Down the Stretch with John Wendling

Buffalo's special teams ace spoke with the BFR this week about the team's approach heading into these final four games. Wendling discusses the team's rash of injuries, Perry Fewell, what went wrong in Toronto and more...

BFR: With playoff hopes gone and the future uncertain, what does your team have to play for in these final four games?

John Wendling: I think it's about playing for pride and playing for ourselves. We still have four games left with a game against Kansas City this weekend. We don't want to do anything else but try to win. It hasn't gone the way we wanted but all we can control is what's in front of us. All the guys on this team are very competitive. Every week, you're going out there to compete and win. This won't be any different than any other week.

BFR: What was the biggest difference between the uplifting win against Miami and the loss against the Jets?

Wendling: I can't pinpoint one thing. Give credit to the Jets. They were ready with the quick turnaround more than we were. They handled that much better. It's something you can't put your finger on. There were several things you wish you could change. It was a great opportunity there, especially with what happened in the division. But you can't look back on those things. You need to worry about what you can do this week.

BFR: Have you ever been around a team that has been hit this hard by injuries?

Wendling: My rookie year, we lost Kevin Everett the first game and it just seemed like we lost a lot of guys. But even this year, it's been worse. It has been unfortunate really. But, yeah, I've never been around that.

BFR: Is there any reason for it or are they just fluke things snowballing?

Wendling: Yeah, it's not just the same injury. If you look at the injuries themselves and how they've happened, it has just been unfortunate really. My heart goes out to the guys that have sustained those. I hope that all goes well. And I hope that with four games left, we can keep guys healthy and finish the season on a good note.

Buffalo has been nailed by injuries this season.
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BFR: Any word on how Eric (Wood) is holding up?

Wendling: I've seen him in the training room. It looks like he's coming along. I think it will be a slow process but he looks pretty good. It's just tough getting around right now. Seems like he's getting along pretty well.

BFR: Speaking of injuries, your group in the secondary has been hit hard but when you look at the numbers, you're ranked fourth against the pass in the NFL. How has that happened?

Wendling: A lot of it is our front seven. They're playing well up there. Our defensive line is getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. And a lot of it is that we have a lot of smart guys in our room. We take it very serious and put in a lot of extra film work. We make sure everybody is prepared and on the same basis. It's a close group and I'm just fortunate enough to be a part of it. No matter how tough it's gotten, they've been in there doing the same thing every week to prepare for the game.

BFR: What has changed under Perry Fewell as head coach?

Wendling: There haven't been a ton of changes because it was a middle-of-the-season type of thing. I have all the respect for Coach (Dick) Jauron and I know almost everyone on this team enjoyed playing for him. Coach Fewell has come in and carried on an attitude that ‘we're gonna win.' He has kept it very disciplined and there's a sense of urgency in the organization.

BFR: How much are you guys talking about setting a tone for next season?

Wendling: Definitely. Guys want to compete. You want to end the season on a good note. Going into the offseason, everything sets the tempo for all that. By finishing the season the way we know we can — starting with getting KC this weekend — it can do a lot for that offseason work going into next season.

BFR: What are some of your personal goals over these final four games?

Wendling: Finish strong on special teams. We have a good group and we've been having a pretty strong season. We want to finish on a good note. Also, to do well with my role as a backup safety. Really, I just don't want to level off or anything. Need to keep at an increased level and not see anything slip.

BFR: Any chance you'll get some more looks on defense>

Wendling: You prepare every week like you're going to get a shot. Right now guys are playing well and hopefully they stay healthy. You just never know. It's something you have to prepare for every week.

BFR: Did you expect Jairus Byrd to do what he's doing as a rookie?

Jairus Byrd has spearheaded Buffalo's fourth-ranked pass defense.
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Wendling: He came in kind of late (with injury) but he is a phenomenal athlete and just has a nose for the ball. You knew he was going to do some great things but, man, to get off to a start like that? I don't think anybody could have guessed that.

BFR: To finish up, are you looking at these last four games as an opportunity then?

Wendling: It definitely is. We have young guys in there getting a lot of experience. It's just an attitude to say, "we're a football team that must be taken seriously and we're going out to win."




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