NEW YORK JETS QUARTERBACK RYAN FITZPATRICK
Q: Can you take us through the play at the end, the pick?
A: Yeah, we tried to isolate there with a tighter split so he would line up in the slot and we could motion someone inside of him and he ran like a skinny post type rail. Really just anticipation and timing throw to put it out there. I think I threw it a little in front of him but I also think Leodis [McKelvin] made a nice play. He sort of read the route a little bit and Leodis did a nice job on that one. Obviously a huge point of the game and I wish I had that one back.
Q: Can you talk a little bit Fitz about the frustration level? You come in here, you know the situation, and in this building too, there are probably a lot of people out there that are pulling for you.
A: Yeah, it was tough. All you can ask for in this game is just an opportunity and as poorly as we played in the first quarter and as slow as we were going there, we picked it up and had an opportunity at the end to win the game. We weren’t able to pull it off and my heart hurts so bad right now for all those guys in the locker room. It was a tough one.
Q: What is it like when you’re envisioning something; you’re imagining something before the game, what was that like for you? I’m sure they were all positive thoughts.
A: Yeah, it’s an NFL football game. We knew we were going to have to come in and earn it and we knew this was going to be a fight and they were going to give us their best. We weren’t going to be able to just walk on the field and they weren’t going to bow down to us. It was going to be a fight and they played well today. They played tough and made more plays than we did.
Q: Fitz did Marcell [Dareus] hit you before that second interception?
A: The one that went up into the air? Yeah.
Q: Going back to the interception in the end zone, on the second down there did you have the idea to throw it away, live another day and kick the field goal instead?
A: I mean in hindsight, that probably would have been the best thing to do, but we had what we wanted in terms of the defense and the route. We just weren’t able to connect.
Q: Were you aware of [Chris] Ivory wide open at all? Did you at all see his release and that he was uncovered?
A: To the right? I was reading the left side of the field, he was on the right side of the field but I had exactly what I wanted with Eric [Decker], I just didn’t make the throw.
Q: What did you tell your teammates? What do you tell them?
A: There’s not a whole lot of talking in there right now, but it’s hard to come up with words just because we really came together as a team this year and I feel like we fought through a lot of adversity. We were on a nice little run there and we just couldn’t finish it off. I stand in front of them and I’m proud to be their teammate, I’m proud to be in that locker room, but also just feel bad for not being able to pull it out.
Q: Fitz, this season for you personally was probably the best one you’ve had in your career. For it to end in this type of fashion, how did that make you feel?
A: I mean it’s the hardest and most difficult end to a season I’ve ever had in terms of how I feel right now and how painful of a loss that was. At this point it doesn’t feel like a very great season.
Q: Is it at all tougher to swallow because it’s here, in a place you know so well and a place that knows you?
A: I don’t know. I don’t know if that adds to it honestly. I think there’s so much to it but it wasn’t because of where it was or anything like that, I think it was because of what was at stake.
Q: Were they doing anything defensively early in the game that made it tough for you guys?
A: They brought some zero blitzes on the third down that I wasn’t able to capitalize on. But other than that, it wasn’t anything too crazy.
Q: When you found Decker on that touchdown, that made it 19-17, at that point did you have a good feeling about how this game might end?
A: Yeah, we were rolling a little bit there and it just felt like we had some momentum in our favor. Even the drive that ended up in the interception, it was a good feeling, it was one of those huddles where we had the thing going and unfortunately I didn’t make the throw on that one.
Q: Did you think at all early, the first series was rough; the first half was tough, that it might be a very difficult day, tougher than you expected?
A: We came in knowing it was going to be a tough game. Early on we got off to a tough start- couldn’t get anything going, couldn’t convert any third downs and that kind of made it tough. Just like the season, we’ve had some of those games where you stick with it, you stick with it and nobody was hanging their head in the huddle. We came back we made a few plays, but just didn’t make enough in the end.
Q: What is the benefit of hindsight, I know it hurts right now and it will hurt for a while, but will you take some things out of this year that you never would have expected and that will serve you well moving forward?
A: I mean it’s hard to even think about right now. Like I said, I am proud of everyone in that locker room right now but it hurts, it hurts me a lot. After this interview I have to walk back in there and just the feeling of not playing your best and not making the plays we needed to make to win. It’s part of the game I love too, the adversity and being able to walk back in there and look everybody in the eye and give them a hug and shake hands. That’s part of being part of a team and so it’s tough and it hurts, but there is a lot of love in that locker room with the guys.
