Pete Kendall, Jets Guard/playing Center
(On the difficulty of a losing season)
PK: What's been hard about it? Certainly the expectations were much higher than this and I think that's what made us -- we're 3-11 and that's no picnic to begin with -- but when expectations were for us to be knocking on the door for a playoff spot and maybe a division championship, it makes it that much tougher.
(On the Patriots defensive linemen)
PK: That's an impressive group. It's funny, the tone of the question when we came back here a couple of weeks ago, people were asking about the Patriots defensive line and what was the matter with the Patriots defensive line. They've gone and shown in the last few weeks that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Patriots defensive line. That's probably the strength of their team right now besides number 12. They start three first-rounders on their defensive line and they've all proven to live up to or exceed expectations.
(On Rosevelt Colvin)
PK: He's been very dynamic the last three to four weeks. Their whole defense changed philosophy, I think, starting with our game. They were a contented team to rush three or four and play coverage behind and basically try to limit a quarterback's options by having a lot of guys playing behind the defensive line, but now they seem to be turning those guys loose and bringing some pressure. Specifically they've brought some pressure with Colvin coming back inside and blitzing inside. Usually he's enough of a handful coming off the edge, but they moved him around in our game a little bit and he was very successful with that. We'll have to know where he is and we'll have to come up with an answer for that. Certainly anything you have trouble with in the first game, they'll test us to make sure we can pick it up in the second game. Certainly they'll have something else for us, too.
(On if what the Patriots were doing on defense came as a surprise)
PK: I don't think anyone was shocked. In our breakdown going into the game, the Patriots had played more of a... I guess you could characterize it as a "bend but don't break" defense. They were not pressuring very much on third down -- really not pressuring much on any down and distance -- again they were content to stay back. And then starting with our game that's gone 180 degrees in the other direction. They're flying around defensively. They're attacking. They're blitzing. Pressuring the quarterback. You can see the results, when they lean on that front, how good they can be.
(On how difficult it' sbeen for QB Brooks Bollinger)
PK: It's a very difficult spot. Brooks was a guy who didn't get a lot of reps as the system was being installed. He did benefit a little bit in the Spring in that he was taking second team reps and probably got some more reps in training camp than he would have but he was probably the third quarterback. Once the season started, of course the third team quarterback gets practically zero reps with the first team offense, so his exposure to the system -although he had some in the training camp and the preseason-had been limited into the regular season and then all of a sudden he gets thrown into that role and that was a tough spot for him. And particularly because we were hit with injuries everywhere else too, so it wasn't like we were the same offense with the same group of players healthy and he was the only new part.
(On the similarities between himself and Russ Hochstein)
PK: I've seen Russ on film and he seems to have made the transition very well. ... I'm not too familiar with his history, but I know that he had to go in and play guard in the Super Bowl a year or two years ago and he's been in that rotation for them at guard over the last couple of years. He's stepped in and he's done a nice job. Because we play in the same division, I've seen a lot of the Patriots offense on film, probably seen as much of the Patriots offense on film as I have their defense, and he does a very nice job in there. He's filled in quite well.
(On the hardest thing about switching from guard to center )
PK: It's getting easier for me now. I'm starting to see the defenses better again. Just changing the vantage point, the viewpoint from guard to center, that took a little bit of getting used to again. Also having to make all of the calls, setting the front and setting the protections. That is something that I could handle a little bit as a guard -I was asked maybe to help on the side-but as a center I have to basically handle it for both sides. I feel like I'm settling into it now. I feel more comfortable playing the position and I also feel more comfortable in the system.
(On playing with nothing to play for)
PK: I don't think that's been a problem for us. To be honest with you, we're playing so many guys now, in fact quite a few who weren't even on the roster, say, Thanksgiving or Halloween... those guys have a lot of enthusiasm to go and play. For more than just a couple of guys, this is the chance they've been waiting perhaps their entire life for, so they approach the game and they approach the week of practice like that. The guys who have been hurt on our team seem to be the older guys, the veteran guys, the guys that we thought were going to be the core, the nucleus of our team, and so you lose obviously a lot of experience and talent with that, but the guys who have stepped in to replace them have stepped in with enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and to practice and to try and do the things that they need to do so that they can become veterans in this league.
