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Tom Brady on D&C

01.11.10 at 10:38 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his final weekly appearance of the season on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s playoff loss to the Ravens. A transcript follows. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Can you describe the feeling of waking up this morning and for the first time in seven months no meetings, no practice, no football?

Not a lot of us probably got a whole lot of sleep last night. It’s obviously a disappointing way to end the season for all of us. Anytime it ends, it’s tough to swallow. And certainly the way we played yesterday, no one likes to go out like that. It’s just one of those days where we didn’t put our best out there. If you’re going to beat the good teams, you’ve got to play well. We just didn’t.

What is it [with your injuries]?

I don’t think that was that reason. I don’t think any of those injuries were the reason for any of it. Like I said after the game, “You either play or you don’t play.” To sit here and play, and you don’t have a good game, and you blame all the things that are bothering you, to me, that’s not real mental toughness. I was able to play, and I felt great. … The turnovers hurt us, as they always do. Those are inexcusable. We’ve got to find a way to do a better job with that. You play good teams, you can’t give them extra opportunities and short fields, and so forth. That’s something that we’ve been always very good at in the postseason. It’s pretty easy to see when you don’t do very well with those things, you’re not going to have a very long postseason. You hate to have it end that way. We put a lot of work into it, we expected some really great things this postseason. We just didn’t get the job done.

Was there ever a point this year where you considered because of your physical condition not starting, taking a week off?

No, I don’t think that ever crossed my mind. I don’t think that crosses any of our players’ minds. You’ve got to be out there to help the team win. And you’ve got to give everything you have. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we train hard. That’s why you’ve got to challenge yourself in the offseason to overcome the mental adversity you may face. You’ve got to push yourself to the point where you don’t think you can go much further, and then you go further and you overcome it. That’s part of what the offseason training is about. That’s part of being an athlete.. We have a lot of tough guys on our team and a lot of great competitors, which is why we were in the postseason, why we were the third seed. It all comes down to one game yesterday, and we didn’t play good.

Did you think before you took the field yesterday that this team had what it took to go all the way?

Of course I did. Yeah. We had played the Colts, who are the 1 seed, and we all really felt that game, we were up by 13 points with four minutes left — I don’t think any of us felt, “Man, hope we don’t play the Colts again.” We played pretty good against the Colts, too. We had a good game, aside from the last four minutes of the game. We felt like we could do some real positive things here. We played pretty well down the stretch. We played Baltimore pretty well the first time we played them. Yesterday, we just never really got on track. We could never really get into our game plan, because of the turnovers we were down so much so early.

Did the Ray Rice 83-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game put the team in that collective funk or was there going to be a bad ballgame for New England even if you had forced a three-and-out on that possession?

I think plays like that — they have a great running back, he’s one of the best in the league. He’s going to make plays like that. He’s a great player. I think offensively, it’s our responsibility to go out there and answer that  to go out there and answer their score with our own score, to make it a 7-7 game. Instead, we had the strip sack and they score again. Then we had another turnover and they score again. It doesn’t help our defense out at all when you just give them ball like we did. There’s not one play you point to in the game and say, “That’s the one.” There were a lot of plays that we would have needed to make to get ourselves in the game, to do better. We just never got off to such a slow start. If you get off to a slow start like that, you’re down 21-0, you pretty much have to be flawless the rest of the game. We still made errors in other parts of the game, and that’s why the outcome was what it was. We couldn’t sustain anything over the course of the game. We couldn’t ever really make it a ballgame.

Ray Lewis was watching you on TV and from that figured out your audibles. Do you buy that?

I don’t know. He may have had a key. We have certain keys, also. None of that at the end of the day makes a whole lot of difference in what we’re going. I don’t know what to say. You’ve got to call the cadence on TV, and they have the microphones two inches from your face, so of course they’re going to have the audio, but every team in the league has the audio. He’s a damn good player, and he uses whatever he can find to his advantage, and he played a great game yesterday. He’s been a great player in the NFL for a long time. That’s one of the guys that we really wanted to kind of neutralize, if you can neutralize a guy like that. He still made plenty of plays in there, plays that he needed to make.

Are you convinced that [Randy Moss] was giving his all every time a play was run?