BUFFALO BILLS WIDE RECEIVER SAMMY WATKINS
Q: Is this the kind of day you envisioned?
A: Yeah, we just stuck to the game plan. The coaches had a great game plan and the offense prepared the right way. I did my film work and we were just unshakable. We didn’t care what was going on, what plays we didn’t make, the flags, we were just out there playing together. And most of all, we were having fun.
Q: What’s the meaning of finishing this way in what has been a tough year overall?
A: You have good and bad games. But for this one, we just played. We didn’t care about calls or what defense Rex run or what offense called. We just came out there and played and we didn’t care what was going on outside with penalties or anything. Our job was to go out there and get a win and that’s what we did and we prepared the right way during the week. We had fun during the week and we had fun during the game.
Q: Do you think that’s an attitude you and this team can carry into next year?
A: Yeah, we have no choice. If somebody doesn’t live up to the hype or play the way they should play, like I said, get them out of here. And now, I think everybody understands that we can win. It’s not about winning. We just have to come together as a team and do what the coaches ask us to do. And do the job to the best of your ability and get the win.
Q: How evident was it to you that [Darrelle] Revis was not going to let you beat him over the top?
A: I’ve been getting the same coverage for the last few weeks. Tyrod [Taylor] has been doing a great job with deep shots. We get 15-yard gains until you come up and then let’s take bigger shots. And that was the game plan—run the ball, play action. The line did a great job, the running backs did a great job and, of course, Tyrod just keeps getting better and we just keep connecting.
Q: How much does it mean to Rex and to you guys to keep the Jets, a divisional opponent, out of the playoffs?
A: Honesty, it wasn’t about keeping them out of the playoffs. There’s still football that has got to be played. I know we’re not making it to the playoffs but our fans still come out and cheer us on. It wasn’t even about the Jets it was about us and finishing this up the right way. And next year when we come to training camp and say, “Hey, we won our last game and we won two out of three divisions and swept our division.” We just have to, like I said, continue to grow as a team and stay with each other.
Q: You were able to keep the Jets out of the playoffs. That must have felt really special and you were a big part of it.
A: It was great. We had a game plan and went by that game plan and had preparation. We knew it was going to be a hard game and we knew it was going to be a defense and offense game, so for us we just kept hitting that nail. We knew we were going to get three and outs, we knew we were going to make a lot of plays. Our defense did a great job, Rex did a great job, and offense did a great job. We just played well and we finished the game.
Q: Was this what you had in mind after the Washington game when you said some strong things and showed leadership?
A: That’s my job. I think I need to become a better leader. And I think if I do that this team will be better. We need more leaders on this team. We have a lot of great players but we don’t have that many leaders. I think it starts with the players that make plays and the players that don’t make plays. We just need to hold accountability in the whole locker room, from the coaches, to the players, to everybody. Once we do that, we’ll be fine as a whole team. We just have to keep playing football.
Q: Rex called Revis one of the greatest corners of all time. After this game and what you did to him today, does that give you any added confidence?
A: No confidence. I just have to play my game and prepare the right way and watch film. I know he’s going to be a future Hall of Famer. The coaches did a great job of putting me in the right situations with the right coverage and helping me out all week with identifying coverages and what he does well. They put me in the right position to make the best plays.
Q: What will you take away personally from this year?
A: Like I said, leadership. You can have all of the players and all of the coaches, and a great staff and a great organization and guys putting things in place, but it starts with the players. It needs to be player driven. We need to come together as players and say, “Hey man, we need to do whatever we need to do to win.” That’s what we need to do.
Q: How much are you going to work with Tyrod in the offseason, if any?
A: We are definitely going to get some work in. We had an okay year, but I want him to know me better and then just practice on the field. We need to build a relationship. Him and I might be together for a while, you never know. So, just to get more chemistry on the field and off the field.
Q: After falling 18 short of 1,000 yards last year, to get that this year—how is that?
A: It’s a great accomplishment. Like I said, the coaches and everybody said, “Go out there and get 89 yards and play hard,” and I knew that. So I went out there with the mindset that if I could get 89 to 100 yards, we should win the game. And it was great because we won the game. I would’ve been very upset if I had 100 something yards and we lost the game. It was great because we got the win.
