Q: Does it feel like the season has moved by slowly?
MATT CASSEL: “Not at all. It’s gone by quickly. I can’t believe it’s already the final week. It’s crazy.”
Q: What can you take from the last time you played Denver that will help you try to win this weekend?
CASSEL: “Well, you know, they’re a good team and they’re a good defense and they play great pass defense. The last time we played them, we went into halftime and it was 14-6 and then really, we got into the third quarter and it started to have a snowball effect. It was one bad play after another and in order to stay in that game, we needed to eliminate the bad plays and we weren’t able to do that. I think our focus this week is to take care of the ball and do more of what we did in the first half, which was take care of the ball, sustain some drives and try to put some points on the board.”
Q: How badly do you want to knock them out of the playoffs?
CASSEL: “Well, they’re our division rivals, you know. Anytime you can beat a division rival, it’s a big game when you’re playing a team like Denver. Not only that, it’s the start of a new year, and to get started on the right track this year would be big for our team and this organization.”
Q: What does this point of the season represent to you and the other players? Is it a point where you are turning the page, is the rebuilding project continuing, how do you view the end of the season?
CASSEL: “Well, it’s nearly the end, but it’s definitely not over. I think this team’s had two great days of practice, we’re super focused; we know what this game does mean to us and this organization as we move forward and as we go into the off-season. Everybody’s treating this like a playoff game for us and we’re going in there anticipating a battle and we’ll be ready to go.”
Q: I wouldn’t ask you to look past this game, but looking to the future, is this a chance to say that step one is sort of complete, the guys know each other, the coaches know each other and the players more and that this difficult year and the transition that came with it is going to be behind you soon?
CASSEL: “To be completely honest with you, I haven’t put any thought into that part yet. I’m sure once we get to the off-season, once we’re there, we’ll have a lot of reflection back on this season and we’ll be able to put it in perspective and really be able to dissect where we need to get better at. But right now, our main focus and our only focus is the Denver Broncos.”
Q: What are the things that you’re going to remember from these previous 12 months through all the change that’s happened? What will you remember or take away?
CASSEL: “You know, it’s just an ongoing process and there has been a lot of change. I take a lot from this season, there’s been a lot of different adversity that’s come my way but I battled through it and I think as I move forward as the quarterback of this team, I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve grown a lot as a player because of that.”
Q: What have you learned about yourself?
CASSEL: “Just to fight through adversity. A lot of things are going to be thrown your way and there are going to be a lot of changes that are made around you but you have to keep fighting forward and you’ve got to keep pressing and you’ll come out on top most of the time.”
Q: Did you expect this year to be as hard as it was?
CASSEL: “When you come here, you never can anticipate what’s going to happen and you never know what’s going to happen. Obviously, we didn’t want to be 3-12 at this point, but at the same time, as we’ve battled through it, it was football. You just keep going from one weekend to the next and you just try to keep getting better.”
Q: Do you think winning is a habit?
CASSEL: “I definitely think it’s a habit and I definitely think it’s a culture, there’s a culture to winning. I’ve been around a lot of successful teams and I think once you have people buy in and you start to win some ballgames it becomes contagious.”
Q: Considering your college and professional background, how tough has it been to stomach 12 losses this season?
CASSEL: “It’s been tough. Obviously, you want to come in here and have a lot of success and the fact that we haven’t been able to do that is disappointing. But then again, like I said, we’re going to try to move forward, this is the start of a new year and Denver’s our first opponent of the new year.”
Q: Is losing a habit as well?
CASSEL: “I don’t know that. I can’t answer that question, honestly.”
Q: When did you realize that this would be tougher than a lot of people had hoped and that it was going to be a tough road this year, despite the optimism at the start of the season?
CASSEL: “As you’re going through it you don’t really think about it. You just go from one week to the next, you’re on to your next opponent, you’re trying to figure out how to beat that opponent and the last thing you think about is, ‘Gosh, this season’s really, really been difficult, and this has really been hard on me.’ You just go out, do your job and you try to do it to the best of your ability and at the end of the day, hopefully you’re winning ball games. We haven’t been able to do that, but at the same time, when you’re going through it, the last thing you think about is ‘Gosh, it’s so tough, it’s so difficult.’ You just go out and you do your job because that’s what we’re here to do.”
Q: Have you given much thought to your off-season schedule?
CASSEL: “No, I mean, I’m constantly working or watching film or doing something like that. I’m one of those people that just has to work out, I can’t sit around and do nothing. Depending on how I feel or how my body feels, I’ll just keep on moving along in the off-season, but there’s no set times right now.”
Q: So you’ll be watching a lot of film in the off-season?
CASSEL: “Uh huh. There’s no doubt.”
Q: How does your body feel?
CASSEL: “Great. Ready to go.”
CASSEL: “Oh, I feel fine. My body’s been holding up well and I’ll be ready to go Sunday.”