I have a lot of trust and confidence in Randy. Every team in the league really game-plans around him. There wasn’t many opportunities for him yesterday where they didn’t have a safety high over the top of him. Sure, we throw it to him for those more shorter, intermediate completions. But he becomes a threat when he’s able to get down the field. By their game plan, they weren’t really going to let him down the field. That’s good defense by them. They’re a good defense, and we’ve got to find other ways to get him the ball and get other guys down the field. That’s part of what our offense needs to do in order to get the ball in the end zone. Randy, he has a lot of heart for the game, he loves playing the game, he’s a very hard-worker, and he’s someone I’ve always relied on. We have a great relationship. Like I’ve said, it doesn’t always tell the story when you get two or three clips on the NFL channel and a bunch of people analyze this particular play or that particular play when they really don’t know the whole story. I really love being with Randy, he’s one of the team leaders on the team. We all as leaders need to have a great offseason and make the improvements that we need to make and come back with a greater resolve than we had this season, and take the lessons we learned from this season and move forward with a better understanding of what it takes to get to where we need to be. At times this year, we did some really good things, we were really in synch. At other times we were very disjointed, we just could never really get on the same page. It shouldn’t be as tough as we made it at times offensively. We’ve got to find ways to correct that.

Was the locker room commitment the same as it was during dynasty years? With the losses of [Rodney] Harrison, [Tedy] Bruschi, [Richard] Seymour and [Mike] Vrabel, did the culture of the locker room change? When you have four guys showing up late for practice, wasn’t that the role those players took to police that sort of activity? Does the culture of the Patriot Way still exist?

We’ve all thought about that. Guys like Tedy and Rodney and Mike and Larry Izzo and Richard, they don’t come around very often. It’s not like those guys are just available in free agency every year. Those are special players and special guys.

It’s not the Patriots uniform that makes the team play the Patriot Way that you refer to. It’s the coaches and the players all working collectively to the same goal. Any time you lose players like that, there is a loss. You lose a guy like Rodney, he would practice defensively, then he would come over and practice against the offense to give us a scout team look, and he would play a position that was different than safety — it was corner sometimes, sometimes it was the sub defender, the guy who was the slot — to work on his skills.

Those were exceptional players, big reasons why we were successful over the years. When you lose those guys, it gives other players opportunities, other players that are new to the system or players who had been here for a few years and watched those guys to try and grow into that role. Whether that’s a guy like Jerod Mayo or Sam Aiken, other guys who were elected captains.

You can’t sit here and say Rodney Harrison’s replaceable. There’s no way. But other guys have to step in, fill those shoes. Guys who were here with those types of players have to take those lessons, learn from them, and use those and apply those to what was happening this season.

I know it’s a long-winded answer. The reality is that obviously the leadership on our team wasn’t where it needed to be. I speak for myself — I’m one of those leaders who certainly needs to do a better job getting everyone on the same page and fill the void left by those key players.

You said the team sometimes didn’t fight hard enough. Did you feel that way yesterday? And as the season ends, does that apply to the whole season?

I think that in order to be a great team, there has to be that commitment over the course of the year — not just during games. The games are easy. Whatever coach asks us to do, that’s what we need to be willing to do. He has a great feel, being around him as long as I have, coach Belichick, he understands when we’re ready to play. He understands when he feels like we’re going through the motions. He aways says, “Don’t confuse activity for achievement.”

Coach Belichick always has kind of the pulse of the team. He knows when we’re ready to play. He knows when he feels like we haven’t prepared the way we need to prepare. Part of that mental toughness, that commitment, is doing whatever he asks us to do to be prepared to play. I know that at times he was frustrated by that. I know that we, as leaders on the team, tried to communicate that message to everybody. We obviously didn’t do a very good job of that. It’s something that moving forward, in 2010, we need to do a better job of.  None of us feels like being a very mediocre team. At times we played much better than mediocre. At times, we played just that.

Did you and Belichick know on Sunday at 1pm that the team wasn’t prepared?

I know he didn’t feel like Thursday we had a very good day of practice. He was really kind of pissed off about the way we practiced on Thursday. A lot of times, you have a really bad practice during the week and you overcome it. Some days, you don’t overcome it. Some days you have a really bad first quarter and you overcome it, and other days you don’t. That margin of error becomes a lot less when you don’t perform the way you need to perform during the week.

We’ve had plenty of bad practices. I’m not saying that’s why you lose the game. Coach, like he always does, he has a great pulse for what’s going on. I always feel we’re the best-coached team in the league. Nobody is more prepared as a team than we are. The way he coaches us, the way we watch film, there’s a great level of preparation. I just think that yesterday, when it comes down to it, we ust didn’t play well.

Are you comfortable with the play-calling system and how plays are communicated to you on the field?

I don’t think it has anything to do with plays. We have damn good plays. It’s certainly not that. It’s playing. It’s executing the plays. No one draws up a play to say, “When they’re covered, throw it to the defense.” You’ve got to throw the ball away. Sometimes, there are times when you have to take a sack instead of throwing a ball that becomes an interception.

