Tom Brady on D&C, 11/23
|11.23.09 at 11:37 am ET|
Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s 31-14 victory over the Jets. Following is a transcript. Hear the interview on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
[Asked about Wes Welker]
What a game he played. He never lets you down out there. He’s so consistent. For his size, to be as durable as he is, it’s pretty incredible. There’s only one Wes Welker.
What the M.O. in the morning? How does that checkpoint work on the morning after you’ve taken some hits?
It’s usually at nighttime when you’re laying in bed and you roll over to grab some water by your bed and you kind of reach for something, and, “Oh, I can’t really get to that one right now.” Wednesday, you’re still probably a little bit sore. Thursday, it’s better. And then Friday, you feel pretty good. I’m glad there’s seven days between games, I know that.
You don’t want to play on Thanksgiving?
The one thing I’d say about that that’s pretty nice is both teams are playing on that whatever, three- or four-day rest. If you’re able to win that game, and then to have 10 or 11 days until your next game, it’s almost like another bye.
Were [there] three painful episodes of the game?
There’s different ones. As a quarterback you kind of fall awkwardly at times. There’s guys that land on top of you and you’re holding the ball in an awkward position. I’m pretty Gumby-like. There’s not a lot of tight muscles on me. Whenever I do fall, very fortunately over the years I’ve been able to avoid a lot of those big ones like I see a lot of other guys take them. It’s just the normal bumps and bruises for this time of year for all of us. We’re all fighting through them. We’re going to need everybody this week, I know that.
Whose idea was it late in the game to call two quarterback sneaks for you before you handed it to [Laurence] Maroney and he waltzed into the end zone?
It’s kind of a situation where you’re down there so close, and we did it against Buffalo last year where we ran a couple of sneaks. And I don’t think coach Belichick really cared if I did it and got in or not. He just wanted to run that extra minute [and 20 seconds] off the clock and then able to give the ball to Laurence and let him run it in.
What did you see on the 43-yarder to Wes?
It looked like they were going to run an all-out blitz. And they didn’t end up running the blitz. Wes just was running down the middle of the field and threw his hand up in the air, and then I threw it and he made a nice catch and run.
What did you call him, the mailbox routine?
You know that little thing on the mailbox that goes up when the mail’s in. That’s what Wes’ little hand looks like when he flips it up. I wasn’t really expecting him to do it, which is why he throws that hand up in the air. And then I recognized that and was able to try to get it to him. I joked last night after the game, when you’re 5-foot-6, even when you put that hand up it’s hard to see you at times.
What makes him so exceptional?
Well, he’s the quickest guy on the field. He and Randy are two of the smartest receivers I’ve ever played with. They’re able to understand the route combinations and the different coverage adjustments that they get. And then the other thing about being in the slot, which is different than being on the outside part of the field, is you have the whole field to work with. As a slot receiver, you can really run to any point on the field: long outside, long inside, short inside, short outside, over the middle, short crosses, diagonals to the flat. As an outside receiver you really can’t do a lot. That’s why it’s also harder to play defense on the inside part of the field as a slot defender like a sub-nickel defensive back, because you really have to cover everything. Whenever you get those matchups with Wes inside on defensive backs that are typically the third defensive back that comes into the game, then you always feel like you have a great advantage. Wes has just been dominant over the last three years. He’s just been an incredible player for us. Not only that, but he takes care of himself so well — his body, and mentally he’s always ready to go out there and play. What you see on the game field is exactly what you see in practice. He’s so mentally tough. To come from where he’s come — basically an undrafted free agent that got cut by San Diego — it’s pretty unbelievable.
Is your motivation when you try to stretch the field and go to Randy deep vs. [Darrelle] Revis ever, even in small part, motivated by trying to make a point that Darrelle can’t cover Randy alone or is it always 100 percent of the time within the context of the game to either hit that play or open it up for Wes?
It definitely serves both of those purposes. If they give you an opportunity to throw it to Randy down the field, you’ve always got to take that opportunity. Because a lot of times the coverage is pushed his way, and you’ve got to throw to other guys. So, when he does get those chances, you’ve got to be able to hit him. Randy fought pretty hard all day. It was a very physical game out there between those two. There not really calling a lot of those illegal contact calls that they called last year where you’re contacting guys down the field. And that goes both ways, because I see [our defense] contacting their receivers downfield a lot. I know yesterday was a very physical game, and Revis is a physical corner, and Randy is a physical [receiver]. We made a few plays other there, I wish we would have made a few more, but the game was pretty well in hand after the first quarter.
