New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, September 16, 2009.
Q: Mark, what are your thoughts as a rookie quarterback on facing a Belichick defense?
MS: Well, he is a renowned defensive coach, him and Coach [Dean] Pees, they are great at scheming. They know how to give quarterbacks fits and disrupt game plans so we need to be prepared for the best. They have a great situation going over there. They've been tough for a long time since I've known them. So it's going to be a fun match up for us and an exciting match up, a big challenge and we're excited about it.
Q: Mark, do you have a sense of the intensity of the Jets-Patriots rivalry? Has that hit you yet?
MS:I think that's one of those things I'll come to know here very shortly. This is a big time divisional opponent, and [I'll] just keep learning on the fly like I did last week and how important the opening...and now a divisional opponent, these games carry a lot of weight in this league and it's my job to get that sense of this rivalry and understand that I need to be at my best, just like every game. We want to build this game up but at the same time...I said they're as formidable opponent, these games carry a lot of weight in a divisional game and it's up to me to keep learning a long and listening to these veterans and understand how important this matchup is to us, but at the same time not get carried away and make it bigger than it should be. I just need to play a football game and be smart and learn from the mistakes last week: correct them and keep improving on what I did well.
Q: You said you didn't want to get carried away and look at this game as bigger than what it is, but yet I think one of your teammates was quoted as saying you're going to treat this like a Super Bowl.
MS: I don't even know, that's one guy's opinion, if that gets him fired up...For me, I don't know what the Super Bowl feels like. So, the Patriots do. All I know is this is a phenomenal team coming into our place and we need to play well at home and they know how to play on the road, they know how to play all the time, so this is a great team.
Q: Mark, your coach said he was not basically hired to kiss Bill Belichick's Super Bowl rings, do you like that attitude from Rex [Ryan]? Do you welcome that kind of comment?
MS: Oh, that's just the way coach Ryan is. It's not up to me to judge anything like that. That's just the mentality he wants us to have. We want to be tough and we want to be as physical as possible and he didn't want us bowing down to anyone is basically how he explained it to us and that's the kind of mentality that every team should have, and it's obvious on Sundays because teams come after you and that's what we want, especially in a divisional game like this. So that's neither here nor there for me to judge what coach says, but that's the guy I'm following and we need to take on his kind of attitude as well.
Q: Mark, having watched the Patriots defense on film, and now without one of its best players in Jerod Mayo, what do you see? What's the threat they pose to you?
MS: I know, I've seen a lot of great athletes. Guys like [Vince] Wilfork in the middle and man, is he a great run stopper and he does well on the pass rush as well. Mayo was a big time playmaker for them and seemed to be all over the field; anywhere the ball was at the end of the film, he's right there either making the tackle or assisting on a tackle, tipping the ball. People are talking about how they lost all their great players in [Tedy] Bruschi, and [Mike] Vrabel and Rodney Harrison, but this kind of team, and the kind of coaching staff they have, they're the kind of team that rebuilds and plugs another guy into their system and they just know how to play and they draft the right players with the right attitudes. They know how to play in big games and that's a tribute to their coaching staff. They're a phenomenal group and well schooled in the secondary, especially [Shawn] Springs. He's a tough player. He's smart; he's been around a long time and really knows how to play. He knows how to read quarterbacks so it's my job to play at my very best and be smart with the football and this is a phenomenal group we're playing.
Q: Mark, how much do you think your learning curve has been accelerated because you practice, on daily basis, against such a talented defense?
MS: I think that's really helped over the summer. I didn't understand how much it would help until we started playing in these regular season games and understanding how difficult our defensive scheme is to play against, while you're trying to learn an offense. I mean it was tough. Those summer practices were not fun. I was having a great time being in the NFL and practicing with these all-pros, pro-bowler guys and then I'd come out here and get picked off all summer. It was just difficult, but now I'm starting to understand as I'm getting our offense down a little bit here and there, little by little each week how difficult that was and what a challenge that was as a rookie. Then you go into a regular game and when you get a vanilla defense in the pre-season, you feel a lot better about yourself. At the same time, you go to Houston and the pre-season's over. So it's almost like this up-and-down roller coaster and I'm trying to stay right in the middle and just be smart with the football and take things as they come. Our defense is a phenomenal group, as well, and it's going to be a great match up for them and they've got a great offense coming into town here and they sure know how to play. So, they've been great. They've been successful against a lot of defenses, so hopefully we can hold them.
Q: Mark do you guys look at this as a measuring stick game for your team?
MS: I don't know about that. I think we want to feel like this is an internal measuring stick, each week. We want to look at our film and [it] be about us. We don't want to put too much emphasis on the opponent, we definitely respect every opponent we play, especially this team but I don't feel like we have to measure up against one particular team. It's about us, competing every day and making each other better and trying to put on a show every Sunday.
Q: You don't have any comparison in terms of NFL coaches, but how would you describe Coach Ryan as a head coach?
MS: He doesn't hide anything under the rug. He's direct and [uses] blunt force trauma, I guess, you would call it because he tells you exactly how it is and doesn't hide anything. When you throw a pick, when you make a good play, he'll let you know. The most encouraging thing is that he's got a lot of faith in our offense, our defense, and our special teams and he's conveyed that to us. He's a great leader. He's someone you want to play for. He knows how to take care of his players and this is all coming from a rookie so this is all I know so far. I think he's been great and I love playing for him. When I got picked off last week he was the first one there to pick me up and to say, 'Hey man, we're not letting up at all. You're going to play smart with the football. That was one bad throw and don't sweat it. We're still going to throw the football. Don't think that we're going to just clam up here and run the ball the rest of the game. We're going to be smart, we're still going to air it out so don't you sweat it at all.' That was very encouraging to me, so I appreciated that.
Q: Mark, what's the biggest thing that's surprised you having watched the Patriots on film? Is it their coverages? A lot of players have said that they run a lot of different coverages.
MS: Their coverages are unique. They do some things a little unorthodox that you don't see very often and then they have the athletes to play in those schemes, so just when you think you might have a wide open route, they have somebody trapping you, running underneath it, or a safety coming down and picking off your pass. They do a great job of giving quarterbacks fits and they play well together. You don't think of the Patriots as just one superstar that makes every single tackle. They're a great team not just a bunch of individuals, so they're a special group and we're excited to play them.