That’s the accountability we have as players. That’s the accountability I have as quarterback. That needs to be better next year, because it wasn’t good this year. It’s never going to be good enough. We’ve got to do a better job of playing. For me, I have to do a better job of playing. I have a lot of confidence.

The positive that I take is that I have another opportunity to do it next year. I woke up this morning, my body feels really healthy and strong. I’m very fortunate that I’ll have a chance to redeem myself and our team can redeem itself. This is obviously not the last game I’ll ever play. I’ll play many more years after this.

Forget next year — aren’t you excited about the Pro Bowl?

Oh, man. I’m sure we’ll come up with something.

How much different will this team be next year?

I’m sure it will be quite a bit different. Like there always is, there’s usually always a lot of moving parts and moving pieces. Guys get opportunities with other places, other coaches, certainly players. The reality of the league at this point, the season we’re moving into, with 2010 an uncapped year, there are a lot of really interesting rules coming into play starting March 1st. I’ve learned a lot about them as a union rep. It’s really an interesting time in the league. I don’t really think anyone knows what direction it’s heading. Hopefully our goals as players and owners are mutually aligned. We love the game. The owners, they love the game. They support the players, and we, the players, support the owners.

We all want the best for the league moving forward, collectively. We’ve got one year left in our labor agreement. I think there’s going to be a lot of interesting moves by teams this offseason because it’s a very different season. Based on a normal offseason, based on the circumstances of this offseason, I can see a lot of kind of unique things happening.

Has your commitment to the game — first to arrive at the facility, last to leave, earning the parking spot — become harder to maintain?

The guys who really know that answer are the guys that I play with. I love the game and I love playing and I love working hard for it. For me, there’s not a lot of things going on in my life, as funny as that sounds, other than my career and my family. Hopefully, because I got married, that doesn’t affect that way I play quarterback. That’s not something that I’ve thought much about and said, ‘My performance as a football player is really going to go down because I got married or I’ve had children. I think my life is very focused and prioritized on the things that are important to me, and that’s obviously my family and my football career. There’s not really a whole lot of other things going on other than that.

On the Chris Carr interception yesterday, what happened on that play? Who was that intended for?

That was a terrible play. It’s a bootleg. I had someone in the flat. I looked out there and he was covered, I think by Chris Carr. It happened a couple times this year where I don’t want to take a sack, and I don’t want to take an intentional grounding because the guy is right on me.

As the quarterback, you want to throw the ball in the area of the receiver so you don’t get an international grounding. I thought I had a crossing route from the backside tight end. I’m not trying to complete the ball. I’m trying to throw the ball in an area where I thought he would be. I threw it, and Chris Carr came off — he saw me look back there, he came off, I think it was Ben — and he wheeled back there and made the interception.

It was like the one at the end of the Miami game. If I take a sack, you’re pretty much screwed. Because it’s an inside route, it’s kind of a rock and a hard place. Obviously, I don’t want to throw an interception in a situation like that. I’ve got to take a sack or try to throw to a place where nobody can get it. That’s not where you want to throw the ball, where they have an opportunity to make a play on it.

Was it something [Wes] Welker could have done that [Julian] Edelman could not, because of your experience together?

We worked out, we had all week to practice without him, we had a game plan without him. We felt like we could still advance the ball and do a lot of good things without Wes. Wes, he’s an unbelieveable player. There’s nobody in the league that can do what Wes can do. He’s one of the greatest slot receivers that the league has ever seen.

You’d like to have both guys on the field — not just one of them. One of them doesn’t replace the other. Julian did a great job. He’s had a pretty remarkable year for a guy who had never caught a pass, at this time last year, in his life. He’s someone that we’re all very encouraged by. We’re all very excited about what’s to come with him. There’s a lot of other players like that, guys who really had their best years, a guy like Brandon Meriweather, who’s going to continue to be relied on as a team leader, Jerod Mayo, same thing, same type of player.

We’re going to have to lick our wounds and deal with the next eight months of an offseason and really look forward to what’s ahead.

You won’t have to talk with us next Monday morning.

We’ll be back. I know that. This team isn’t going anywhere. We’ve got a lot of pieces in place. Hopefully we can do a better job next year all around.

You didn’t blame the fans for booing? That didn’t bother you?

I never get bothered by that. I think they have every right to tell us when we’re not playing good. I was at those victory Super Bowl parades, too, when we had a million people out there. When we play good, there’s great support. It will always be great support. Every time I’m out and about, people around town are cheering us on and supporting us. We’ve got so much of that. We could be in a lot of other places where people don’t care. We always have a lot of people that care about what we’re doing and care about the way we play. When we’re not playing up to their expectations, they let us know. That’s their right. Hopefully we’ll give them a lot to cheer about next year.

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