To say this season failed to pan out for the Jets is more than an understatement. One of the players whose season went awry with failed expectations is Laveranues Coles. During last off-season, the Jets and Redskins swapped Coles for speedster Santana Moss in what looked like a hoodwinking.
Too bad the Jets were the ones seemingly duped. Moss made the Pro Bowl and helped guide the Redskins to the playoffs.
Coles, meanwhile, in addition to losing a step, was without Chad Pennington. The two had more chemistry than a pitcher and catcher in 2002, which is why Pennington lobbied to bring Coles back. However, Penningtonís injury was merely one bombshell in this ruined season. Coles spoke with Jets Insider.comís James J. Parziale recently about coping with the disappointment.
JI: How difficult was this season considering the expectations this team had?
COLES: ďWhen you start talking about numbers you want to have personal goals. From the standpoint of a team I think the ways these pulled together just says a lot about them. Anytime youíre winning itís easy to go out be happy-go-lucky and work hard.
We were losing and these guys still went out and practiced like we were 0-0. Itís a testament to the character of the guys we have here and the way our guys prepare ourselves and the way the coaches prepared us. These guys are some of the best guys Iíve been around and Iím happy to be a part of it."
JI: What your thoughts on the team likely wanting to bring in a speedy wide receiver to help you and Justin McCareins next season?
COLES: ďIf thatís what the coaches feel will make us a better team then thatís fine. I just come to work and try and fit in anyway possible. More speed on offense can only help us be more explosive.Ē
JI: Do you think you could be that speed guy even though your yards-per-catch arenít as high as in the past?
COLES: ďWell, like I said I donít ever get in the schematics of things and what type of person I can be. Everybody on this team has a role. All I know is that I go out and try to what they ask me to do. When it comes to trying to be different, I donít know. What I do know is that Jerricho Cotchery and Justin McCareins have been great. Working with those guys week in and week out, Iím elated to have them on my side.
JI: Do you wonder about what could have been if you stayed with the Redskins, who obviously had a great season this year?
COLES: ďTo be honest Iím happy where Iím at. There are a lot of things I wouldnít trade for piece of mind, which is what I have right now. Iím comfortable here. I know our record this season didnít reflect that my return had high expectations, but I am comfortable and I am happy. Wins and all that donít give you the biggest piece of mind. Itís easy for guys to go out and have great practices when youíre winning, but donít have a great record or a chance to go to the playoffs but you wouldnít be able to tell by watching a practice.Ē
JI: So what youíre saying is that this is the best situation for you in the long term.
COLES: ďAbsolutely. This is the best situation. I love being a NY Jet. I never wanted to leave the first time.Ē
JI: Even though this season has been hard?
COLES: ďAgain, the guys are whatís important. Everybody measures everything by wins and losses. Iíve had an opportunity to mature in this game. In the beginning of my career thatís what I measured it by. Now Iíve had an opportunity to mature.
JI: Does it bother you when people say the Redskins got the better of the trade because Santana Moss had such a great year?
COLES: ďIt doesnít bother me one bit because the same people said the same thing when I left [for Washington]. So whatís that say about them? What do they know?Ē
JI: It was reported that one of the things that bothered you about Washington was the play-calling. Was it too conservative?
COLES: ďThereís a lot of things that go into it. Whatís important is me being mentally happy and excited about being where Iím at here in NY.Ē
JI: Do you think Washington played differently and more aggressively this past year compared to last?
COLES: ďI didn't really get a chance to watch, but obviously Santana had an excellent year. I said that the time I left here [after the 2002 season] that he was going to be a special player. Heís always been a special player since the time he walked through the door. Itís just a matter of time before he exploded. Iím happy for him and Iím proud of him.Ē
JI: As close as you are with Chad (Pennington) what type of response do you expect from him when he returns from his injury?
COLES: ďChad will always be great. Chad is great now. My mind will never change about that. I just think that Chad has been put in a situation to where he knows he has to take time to get back perfectly. Now, I think heís had that time and I think when Chad comes back; I think you all will be very happy and will be writing great things about him.Ē
JI: What will Chad have to do to prove naysayers wrong?
COLES: ďI donít think he has anything to prove. Chad has shown that he can play in this League and thatís the most important thing. This is not a game you have to prove anybody wrong, you have to go out and compete. Anytime you go out, at this level, compete and put together the type years Chad has put together, thereís nothing left for him to prove to anybody. Heís shown that he can play and thatís whatís important.Ē