Q: We have not talked to you yet this year, and here we are in the second half of the season. It would seem to me that your team is playing the way you would have envisioned you would—you have won three out of the last four and the last three at home. Are you kind of hitting your stride right now?
CP: Well we have definitely made progress and improvement. I think offensively we took a step back versus Buffalo, but overall I think we have been playing pretty consistently and pretty well.
Q: Last year you lost so many players—10 players or whatever—in the off season, so people wanted to see how you were going to adjust to that. It seems as time has gone on you have adjusted to some of the losses and some of the losses you have had during the season are players you have now, like [Wayne] Chrebet. Is it more difficult for you to operate when you have lost people like that?
CP: The first thing you have to learn about the game of football, and especially in the NFL, is that you have to be able to adapt to change. No matter what the circumstances are, you have to be able to adapt and still perform. In our system, whoever gets the chance to step up, they get their chance and it is my job to get them the football. We do not get down on who is not in there or who we lost, we just look forward to the future and look to the positive side.
Q: When the Patriots played the Jets earlier, there was a lot of loose talk that Curtis Martin had had too many hits, he was sliding away. Lo and behold he has 1100 yards and is doing the things he has always done. Talk a little bit about him and what he means to you—I am sure he means a great deal to you.
CP: Curtis is our workhorse. First and foremost I think he is our true professional on the team. He does things the right way on and off the field. He is a great role model for our young players and especially for me. Just having him back in the backfield gives me extra confidence.
Q: I think any quarterback in our league would say that you have to have a running back like him or a running back that is consistent, don't you?
CP: Absolutely. I think you have to have a running game if you want to be successful in a consistent manner in this league. Curtis is the epitome of success and really the epitome of consistency. He comes in year in and year out, produces over 1000 yards, he is right there for your team every time you need him. That is what you need if you want to build a winning program.
Q: Chad, you have been back just seven games. Any residual effects from your injury when you started? You had a perfect game there somewhere along the line, I remember—the Colts game you had the perfect rating.
CP: I feel comfortable. Obviously I would like to be in a different situation than what we are in, but the biggest thing is that as a quarterback I have to use this as a learning situation and make sure that I can do everything in my power from here on out to not let this situation happen to us again because we definitely want to be competing for the playoffs year in and year out. Similar to the Patriots, we have to find ways to win games. That is what they have been able to do and that is why they are 12-2.
Q: There is no consolation—people say 'Pennington is going to have a great career as time goes on,' but that is no consolation when you are 6-8 I suppose.
CP: Not at all. My whole focus is on winning football games and ultimately winning a championship. Stats and performance are great and all, but the biggest focus is on winning as a team. You have to win as a team.
Q: What about this week? You are playing a team that is obviously on a huge roll. You are very familiar with them. Your team is very familiar with them. If you do not have a bad track, both teams will be able to operate the way they usually do. How do you view the Patriots and the things you might be able to do against them?
CP: I think the Patriots have a unique ability to find a way to win a football game. No matter what the situation is, somebody is always coming up big for them and it is not necessarily the same guy every week. Someone always finds a way to make a play and get the momentum in their favor and they turn up on the winning side. That is a tribute to their team and to their coaches, how they stay focused for 60 minutes. This is going to be a 60-minute battle. You cannot let up one second, because that one play could be the deciding factor in the game.
Q: Being home is a decided advantage to your ball club, certainly in the last month. Is there a difference playing at home on that turf?
CP: I just think any time you get a chance to play at home it is exciting because you have your home team fans. You do not have to go play on the road—it is very difficult to win on the road. Any time you get a chance to play at home you want to perform well and protect your home field advantage.
Q: From where you stand, Chad, you have played [Tennessee], you have played the Colts—you know what the quality, elite teams are. Where do you put the Patriots in that trio?
CP: I look at the Patriots defense as being on of the great defenses in our league this year because they find ways to make plays. They do a very good job of causing the offense to turn the ball over and creating great field position for their offense. Anytime it seems they need to make a play they make it and they do it in all different facets. They do a great job of confusing quarterbacks with coverage and blitz schemes and stopping the run as well.
Q: Field position, Chad, is important with every single team in every single game, but it seems like the Patriots rely on that, like you mentioned, maybe more than any team in the league right now. That is a big reason for their success. How or where in that field position battle are you?
CP: I think field position is always the key to winning an NFL football game. Being able to play on a short field as an offense dramatically increases your chances to get points, whether it is a field goal or a touchdown. Your offensive mindset changes when you are winning the field position battle. Offenses tend to attack more when they have great field position, so it is probably the key to the whole game.
Q: Chad, is the fact that you are trying to get to 8-8 and not having a losing season at least, is that motivation for your ball club?
CP: I think so. I think we are disappointed where we are, but we have to play the cards we are dealt with. I think it is important to the organization to finish up with an 8-8 record and not have a losing season when you are trying to establish a winning program and become a playoff contender. You have to start that winning thought process in your head. By finishing 8-8 I think we can do that.
Q: Herman [Edwards] has a positive attitude about a lot of things. Your team always looks like they are on the cusp of doing it again, you are just behind schedule a bit this year.
CP: Yeah. We have had a few games where we felt like we let those slip out of our grasp and if we would not have, we would be in the same situation we were in last year where we did have a chance. That is not what we are dealt with and that is why we are disappointed and we are aggravated, but at the same time we have to finish strong. We have to stay our course and realize that we have two more games that we have to finish out.
Q: Not only that, but you have two more games against division foes, where you might have something to say about who finishes where and who might not even get into the playoffs.
CP: If we cannot go, we might as well take somebody down with us. That is our thought process