But do you every do it to make a point, sort of like when you toasted Anthony Smith a couple of years ago from the Steelers just for running his mouth?
We were trying … Even with that Anthony Smith a few years ago, he just happened to be in those positions. You never know where he’s going to line up. He was just on the one end of it.
Do you every throw to Randy just to keep him involved or engaged?
Definitely, definitely. That’s another difference between Wes and Randy, in that Wes can pretty much get the ball against any coverage on any play. Randy needs to have the right play called against the right coverage for him to get the ball. That’s just the difference between an outside receiver and a slot receiver. It’s easy to get Wes the ball. At times it’s more challenging to get Randy the ball just because he’s farther away from the quarterback. We had him in the slot last week and we hit that long one down the middle to him against the Colts. That’s a good opportunity for him to get the ball. He’s always a threat out there. I think they complement each other so well.
What about on the touchdown to Randy? What do you see there?
We had a pretty good idea based on the coverage what was going to happen. Randy made a nice adjustment as the ball was snapped and I caught him and then theew hit on his low back leg so he could catch it and shield his body. It was a nice play. Revis didn’t have any help on that play. It was kind of a big, heavy run look. They had everyone stuffed in there. You’ve got to take advantage of that when you have it. Because rather than just pound it up in there to pretty much 10 guys near the line of scrimmage, Randy’s out there one-on-one.
Can you tell us what that means when you point both fingers to your helmet [before a play]?
A lot of times as an offense we’ll have “check with me” plays. You can call a run to the right and call a run to the left in the huddle. Or you can call a run play and then a pass play in the huddle. Or you can call a pass play, and you have a second pass play called in the huddle. Or you have a pass play that you change the protection if you see a certain look. A lot of times I point to my helmet, I let everyone know we’re going to change the play. The defense never knows if it’s a run, a pass or protection change. Some of the times we dummy the call even though you’re doing it, it doesn’t mean anything, you’re going with the play that was called anyway.
But your linemen can’t see you do that, can they?
No, but they can hear me.
When you’re sitting there with the assistant coach and the Polaroids … what specifically are you looking for?
Those pictures are taken right after the ball is snapped — as the ball is snapped, I start to drop back or hand the ball off. You get, basically, the defensive linemen, the defensive front. A lot of the times, when the defensive coordinators will write their game plans out, they’ll have certain calls. On the first play of a series, they’ll have what they want called against our four-wide receiver personnel group. Over the course of the game, you’ll chart, OK, on first down vs. four wide receivers, we’ve done it three times and they’ve been in this coverage three times, or they’ve been in a certain coverage two times and another coverage one time. If you call another four-wide play on first play of the series, you want to have a pretty good idea of what the coverage is going to be. … It’s a way to verify what I see and what the coaches in the booth see so we’re all on the same page.
Are you required to remember that, or does the assistant coach remember that?
The thing about football, we spend all week going over game plans and scouting reports. For example, the Jets are on average, let’s say, a 40 percent blitz team – on average, four out of every 10 snaps, they’re blitzing. In certain situations, it’s 70 percent, like second-and-7-to-10. So then, when you make that second-and-7-to-10 call, you think, “OK, we’re thinking pressure, we’re going to try to block them up a little bit. We’re going to keep seven in and try to get the ball out, or we’re going to take advantage of the blitz.” Well, the reality is, whether it’s 70 percent or 50 percent or 30 percent, none of it really matters when you’re thinking of an individual play. Over the course of 10 plays, that’s another thing. So I go into the game thinking I kind of know all their tendencies, but you still have to go in there with what you see. You can’t come off the sidelines after you get hit by a blitz and say, “Well, coach, they weren’t supposed to blitz there.” … There’s certain things that tip you off. In the end, you have to use your eyes and visually make the right calls, and fundamentally be in the best offensive protection scheme or run scheme based on the defense you’re facing.
[Mark] Sanchez was awful. Was it a matter of your defense confusing him?
I’d say this: Every quarterback who’s playing out there can do the job. Every quarterback playing on an NFL team has the arm strength – not that I think arm strength is that important. To me, what’s most important is decision-making and accuracy. If I’m looking for a quarterback, I’m looking for a guy who is going to make a good decision with the ball, and when he decides to throw the ball, he can throw it where he wants to throw it. If he’s got good arm strength or good fet or can avoid the rush or make plays on the run like Ben Roethlisberger, obviously, your level of intelligence, you need to be a sharp guy back there because things are changing quite a bit. There’s leadership aspects to quarterback. As a young quarterback, it’s tough, because everything you see is new. I remember when I was his age. Even the first few years, everything was new. Now, for me, everything is old. I’ve seen every coverage. I’ve seen every blitz. I’ve seen every team. I’ve seen every coach. I’ve seen every player. I’ve seen every play that we’ve run. I have a really good idea of what I’m looking for, how I’m going to attack it. That’s why, not that you’re going to make great plays all the time, but really, you can eliminate mistakes. Mistakes are what kill you in the NFL. You don’t lose a game and say, “We lost the game because of an incomplete pass.”
