Pennington: It's How You Finish

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Even though the Jets still find themselves near the bottom of a couple of stats columns, both their spirits and playoff hopes are alive and well. Chad Pennington's offense is currently ranked 24th while the Jets' defense is ranked 27th. Pennington feels that it is pretty easy to dust off such statistics as long as the team is winning.

"Well, I think we've won through the team concept," Pennington said. "One week it's been the offense to step up, another week it's been the defense to step up, another week it's been special teams providing huge plays - whether it's scoring points or providing field position. What we've also done a really good job of is finishing games. That's what it's about in this league. It's really not how you start, but it's definitely how you finish. Even when you start slow, your stats are going to reflect not having good stats, but when you finish fast, finish well, it's going to reflect in the win column. That's the most important."

Read below for Chad Pennington's complete press conference transcript

New York Jets' QB Chad Pennington, 12.6 On talking playoffs…

No, absolutely not (laughter). In this league, all you ask for is an opportunity and a chance to be successful, to have something to play for. Right now we're excited about where we are, our improvement every week. That's most important, is the improvement we've made every week, trying to get better and become a wholesome team, a more well-rounded team, a team that complements each other on each side of the football, including special teams, trying to produce team wins. That's what's going to make you successful later on.

On being in a position to have a playoff opportunity…

Right, I'm excited about the opportunity. I'm excited about having the chance just personally to play in December. December is a fun month in this league. It's exciting for me because after injuries and missing games, things like that, it's exciting to be able to be with your teammates on the field, putting forth a winning effort.

On feeling like the Jets' are in the driver's seat…

Not really. I think we're just really focused on what we can do to become a better team. That's being truthful, it really is, trying to find ways to become better, to get better. We're just two games removed from the middle of the season where we felt like we had a lot of improvement to do, a lot of things to work on. We still feel that way. We still feel like we've got some things to work on, got to clean up, get better in these next games, starting with Buffalo. We're playing a tough team. The difference between us being 7-5 and Buffalo being 5-7 is less than a touchdown. They've won two out of the last three games, playing extremely well on both sides of the ball, they're complementing each other well on both sides of the ball. Their special teams are the best in the league. This is a huge task for us.

On the difference between fighting for the playoffs now than in previous years…

I don't know if I can compare the two. With Coach Mangini, what I've learned under him is just taking the same approach week-in and week-out, that's what our team has been able to do win, lose or draw, to maintain the same approach, not be too high or too low, and understand it's a marathon, it's a full 16-round fight. In the NFL, every round counts, every game counts. You cannot let a game slip by, let one opportunity slip by.

On Jerricho Cotchery…

Well, I think any time a receiver coming out of college has broken Tory Holt's records in college, had a successful career in college, you know you have a really good receiver on your hand. In this league, normally it takes a good two or three years for a receiver to feel comfortable, really be very productive in the passing game. Jerricho has done an excellent job in his first three years. He keeps getting better and better. I remember when he was a rookie, he just keep making play after play in training camp. Now those types of plays have translated into the game. Now he's making big plays for us three years later in the game.

On Cotchery's performance against Green Bay…

I think it's more of the same of what he's been doing. Jerricho first opened people's eyes with the catch he made against New England. I've always had confidence in him. I've always believed in his ability. He's very consistent. He's consistent because he works very hard in practice. You get the same effort, the same tempo every route and every rep that he gets in practice. That translates to the game production.

On how the offense has improved to quick starts over the season…

I think one aspect would be our players, including myself, being more comfortable with our system. I think our dedication to the details, to the communication part of our offense has really helped out. It really boils down to execution. We've been able to execute a little bit better early in the game than we have earlier in the year. Now we're executing a little bit better earlier in the game, being able to get off to a quicker start, provide some points, field position for our defense.

On the complexity of the offense…

I think it does require a quarterback to really concentrate on his stuff. Sometimes as a quarterback, you watch so much film, you get caught up in what you're opponent is doing. With Brian's (Schottenheimer) system, he does such a great job in using all of our players in different positions, being very multiple, you have to really concentrate on your own game plan, what you're doing. If you don't understand what you're doing, you don't have a shot to even figure out what your opponent is doing. He's (Brian Schottenheimer) done a great job of that. We've worked really hard in the quarterback room to really concentrate on the fine details of what we're doing.

On being ranked 24th in offense and 27th in defense…

Well, I think we've won through the team concept. One week it's been the offense to step up, another week it's been the defense to step up, another week it's been special teams providing huge plays, whether it's scoring points or providing field position. What we've also done a really good job of is finishing games. That's what it's about in this league. It's really not how you start, but it's definitely how you finish. Even when you start slow, your stats are going to reflect not having good stats, but when you finish fast, finish well, it's going to reflect in the win column. That's the most important.

On the key to the offense…

I think the key to any offense is getting the ball in the hands of your play-makers. We obviously know who our play-makers are, the guys who have made our offense successful, put points on the board for us. That's the key, is to make sure you're providing your play-makers with opportunities to do good things for you, to make you be successful.

On league rules to protect the quarterback…

It's always tough because it's a judgment call. Any time you're talking about judgment calls, whether it's pass interference, late hits on the quarterback, horse collar, stuff like that, it's a judgment call. There's a fine line. Sometimes it goes to the extreme of one side, other times it's tilted toward the other side. Even a lot of times it has to do with the officials and the group of officials you're playing with. Some officials and some groups referee differently, judge things differently than other groups. It's that human element within the game that it's hard to really get a grasp on exactly what you're looking for sometimes.

On finding a middle ground between taking chances and decreasing mistakes…

It's always a struggle. Especially when it's your first time in a new system, you're going to experience some of those inconsistencies. For instance, in 2002 when the interceptions were down, it was my second year in the system. I had a year to sit back and watch Vinny (Testaverde) for a year and a half, to learn from what he was doing. This time the mistakes I'm learning, I'm learning from firsthand experience. Sometimes it hurts us, sometimes it helps us. It's one of those things you're working through the new system. What you try to do is try your best to be as consistent as possible. Any time you have a mistake, you learn from it, try not to repeat it. Once you get into the off-season, you can really study those things and see what you can do to get better in the system. Any time you put in a new system, to me that's always the number one concern, being able to eliminate as many mistakes as you can on game day because that's when it really hurts you. But sometimes when you make that throw, make that read, it may be one of the first times you've ever done that. It just so happens to be in a game. So it gets a little dicey sometimes.

Wednesday Injury ReportJets
Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), CB David Barrett (hip), LB Matt Chatham (foot), Eric Smith (foot) LB Bryan Thomas (shoulder) & S Rashad Washington (illness)
Probable:*RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *CB Andre Dyson (neck), *DE Shaun Ellis (ankle), *RB Cedric Houston (knee), DB *OL Pete Kendall (knee), *WR Justin McCareins (foot), *DL Rashad Moore (hand), *QB Chad Pennington (calf) & *WR Brad Smith (shoulder)

Bills Out: LB Angelo Crowell (fibula)
Questionable:LB John DiGiorgio (ankle), RB Willis McGahee (ankle) & CB Terrence McGee

*Denotes players who participated in practice

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