Head Coach Mike Martz
Friday, December 31, 2004

(Opening statement)
“Just a little bit about our injury situation, as you probably have discovered, we did put S Aeneas Williams on IR (injured reserve). Talking to Aeneas, I really do think that he wanted to come back this week, and potentially, if things went well, in the playoffs. It just puts him in Jeopardy or at risk (if he played). It just hasn’t progressed well enough to play him. It’s just not worth it. We did put him on IR, which has allowed us to pick up another player. Injury wise, TE Cam (Cleeland) should be fine from his concussion. We should have him this weekend. He will practice today. Other than that, RB Steven (Jackson) is fine, and G Tom Nütten’s foot is fine. I think we’re pretty healthy, other than those things. We are a little banged up. I think our Monday (night game) schedule is routine from what we’ve done in the past, in terms of making sure we give the players two days off. This Saturday’s practice will be more of an abbreviated Friday practice, always with the thought that recovery is the most important issue, and then you take a little bit off the end if you have to. Particularly this time of the season, when you want to cut back some of your reps anyway. In terms of the Jets, Defensively, they’re outstanding up front. I think the two tackles inside are just absolutely having a wonderful year. They’re very physical and have a great push. We’ve watched some outstanding guards really struggle with them physically. (LB Jonathan) Vilma, obviously is playing well with the speed and range that he has. Overall, defensively, I think they are very impressive, particularly the front. They’ve done a terrific job. They’re very efficient on offense. They’re a terrific running team, and they do a great job rushing the football. The quarterback manages the game terrific, he is a high-percentage passer, and he sees things well. I know he was banged up a little bit, but his team does what it takes to win. The mark of a good quarterback is moving the football, and he does this. It’s a big game for both of us. It keeps our hopes alive for the playoffs, and of course the Jets as well. It’s what the NFL should be all about this time of the year. Final game of the season, and having this kind of importance is a thrill to be a part of. As a coach and a player you work each year to be in this situation, so we’re fortunate to be here, and we look forward to it.”

(On if he’s talked to S Aeneas Williams about his future)
“No. That’s way too premature. I know deep down inside he really wants to play. I had a discussion with him last week, and I think down deep inside, he knows that it would be very difficult for him to play. At that time we talked about it to some extent. We’re just not going to put him in jeopardy like that. We’ll just see when the season is over how he is managing. He’ll decide what he wants to do, and we’ll go from there.”

(On RB Steven Jackson’s knee)
“It’s a regular bruise. There was no bone bruise, there wasn’t anything done to the structure of the knee, or any swelling. It shocked him. I think it scared him more than anything else, the way that it happened. It was just a superficial bruise, really.”

(On getting the game ball)
“Those are the moments as a football coach that you treasure more than anything else. It’s hard for me to put into words what that means to me. It’s hard to talk about it without getting emotional. It means the world to me that they thought enough to do that, particularly at that moment. It just meant the world that they would think to do that.”

(On getting criticized in the media)
“For whatever reason, I’m not sure. It’s like I told them, ‘as long as you got your guys, your players and your coaches, I feel like I can withstand anything. It just kind of makes you stronger.’ We’ll deal with that part of it. I’m not concerned about criticism anymore in the national media. I think initially it shocked me, in my first few years of coaching. You have to follow your conviction, and how you see things. The connection that I have with these players, that’s why you coach. To see a guy like Jimmy Kennedy progress the way he has over the last year, to watch Marc Bulger develop, and the thrill it is to me to see these coaches experience that with these players too. That’s why you coach, if they leave here a better player and a better man, they you’ve done your job well.”

(On if they last game was meaningful after the past few weeks)
“There has been a lot of things that have happened, so it was very meaningful. I’ve always maintained that this is a special group of people. There are a lot of things that happened during the season that have slowed us down, so to speak, some obstacles that we had to overcome. The bottom line is, here in the last game of the season, we are in position to potentially move on. I think the resolve and the perseverance that these guys have demonstrated throughout the season is remarkable. All these things that happened during the season, yet they continue to play. That’s a thrill to me, and it means a great deal that they continued to play like that.”