Should guys like Sanchez be left out there to learn the hard way?
I think the head coach is always going to do what’s in the best interest of the team, whether long-term or short-term. If your quarterback is struggling and you’re in a playoff race, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. If you’re looking for how are we going to be for next year or the year after, then you make those decisions. I don’t know what they’ll do. He played a great game against us in Week 2. He got off to a great start. It ebbs and flows. You’ve got to learn on the job. You’ve got to try to make those good decisions as a quarterback, lead the team, show confidence in the team, show enthusiasm, excitement. That’s what being a quarterback is all about.
Any significance to you with those [personal passing statistics] once you set aside winning?
I just always expect to do the very best that I can do out there. I think that’s what it is. Whether it’s 300 yards or 200 yards or 400 yards or six touchdowns or one touchdown, I think I just evaluate the way I play with the opportunities that were presented, how did I do with those opportunities? Sometimes a good play for the quarterback is taking a sack. Sometimes it’s throwing it away. You complete a ball down the field for 40 yards, but really, if you made a better throw, it would have been 70 yards. So, I don’t like to look at the results or the statistics. I like to look at how accurate was I with the football? What was my decision-making process? Why did I make that decision? How did I evaluate that during the week? Why did I make that decision on game day? Was it the right decision, was it the wrong decision? When I decided to throw the ball, why did I throw the ball? All of those things that really help you grow. If you get caught up in your yards per attempt, like a quarterback rating, that’s what basically that is … It’s never really going to tell the whole story.
Can you project what it must be like to be a member of a losing team?
I think that’s probably why it goes … I’ve said it probably 1,000 times, but the way the football season is, how important those games after Thanksgiving are. This is when it starts to get hard. It’s not hard in Week 2. It’s not hard in Week 5 when a team is 3-2, or 4-1 or 2-3. It starts getting hard right about now, when your body is really worn down. Mentally, you’ve been at it for over four months. Now, the playoff race is starting to sort itself out. What are the teams that are going to continue to bring that energy and enthusiasm and rise to the level every week, and what are the teams that are just going to pack it in? What are the mentally tough teams? We’ve always been a team that’s excelled later in the year because our coach trains us hard, and his expectations are really high. We always find a way to get better late in the year. I think we’ve always done a good job of playing well late in the year for those reasons, rather than some of those teams where it’s hard to win, it does get long and hard. You can see why some of those teams spiral down.
Would you rather play New Orleans at 1 o’clock on a Sunday, or do you get fired up about Monday night?
Sunday at 1, to me, is perfect. I love Sunday at 1. Monday Night Football, when you get to the game and start to play, it’s pretty cool. But Sunday at 1, that’s the best. You get home at 6 or 7 o’clock. You have all day Monday, all day Tuesday, and you can get prepared for the following week. But New Orleans, coach said after the game, this is probably going to be the best team we faced thuis far. The Colts obviously are a great team, but they’re probably right up there with the Colts — they’re undefeated, 10-0, great defense, they’re playing at home — they play well there, great quarterback, great coach, great running game. This will be fun for us. We need a big win on the road, I know that. We need a big win on the road. We’ve had three opportunities, and we’ve lost all three. So this will be a big one to get.
Is Wes Welker the best possession receiver you have ever played with or seen?
I don’t think there’s anybody better in the league right now. He’s leading league in receptions, in yards. That’s with missing two games. Last year, he had 112 catches. The year before that, he had 110. It’s hard to think he’s set every Patriots reception record. He’s an incredible player. Troy Brown to me, he was unbelievable. Troy was one of the smartest, most competitive guys I’ve ever been around. Wes is really making his mark and creating a legacy for himself. We’ve got to win the big games. That’s what we’re all looking forward to doing. But I tell you, Wes has been a huge addition. He brings not only his physical ability out there, what he can do for a team, but also his leadership and toughness, which for me far exceeds what he does in terms of route-running and catching the ball. He’s an exceptional talent, an exceptional teammate. Hopefully, we’re playing together for a long time.
Did you take more grief about the baby goat shot or the ironing shot in GQ in the locker room?
It’s still the goat. [Dan] Koppen kills me with the goat. Whenever I do something, they go straight to that.
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