Q: You were using the middle of the field a lot, which you hadn’t done earlier. Had you and Tyrod talked about this?
A: Yeah, just split the defense. That was one of the things that my coach preached on—if you get the ball, run with the ball. Get as many as you can, because it’s going to add up. That’s what I did well. When I caught the ball, I was trying to score every time I touched it.
BUFFALO BILLS CB LEODIS McKELVIN
Q: You have been here long enough to know that you aren’t going to the posteason, but how satisfying is it to not let this team celebrate on your home turf?
A: I mean I got another one of my old teammates coming in trying to beat me to get to the playoffs, so I mean that feel great. Feel great that you know he feel just like I feel going to be watching at home.
Q: Was the interception the same as the Washington route?
A: Same one. I mean last time I widened out this time I stayed straight, seeing it coming and jumped it. You know and got the great reward for it.
Q: When they brought the guy in motion was that when you sensed it was coming?
A: No, when [Eric] Decker wide me out, he tried to wide me out. He tried to get, if widened out and he could get back up underneath me. It is pretty much the same thing that we did and noticed two weeks ago and I remembered, you know it is the red zone, double d you know, they ran it two weeks ago so you got to remember what beat you two weeks ago or beat you in any other game and that is what you go with.
Q: Seemed like Fitz decided that was where he was going with it?
A: Most definitely. I mean he knew that, he knew two weeks ago what I do. I widened out, Reed got up underneath me and they scored a touchdown that day. And just like I say it is a complicated league, I mean they did it again and they paid for it.
BUFFALO BILLS QB TYROD TAYLOR
Q: Given you guys aren’t going to the postseason, how good did it feel to keep the division rival out?
A: Definitely was a big game for us. Opportunity to sweep another divisional team, we knew going into this game, there was definitely a lot of us for us to learn from the season, but it was more so just attitudes that are going into next year and we went out there and got the job done.
Q: You guys ran on them in the first match up how did you guys do that early and then did anything change once Karlos (Williams) went out of the game?
A: Yes we had a multiple plan going into this game. Coach [Greg] Roman did a good job of scheming, and had a couple different sets that we wanted to throw at them just watching their film and seeing how they react to certain personnels. So coach done a good job of mixing it up and keeping them off balance and allowing us to see their blitzes when they were coming.
Q: You threw a lot over the middle to Sammy was there more of a commitment to that?
A: Just going off film, seeing what routes they have problems with and we was able to scheme them up and hit those routes.
Q: Do you feel you have grown this year as a pocket passer?
A: I feel I have grown each and every week. From week one till now definitely just playing, that I can throw from the pocket, pocket awareness, pocket presence and just going out there and beating teams from the pocket. Some teams take away the shot plays and force you to dink and dunk coming down the field and we was able to do that today.
Q: What are the biggest things you take out of this year as the starting quarterback?
A: Definitely going to sit back in a couple weeks and critique the whole season, critique myself. But definitely I felt the learning curve throughout the season. Like I said I think I gradually got better each and every game. So it will be time within the next couple weeks that I sit down with the coaches and by myself and critique myself.
Q: What can you say about the job Sammy did against Darrelle Revis today?
A: Done a great job, wasn’t able to get him the ball at much in the first game as we wanted too. I missed a big pass early in the game to him the first game. He was able to beat the coverage this week, he did a good job of getting open and coming friendly to the ball and I was able to pound him. The line done a good job of blocking, blocking their pressures and we was able to get the ball off.
Q: Is the approach the more Sammy gets the ball, the better?
A: Of course with a playmaker like Sammy you want to get him the ball. Our offense it can feed off of him, it can feed off the running game, whatever it takes that week. But of course you like to get a guy, a guy with that type of talent the ball because it can be dangerous once he gets the ball in his hands.
Q: Sammy said that you guys kind of captured the attitude you need to carry into a game today, did you sense that and is that something to take into 2016?
A: Ye and that was something that we stressed earlier in the week. I mean you could listen to I guess the media you could say or just the people outside our locker room saying we don’t have anything to play for. But as an athlete anytime you step on the field you always have something to play for, something to prove to people. With us not being in the playoffs it was definitely a time for us to go out there and prove to people who we are and that we are not going to back down and give the Jets a free way into the playoffs. We was able to lock in and play a full game, offense, defense and special teams.
Q: A little bittersweet you can beat them two games like that and they finish two games ahead of you and you miss the playoffs?