(On if it's strange not to have Curtis Martin playing)
PK: It is strange; perhaps not as strange for me as it is for guys who have been with the Jets longer. But when I thought about the Jets as an outsider, when I think about the Jets now, Curtis is probably the first guy I think of. He sort of is Mr. Jet and to not have him with us does seem strange.
(On RB Cedric Houston)
PK: Cedric is a young guy who is looking to prove himself as a feature back in this league. He is one of the guys I was referring to when you were talking about how do we continue to approach the game. Cedric has a great opportunity on his hands and he's trying to grab the bull by the horns right now. He's running the ball hard. He's making yards after contact for us. I think he understands that this is his chance to be a feature back in this league, if not for the Jets than maybe for somebody else. I think that he has done a nice job.
(On whether the offseason will help the Jets get back some players to help them contend for the division)
PK: It's an interesting question, because there seems to be a ton of speculation in the New York market about what exactly they're going to do with our offense. Depending on who you read or who you listen to, it's everything from tearing it apart and starting over offensively to a minor tweak or two. So I think you always have to feel good about your team and it's chances with an offseason where everybody gets healthy. I think we have a chance. Let's be honest though, taking the Patriots down is not something that's going to be easily done. They have a lot of good football players over there still. You can tell that when they get healthy and they get on a roll, they're as tough as anybody to beat in this league. But certainly our chances would be better with another year in this system and bringing back as many of the guys that the front office feels will help. We still have some guys who have the ability to contribute next year with some experience and some understanding of what it's going to take and, like I said, having another year in the offensive system. every year is a new year and certainly I would welcome the opportunity.
(On the Patriots chances against against the Colts considing the injury troibles they've had)
PK: I think it would be hard to discount those guys against anybody. The thing that the Patriots have done that is so remarkable to me and to my peers is that they continue to win games regardless of who's in there. Last year they went out to Pittsburgh and beat a very good Pittsburgh team and they were missing perhaps their best defensive lineman and Ty Law, who was probably their best cornerback if not defensive back overall. So you always have to say the Patriots have a chance in any game that they play. Although Indianapolis on paper may look like the stronger team this year, that's not where the game is played. With the right amount of momentum, and if the Patriots were able to take an early lead in that game, I can see how that front seven might be able to cause a lot of problems for Indianapolis.
(On Vince Wilfork's improved play)
PK: I expected Vince to play about the way that he played, and I thought he played a very good game against us. Vince is still a bit of a younger guy and he's still learning his way, but you can see that he continues to get better. And when he tries to stay within their scheme and two-gap he does a very good job of that. I think earlier in the year when he would try to pick a gap, sometimes he would be right and sometimes he would be wrong, and when he was wrong it wasn't always pretty. But of late he seems to be playing much more disciplined and much more effectively.
(On what makes Richard Seymour a special player)
PK: He is a special player. Richard does everything well. He plays the run very well. He rushes the passer very well. You have to play attention to where he is. If I'm the center and I'm uncovered I'm going to know where Richard is and figure that if I get a chance to peek somewhere I'm going to have to peek over at him first, which frees up Jarvis [Green] when he rushes inside. It makes it hard to slide out to the ends, which makes Willie [McGinest] and Rosevelt [Colvin] that much more effective. Again, he doesn't necessarily rack up the big numbers either in sacks or tackles, but I believe he'll get to the Pro Bowl this year. I believe he's played well enough to do that when he's been on the field. And that's because, even though the numbers aren't there, all the offenses and all the offensive lineman know that they have to find out where 93 is and they have to take special care of him.
(On the changes the Patriots have made to stop big plays)
PK: Really what it looked like to me is that they've decided to be more aggressive on the front end. There are two ways to play pass defense. One is to just rush just three, drop eight and hope that you take away the throwing lanes long enough that the quarterback decides to throw it away. But I think they got hurt by that earlier on. Now they're being more aggressive -- not only just on third down but on first and second down-- with that front seven and they're getting enough heat that the guys on the back end don't have to hold up as long. The other thing, too, is that these guys have been playing together practically till the end of the season now, so they have a lot of games together. As somebody earlier pointed out, I think they must know back there that that's it, those are the guys that are going to take them as far as they're going to go. There's nobody else out there, they're not going to get anybody else back, and my guess is that assurance has probably helped their confidence.