(On DT Chris Dishman)
“His knee went out on him on a Thursday practice, and he was suppose to be out for the year, but he’s battling like crazy to get back for the last game or two, and hopefully the playoffs. You can’t describe the connection or the feeling, or how meaningful that is. I’ve made this comment to these players many times, that once they’re here in this room, the connection that they develop with each other will last a lifetime. They don’t realize it now, but 10, 15, 20 years from now, they will realize that this really is a second family to them, and to take advantage of it, and enjoy this moment and time that you have. I think that’s starting to develop with these guys. I think that we have a lot of players that are young players that didn’t experience this in the past, and some guys from other teams (that didn’t experience this). This team is starting to grow together, I really believe that. We’ve been through quite a storm, but I think we’re working our way out of the storm. I just think that this team finally, physically, and in every other way, is starting to come together a little bit. Obviously, it has to be at this time.”

(On if he thinks this team is going to make the playoffs)
“I do. I wake up in the middle of the night with all kinds of thought about things that I have to do the next day, football things, and issues. If you don’t demonstrate that resolve and commitment, if you don’t feel that in your heart, it’s not going to come across to your players. That’s how I feel.”

(On if he is worried that his players will pay attention to the scoreboard during the game)
“I think inexperienced players would have a tendency to do that. I think with these guys, we have been through so much at this point, I think we all understand that this game is sudden death for us. It really is truly a playoff game, and we do not go on if we lose this game. For anything good to happen, this is the first step. We need to take care of business, and that’s where the whole focus needs to be. Our guys have been through this enough now, when we have lost focus, we have had some things happen, and have been able to bounce back. I think we’ve been through enough, and had our face to the fire so to speak, that I think they understand the situation pretty well.”

(On if they are ready to go)
“I think they are. I think after I watched the tapes, particularly on defense, we were swarming to the ball, like we’ve wanted to do all year. It’s been a long process on defense. They’ve had to learn the defense. A lot of it was entirely different than what they’ve experienced in the past. Offensively, we challenge these guys quite a bit mentally. Defensively, we were probably a lot simpler in some respects, and now we’ve become much more multiple. That’s a whole different mindset to get into, and you have to show them that it is worth while, and it will pay off. Once they get into that mode and experience the success of doing those things, then they get excited about it. I think that’s where they are.”

(On LB Jonathan Vilma)
“He has so much range. He could be out of position, and recover (at the snap of a finger), and make the play. Those kind of guys are so unique, and so special. What a brilliant career he has ahead of him. He’s very significant on their defense.”

(On if he changes the gameplan for a big game like this one)
“You always have to do what you think you need to do in terms of personnel matchups. You have to change, there’s no question. You have to adjust to their strengths, and if it matches a weakness that you have. There’s adjustments that you always need to do. After the first quarter you start to adjust also, on both sides of the ball. Everybody has different personnel, and their perception of how to play you is different on both sides of the ball, so you need to adjust.”

(On if he’s going to get the team together to watch the Seattle game)
“I haven’t even gone that far. I’m worrying about that first series of plays, I’m still working on those. Even when the season starts, I couldn’t tell you who the fourth or fifth game is on our schedule. You assume nothing, you just have to make sure that every second and every detail is covered.”

(On if RB Steven Jackson’s success will alter what they do with RB Marshall Faulk)
“We do what we do. Marshall is such a good player, it kind of tickles me at some respect, people were always on me to make sure that Marshall has the ball, now we don’t want Marshall to have the ball, we want Steven to have the ball, and I understand that. But Marshall is a good player, and he’s going to start for us and continue to do the things that we always do with Marshall. Steven will work his way into the situation. Fortunately, he is healthy. Arlen (Harris) is a good player too. We may use all three of them. I’m very pleased with the results rushing wise, considering all of the issues that we have had injury wise, and experience wise in the offensive line. They’ve done a remarkable job.”