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Jets Head Coach Al Groh Press Conference

Phone ConferenceJets Head Coach Al Groh speaks to the press.



            **Q:  How different is it to coach a team that has gotten better as the season has gone on?**  

G: I think we're about the same as what I hoped that we might be. I thought that we would be a battling team that could make ourselves hard to beat. If you're hard to beat, that usually translates into, hopefully translates into the fact that often times you don't get beat. I say that in contrast to say that I didn't think we'd be a team like St. Louis. I don't think their intent is to be a team that is hard to beat. Their intent is to be a team that is going to climb all over you and win by running away. I don't think that we were going to be able to be that type of team. I think one of the things that is important for a coach to assess every year is whether his team can play and win close games. If you can do that, you have a chance every week. I thought going into the season, that in trying to be brutally honest with myself, because this is one that you can't lie to yourself on, that we would have a chance to play and win close games. We played four close games and won them. When we played one that we allowed to become unclose, as the game went on, we could win that one.

Q: When you have back-to-back dramatic wins, it must tell your team a lot about themselves.

G: I think that that particular point in past history, unfortunately we learned something else about our team. Our most recent one isn't as comforting as the ones that preceded it.

Q: What does Wayne Chrebet mean to your team?

G: I think the probably, the unexpectedness as you cited is one his greatest characteristics. It is interesting that you say that, I haven't heard anybody in questioning or discussing him refer to it in that way. That certainly is one of his best qualities. The unexpected just always seem to come from him in crucial moments. I've said this on other occasions, when Wayne first came in the league given what those circumstances were, he was kind of a nice story for everybody and he stayed that way for a while. He's not nice story anymore. He's simply one of the better players in the league.

Q: Have you made a determination on Vinny Testaverde's status?

G: I have a little more information on it than I had on Monday in disclosing it to people and a little more information my own gratification. What we need to know will only come about from today's practice session and perhaps the ones following it. That's probably going to be an undetermined circumstance for our team that quite frankly I'd like to get cleared up as quickly as possible. Because it is just one more variable. The less variables the team has to deal with usually the cleaner they play. This is a significant variable now that I'd like to get reduced as soon as we can.

Q: Is this team better suited for this situation because it went through it last year when Vinny Testaverde was hurt?

G: Certainly I would like to think that that is the case. We did have that experience and usually you should learn from experience or else it was just a circumstance wasted. At the same time, I think you don't live too much off of history that this is a game of stepping up to the plate everyday. I think that our team collectively and Ray (Lucas) as the quarterback certain other individuals have to step up and do it the same way this year or else that's all it was, a nice chapter in one year's history.
Q: Curtis Martin seems like a player you can always count on.

G: That's probably a great way…To say he's a guy you can count on, to say that he's the same guy everyday, seems like an unspectacular or a mundane way to describe one of the very best players in the league. When I hear those words, I feel like I'm understating the guy. He's simply a marvelous player. He's a great guy to have on your team in terms of, he understands competition, he understands team mentality, he's willing to put it on the line in every circumstance with no attempt to protect his ego. He just wants to win. He truly is sincere in that. Regardless of it being, knowing the right thing to say or holds up under positive circumstances but crumbles when things get tough, he's the best of guys to have on a team.

Q: Curtis Martin seems to be a sincere guy.

G: His sincerity and his integrity as it pertains to him as a person and as a competitor are probably his two greatest traits.

Q: Does this game have any extra importance to you?

G: It is a very big challenge for our team, quite obviously as you stated, but I think the important thing to me in assessing all of our opponents is not what their record is, but how are they playing right now. That is, if we were to play a team that is 10-4, but has lost their last three games, I would think we were playing a 10-4 team. At this time, I think Patriots, over the course of the last two weeks, have accomplished as much and are playing as well as any team in the league. To beat Denver out there, and then beat Indianapolis, if they were playing at Suffolk Downs it would a terrific accomplishment. It doesn't make any difference where that game was played. They're playing extremely good ball and I would expect them to continue to do so. The quality within our own division makes this a pretty notable challenge.

Q: What has changed about the Patriots since the first game?

G: Number one on defense, of course I knew this going into the first game, and it was pretty well confirmed by the results of most of the game. I think they are a highly-talented defense. Something like eight first or second round draft choices playing on defense which is half of the talent that they have. They're fast and they have a lot of team speed on defense. They're nasty and they are kind of deadly at what they do. Turn the ball over, sack the quarterback, I think it is a terrific unit and I know that not just from evaluating them on tape, but having the privilege of personally coaching a number of those players. On offense, they really gained a solidness inside, I think the two guard inside have helped them a lot. They're tough aggressive players, they made it a lot more difficult to get to the quarterback. I think our single greatest challenge will be to try to disrupt Drew (Bledsoe) who, I've used the words before, I thought he played magnificently against Tampa. I think he's continuing to play extremely well. As we know in this league, we can talk about a whole lot of other things, special teams, defense, red zone offense, all that business. The really good teams have really good quarterbacks, and he's a really good quarterback.

Q: What's your overview of the AFC East?

G: It's a very tough division in which every week if you try and look at the big picture, in this division if you try to spectate it instead of compete in it, then that's what you'll end up being, a spectator. This is about a series of 16 very difficult battles to win and I think whether you won the week before or lost the week before, it doesn't have much impact on this week. You could have won three in a row, and it is going to be just as hard to win that Sunday. You could have lost two in a row and it's just as hard to win that Sunday. I think we'll probably see that continue in this race.

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