come back. Maybe the extra things we do in the offseason will be that edge that we need for next year. This opportunity comes few and far between. I think that’s what kind of gets us stuck in yesterday still.

On the defense and losing in the AFC Championship…

It keeps you hungry. When you don’t lift up the Lombardi Trophy at the end, you’re always hungry whether you make it into the playoffs, Wild Card or a situation like us where you make it to the Championship game and fall short. You always stay hungry when you don’t have that trophy in your hand in any way, shape or form.

On goals for next season…

I’m not a visionary man for the whole team, but I know the vision that I have for myself, to come in and understand the defense a little bit better even though we have a pretty good grasp on it, but making it more second nature, a habit just like eating, make it something more of a part of you. With our feet already trenched into the defensive scheme and the coaches and our relationships, it has no way to go but up.

T Damien Woody

On today’s team meeting…

Everybody’s still disappointed in the outcome. We expected to beat them for the Super Bowl. We set the groundwork for what we were trying to accomplish, being the most physical team in the league. Everything we set out to do as far as our identity, we did that this year. Even though we’re not where we want to be at, we still have a lot of things to be proud of. That was the message that was relayed by the coaching staff.

On if getting so close to the Super Bowl makes the team proud of what they’ve accomplished or gives them more spirit to make it to the Super Bowl next year…

[It gives us] more spirit. We’re not satisfied. We understand that we did a lot of good things, but by no means are we satisfied with the outcome of the season. The biggest thing is for guys to just get away right now. This is a tough loss to deal with, so just get away and get refocused and recharge, so when you come back in April you’re ready to go. We’ve got a lot of good pieces coming back and our coaching staff is intact. While some other teams are a little in flux, we’re going to be consistent. That gives us one leg up moving forward.

On Mark Sanchez…

He played a heck of a game yesterday. He really showed a lot of people out there what the future holds for this guy. He’s only going to get better. That’s really encouraging moving forward knowing you have guys like Mark and Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller. He’ll that opportunity to work with those skill guys in the offseason which he didn’t last year. Those are the really encouraging things. I think the most important thing is for everyone to get away and clear their minds.

S Jim Leonhard

On if the loss stings less today…

It doesn’t really feel any better at this point. It’s frustrating still, knowing you were this close. You get this far in the playoffs and you know anything can happen. To be one step short of a Super Bowl, it hurts. It’ll hurt until that game is over. I’ll watch that game and it’ll be frustrating. I’m definitely not throwing a Super Bowl party. We played well. We had a good season. We set the foundation of the team that we want to be. We put that out there to the rest of the league of who the New York Jets are and who they’re going to be from this point forward. We can’t be disappointed in that. You lose that game and you’re obviously not satisfied with what you’ve done this year.

On what he knew about the culture of the Jets before he came here…

I knew a little bit. I learned the history and how the fans seem like they are waiting for disappointment. It’s changing. I think that was the first thing Rex [Ryan] tried to get out there to the fans that this will not be the Same Old Jets. I think we laid that foundation. The fans should have that confidence just like we do now that it’s not the Same Old Jets. We’re moving forward and we’re going to be a contender year-in and year-out. That’s our goal. Hopefully, the fans realize that because the players in this organization realize that things are changing.

On what it will take for the team to take the next step to the Super Bowl…

Obviously, we need to get better. There are great teams and Indianapolis is one of them. You look at the teams that continuously get to this level and what they’re made of and who they are and you have to learn from them. Now, we have that experience. Maybe this team needed this experience this year in order to take that step. It’s hard to say, but I know the guys in this room and everything they’re made of. We’re hungry and we want to have success. We will do everything we can as a team and individually to take that next step. It’s hard. It’s not something you can point your finger at and say this is what we’re missing. It’s definitely not easy that way, but we’re not afraid to work. No one in this organization is afraid of work and we’re willing to put that in.

S Kerry Rhodes

On the ups and downs of the season…

I think up and down for the whole team. We started off good, had a lull in the middle there and at the end turned it on. It was just one of those things where, as an NFL player, you go through these type of things and as a team you do. You just try to bounce back and do a good job.

On what he’ll take from this year into next season…

You never know what happens next year, so that’s that. At the end of this year we know we made a great run. It’s not where we wanted to be. We thought we could have gotten to the pinnacle and that’s the Championship and have a chance to win it there, but we didn’t. The Colts were the better team yesterday. We grew as a team and made a lot of strides.

On Coach Ryan always believing in the team…

Whenever you have a guy believe in you, it’s a great thing. We believed in him as the season went on. A lot of the things he said came to fruition, even though we didn’t meet the President. We got pretty close. We believed in him and he believed in us, which is a good thing.

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