Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Q. Is it hard for you to believe that by the end of this year, you will have been a Giant just as long as you were a Jet? Does that make sense to you at all? Do you feel like you spent an equal amount of time with both teams?
A: I think I'll forever be grateful to the Jets for giving me my first opportunity in the NFL by drafting me there, but I've been with the Giants so long now that the Jets almost feel pretty distant to me at this point. Like when I see the Jets on the schedule, it's not like something I'm like 'woah, I used to play there' you know? I kind of just see them as another opponent on the schedule at this point. But I guess like around this time when we finally have them up this week is when I started to get messages from old teammates and stuff like that, that bring it up, but I forget about it until those moments. But you know it's always exciting to play in this game.
Q. What did this game mean to the Jets? You probably know more than anybody what this game means to the Jets and now what it means to the Giants.
A: Honestly, throughout my career, no matter what coach I played for, they try to let you know that it's a big game to the people of New York and the fans of both teams, but at the same time it would be good of the team to treat it like a regular week. Just like every game, we don't want to get too high or too low, after a win or after a loss, or leading up to a game, even. We never like to try to get too high or too low. As far as players and coaches, I think we try to treat it as a regular game and prepare the same way we would.
Q. How would you describe the rivalry to somebody, let's say they are from outside the area, they don't know anything about the Giants or Jets, how would you describe the rivalry to them?
A: I mean, I think it's a big one because it's two New York teams. We also play in the same stadium. I think for the fans, they love to see it. This area is known for the blue-collar type of people, so it's a gritty, type of old-school football per se. I think fans love to see it.
Q. You obviously have been in both places a decent amount of time now, what to you is the biggest difference being with the Giants compared to being with the Jets?
A: That's a good question. I think there would be a big difference in any organization you go to. From the top down, there is a whole different staff of people, but I really appreciated my time in both places, I think at this point I have grown to love the Giants longer, I've been here longer, and I think I love the tradition here a little bit more.
Q. We talked last week about how it felt like that was a game the defensive line could really assert itself, it certainly looked like you guys did that. Do you feel like you did that and can you guys do that now going forward? Do you feel like that's the standard for you, (defensive lineman) Dex(ter Lawrence II), (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux), all those guys to play at now going forward now that you've shown you can dominate a game?
A: Yeah, I mean I feel like leading up to the game, just from what we've seen on film, teams getting after them on defense against their offense in terms of like sacks and pressures and things like that and I think as a whole front we saw that as an opportunity to step up those sack numbers or get to the quarterback. I think we did a good job of that. I think the coaches did a good job of putting everybody in position for that and we made it happen as players. I think going forward that gives the defense confidence in those areas. Whenever you thrive in a certain area in any game, it kind of shows the team that you can do it, so you want to keep doing it more and I think it's definitely given our front and rush some juice going forward.
Q. Only a couple of weeks ago, we were asking why is the defense struggling, why are you guys missing so many tackles, and I know things change quickly in this league, why do you think you've gone from that, I guess that was probably Week 3 or 4 to three weeks later, dominating? Is that guys just needing time to gel? It's not that many different faces under (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale). Why did it take maybe this long to get the defense to gel or is there an actual schematic change you can point to or an attitude change that made a big difference between there and now?
A: I think there are quite a few factors. We have a young team, there are some rookies that are starting on the team that have to get adjusted to the speed of the game, like where their teammates are going to be on certain plays, all these adjustments. It's players from different systems, whether they are older or younger, they are coming into a new system and have to develop new ways of playing with each other. There are different ways people play with their front and backers, how they fit off of each other, and things like that. Throughout the beginning of the season when we knew we were struggling in those areas, we tried to harness in and correct those areas of the defense and I think we have such a good brotherhood on the defense that we really take pride in doing our job for the man next to us and when it's something that we focus on and harp on, I think everybody takes pride on in fixing it.
Q. I know you don't play against the Jets' defense; you play against their offense. Two things, do you look at it as a measuring stick, they have a great defense, and you have a great defense, do you consider it, like we have to out-defend their defense? They are really outspoken about they want to be a historic defense, like the Legion of Boom or the '85 Bears. You guys don't usually say stuff like that, do you consider that a measuring stick, I guess?
A: I've never looked at it as a measuring stick, but I think they do have a good defense, but at the same time, just like I said about this brotherhood of defense, taking pride in what we do for the guy next to us, I think we also take pride in wanting to be the best defense anytime we step on the field, no matter what team it's against. We want to be the best defense and we are competing against their offense of course, but we are also competing against the whole field, so I think we take pride, and we will continue to be that way.
Q. With your backs to the wall in the same end zone, two plays, obviously the field goal block, is there something that you saw on film coming in that you thought a block was possible? How did it play out in your eyes?
A: I think Coach T-Mac (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey) does a good job of showing us where the holes are on our field goal protection for our defense and in that situation, a lot of times I'm on the backside of the block, and in this particular situation, he called a call where I was a part of the block on this one and I just knew that we let the offense drive a little bit and I just remember getting in my stance next to Nacho (defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) and Nacho is like loading up, and I'm like, hey, this could be a huge play right here, like let's get this block, this could be it right here. I think he didn't look at me or say anything, but I could just tell by the way he was screwing his cleats in that he was ready to get off the ball and I think he did a great job of getting off the ball and driving and it allowed me to use that drive to get a little bit of penetration and get my hand up. It was great teamwork honestly and great communication, I think we spoke it into existence a little bit.
Q. Just to ask you about the goal line stand obviously on the last play that was incomplete. (Inside linebacker) Bobby O(kereke) said yesterday that the message in the huddle, as it always is with Wink's defense, is attack, that you guys were not going to lay back, you were going to attack. What kind of confidence does this show in this defense at every level to know that in that situation it's basically zero and go after it and see whatever happens in the end?
A: I honestly love that mindset. As a defender, we like to be known as hunters and people who get after it, and we are like a pack. To instill that mindset in a defense and have that as a group, really creates a nasty mentality. One thing Wink always says a lot that I love is he says, 'We always hold the pen last' and I like that because even if offenses are audibling or checking or motioning or anything like that, we feel like we have the pen last and we are going to make them do what we want them to do and I like that mindset, it's fun.