Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Q: You could theoretically clinch a playoff spot this weekend. You've never been in the playoffs, what would that mean to you?
A: It means a lot to me. I'm in year eight, it's obviously been a long time in the league to not go to the playoffs. That's been a very tough part of my career and it would mean a lot to me to be able to go with these guys that I've been grinding with for the last few years. I've seen a lot of these guys here; I know a lot of these guys here now pretty well. It'd mean a lot for me, and also a lot for me to see them go as well.
Q: You've had exposure to how far this franchise has come. When you were traded, it maybe was one of the worst teams in league. Can you reflect on that and just the journey of that?
A: Yeah, that's what I mean. It's more special to go to the playoffs after you've been on a team like that. I've never been a fan of wanting to be a vet and jump to a team that are Super Bowl contenders, almost like bandwagon jumping type of thing. It wouldn't feel as good to me. Being on a team like this where I've seen the ups and downs and I've known these guys pretty well, I know how much of a struggle we've been going through and stuff like that. So, to be able to go with a team like that means a lot more to me.
Q: It sounds ridiculous but when you're on losing teams people start questioning, 'Do these guys really want to win?' or, 'How badly do they want to win?' For you, and your hunger for winning, how strong is that?
A: To be honest it increases even more when you've been losing so much. It's almost like sometimes I feel like you get more comfortable on a winning team because you're so used to winning that it's almost like you feel like it might be the program or the coaches or whatever the case may be, that's the reason for winning. So, you can kind of be a little more comfortable and relaxed as a player. Whereas we've been losing so we put so much pressure on us, like we have to do this, we have to do this, to get out of this gutter, to get out of this hole, and to be playoff contenders one day. Fortunately, it looks like we're going to be able to have a chance and we've got to just make sure we finish the season strong.
Q: I assume you weren't 100 percent the other day. How are you feeling and how did you play as many snaps as you did as hurt as you were?
A: I'm not 100 percent, definitely was banged up a little bit. I feel like that's the majority of the league right now and that's what we harp on a lot. About it being December football, we know how much of a tough person and player you have to be to keep going near the end of the season like this, because the majority of the league is banged up. It's not an excuse, it's not anything like that. If I'm on the field…
Q: It's new for you because you had never missed a game. I know you've played banged up before, but you had never missed a game which I'm sure made this season feel a little different.
A: Yeah, it definitely felt a little different. This is my first time ever being on the sideline while I'm seeing guys in pads on the field. It's definitely a weird experience, but I've been dealing with it, I've been managing it. Everybody has adversity at times and that's been something I've been dealing with this year and I'm trying to make the best of my situation.
Q: A week ago everybody was wondering if this team could get back up after the loss to Philly. Now it's how high did you get and make sure that you're steady. Is that just kind of an example of this league and this time of the year when you have something playing for?
A: I think it's also an example of why (head coach Brian Daboll) Coach Dabs tells us to keep it in here. That's all outside noise. It's an outside noise thing to say, 'Are they going to be able to come off of this loss?' or, 'Are they getting too high after a win?' When really, we know that we're keeping the same exact routine every week. We're staying right here, and we hear a lot of outside stuff, but we try to keep it the same inside all the time. Granted there is obviously, you feel better after a win, and you feel down after loss, but we try to wash it and move on.
Q: You've mentioned how it's been a whole eight-year career without making the playoffs but it's been a whole eight year career in New York, which is a very hard place to lose because the fans can be difficult. What's it been like to play in New York when you win?
A: That's been crazy. Half of my career has been on two different New York teams and haven't been to the playoffs. I think about that sometimes, winning a championship in New York and picturing a parade in the city and stuff like that. I can't imagine how that would be. Right now, I'm just trying to live in the moment.
Q: Has it been cool to win in New York this year?
A: Yeah, it has been cool. I think because I've been on the downside of it, the losing side of it, and now being on the upside of it I can definitely see the difference in the way the city treats you. It's cool, but at the same time as much as you don't like it when they talk bad about you it's kind of hard to accept it when they start praising you. You know just as much as they praise, they can easily turn on you. At the same time, I just try to pay attention to my guys in here.
Q: How exciting is it for you that you're so close to potentially playing in your first playoff game?
A: Yeah, that's what I was just saying. I'm super excited.
Q: I'm sorry, I'm late.
A: No worries. I'm on my eighth year, been a long time in the league, coming off a double-digit year soon and this might be my first chance of going to the playoffs which is pretty crazy. That's something every player looks forward to as a player, going to the playoffs and having a chance for the championship. Eight years in New York I haven't really an opportunity to do that until now, and we've got to just make sure we finish the season strong for that.
Q: You had your chance your rookie year, right?
A: Yeah, we lost to Buffalo. We were 10-6 that year with the Jets and the last game of the season we lost to Buffalo. That was the closest I've gotten to going to the playoffs.
Q: So that was probably the biggest game you've played in until Sunday. Did Sunday feel like what you'd imagine a playoff game feel like?
A: Yeah exactly. We tried to say that it wasn't a playoff game because obviously it wasn't. Whether we won or lost we were going to have games after, but at the same time it definitely felt like it. The atmosphere felt like it, the way the teams were playing, and we knew how much was at stake. Even though we say it wasn't a playoff game it definitely felt like one.