A: It was good to like you said to sweep another team in our division. Of course we want to be in the playoffs but that is something we will work towards next year.
Q: This is the first time in your pro career that you know you are going to be the starter next year, what is your mindset to work with the receivers, what are you going to do in the offseason away from the coaches?
A: Excited about that opportunity. Coming into last year the reps where spilt by three different guys. Wasn’t able to work with Sammy [Watkins], Shady [LeSean McCoy], [Charles] Clay the way I wanted too. I am excited for that opportunity, the guys are excited for it and we have talked about it. Definitely going to get a lot of confidence this offseason going into next year.
NEW YORK JETS WIDE RECEIVER BRANDON MARSHALL
Q: When you guys ended up 19-17 after the touchdown did you have a feeling that things looked good for you guys?
A: Yeah, we started off slow. The fact that we were battle tested so that we were comfortable in situations like this. I think every weekend most games come down to two or three points. You have to be able to push through at the end and we didn’t get the job done.
Q: How disappointing is this considering the push you guys made at the end of the season?
A: I don’t know, I’m a little numb right now. I have no emotion. I’ve got to get on the bus and reflect a little bit. Need to look at the future.
Q: Why do you think this matchup was so tough for you guys with two of your six losses against them this year?
A: This was any given Sunday. I thought we were ready, I thought we were prepared. We made some mistakes and shot ourselves in the foot early but you can’t do that in the National Football League, so we didn’t capitalize on our opportunity.
Q: Brandon, Fitz has played so well for you guys for the duration of the season for him to play the way he did, how disappointing was that?
A: Well I don’t know what you mean by how he played at the end, I thought he played an amazing game. I thought we all started off slow, collectively as a team, not just offensively. I think that one interception is on him, that post where (the) Washington (Redskins) hit it and Fitz didn’t. We thought that we would be able to do the same, but they adjusted, Leodis [McKelvin] jumped it, we didn’t even have a chance so that was more so strategy. The last pick, we broke down a little bit up front, they ran a little game on us and he got hit. He was coming to me, we liked our chances there, but there was nothing we could do about that. At the end, we had our chances and we didn’t come through and take advantage of that moment. That’s when you get a chance to make your name and we just didn’t do that.
Q: How do you feel about this season, going 10-6, but missing the playoffs?
A: We did some good things and we did some bad things. It sucks for the obvious reasons, it’s tough. It’s just like life; you just have to continue to pick yourself up. These are the moments that make you tough, these are the moments that build great character and championship teams and so we will see how our offseason goes and see how the future looks.
Q: Ryan [Fitzpatrick] was pretty distraught for obvious reasons when he came in here he said I have to go back in that locker room and face the guys. What did you think as a teammate?
A: If it wasn’t for Ryan Fitzpatrick we wouldn’t be in this position. Ryan needs to stop that and needs to keep his head up. He played and awesome game and not only that, he led us all season. He was the guy when we were on that decline a little bit mid-season that spoke up and brought the team together. There were other vets, but he led the way and I thought he played great. I thought we played slow in the first quarter but other than that he’s played well. You’ve got to give them credit, they have great players and they get paid too.
Q: He never throws interceptions in the end zone. When that pick happened, what was your reaction?
A: Well obviously it sucked because we understood the situation and the time that was on the clock, we definitely wanted to punch it in. Again, for me that was more just scheme, that was one of the plays we thought we would hit. We saw that like I said, Washington hit it, but they adjusted well. McKelvin came and read it well and we didn’t have a chance.
Q: You guys exceeded a lot of expectations this year by getting 10 wins…
A: No, no moral victories.
Q: Do you see this season as a failure because you missed the playoffs?
A: Yeah, any team that’s going home right now is a failure. We play for one reason and that’s to win it all. There are no moral victories, no one is going to feel sorry for you, so we just have to be men and deal with it.
Q: Do you see this loss staying with you for a while?
A: We put a lot in to it so each guy is different. Some guys will be over it by the end of the night, some guys will be over it in a day, some guys will be over it in a week but I feel like you have to get over it. I always talk about life and sport and how they coincide and you have to be tough. If you make a bad play, you have to get over it because it is going to affect the next play. These guys have to get over it because they’re still husbands, they’re still fathers. There is more to these guys than being football players, so, you have to take it, you have to give them credit and you have to move forward as quickly as possible and in no time we’ll be back at it again.
Provided by the Buffalo Bills.