Tom Brady has a new take on the hurry-up offense
|08.05.11 at 7:30 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots are running a new type of hurry-up offense this season. It’s called “Get ready for the first preseason game in under 20 practices.”
While you won’t find that anywhere in the Patriots playbook, it is what the Patriots and every other NFL team is up against, with the first preseason game next Thursday at Gillette against the Jaguars.
“It has been quite a bit different,” Tom Brady said on Friday, following the team’s seventh practice but just second full practice in pads with veterans and rookies practicing. “There’s a lot of work to be done in all honesty. We missed a lot of practices this summer and this spring. The time that we have on the field is so valuable and we can’t afford to make mistakes and get behind because we’re already behind.
‘There’s a lot of ground to make up. It’s a tough year to be a young player to come in and learn what they’re doing, but they’re doing the best they can. We’re making plenty of mistakes but we’re trying to get them corrected so we can move onto other things. It’s fun to be out here. Believe me it’s a lot of fun – the time we have on the field everyone’s enjoying, but we really have to make good use of our time.
Brady has long been considered one of the brightest and most cerebral signal-callers in the game. But he said Friday even this will test his limits.
“I think we have to understand the learning curve has to be so fast,” he said. “You can’t come out here and have a bad practice because look, you don’t have many of them. We’re out on the field for two and a half, three hours, but it goes fast out here. Today we did a little bit more. Finally we’re getting into the goal-line. In the spring time, in a normal year, next year, a whole goal-line package will be installed and just now guys are hearing it for the first time. It takes a lot; guys are going to have to do a lot of extra work, seeing the tape and listening to the coaches, spending extra time in here studying, understanding what they have to do.”
One thing Brady can be – and is – very grateful for is the return of Logan Mankins, Matt Light and Kevin Faulk.
“The continuity that we have up front over the years has been great,” he said. “That’s really a position of strength for us; it always has been. I think what those guys can do for us, in terms of calming the game down – it’s a tough position in our offense, to play offensive line. There are so many calls, we do a lot and I think those guys have to have not only the physical ability to do those things but to learn quickly, to make adjustments quickly every week.
“It will be great when Matt gets out there – hopefully that will be soon. We’ll see when all those guys come together. We’ve got quite a bit of time before the opener. All the preparations that we’re making are ultimately building up to that game.”
Adding to the complications this offseason for Brady has been the health of longtime quarterback guru Tom Martinez, who has battled kidney and heart ailments stemming from diabetes. After Martinez announced that he had only a month to live in early June, it was revealed that his condition had improved and he was seeking kidney and heart transplants.
“Yeah, I spent a lot of time with him the last few months,” Brady said. “He’s meant the world to me. He’s been such a great person and supporter over the years – for the over 20 years that he’s been coaching me. We talk all the time and he understands what I need to do to be a great quarterback and that’s what I’m trying to be. It’s always working on the technique. The technique and fundamentals are one thing at my position, and understanding the plays that you’re trying to execute are another thing, and that’s what you’re trying to do out here.
“You’re trying to keep your technique while you’re in the middle of guys who are rushing and different blitzes that you haven’t talked about or haven’t seen, different coverages you haven’t talked about or haven’t seen. It’s about just getting out here and working through all that and trying to get as comfortable as you can with the new guys that we have.”
Brady also addressed a number of other topics: (Thanks to Patriots PR staff for their transcript)
Given the lockout, what do you think of the conditioning of the team as a whole?
TB: I think Coach Belichick really wants us in great shape, so that’s why we condition every day after practice. Guys are doing extra work on their own when they go inside. Conditioning is extremely important. Because the teams really couldn’t monitor us, no one really knew what kind of shape we were in – the only thing we could really judge it on was our conditioning time. Ultimately, you have to come out here and be in football shape and that takes time; that takes a lot of practices.
Q: Do you feel as though you’re in football shape or do you feel as though you need more time?
TB: I’m glad I have a lot more practices until the season starts. I could use every one of them and I’m going to use every one of them and I’m going to try to be in as best condition as I possibly can be.
Q: Did you watch the signing of the CBA this morning in Canton?
TB: We were practicing, we were in meetings – we didn’t see any of that stuff. But it’s a great day for the NFL. It was exciting news when we all got the word that it had been ratified and all the players really got to move forward with practice yesterday afternoon and build toward a season. We just want to play football, that’s what we’ve always wanted to do and we have the ability to do that now. I’m glad it’s all in the past, to tell you the truth. It’s been great – we haven’t heard about it for a week, it’s just been talking about football and our expectations and what we need to do to put together a good team.
Q: What are your first impressions of Nate Solder?
TB: He just got out there yesterday, so like everybody he’s trying to figure out what’s going on. He’s trying to figure out all the terms. This is nothing like what he’s done before. We all have to get through these practices and learn from our mistakes. It’s tough for those rookies – I wouldn’t want to be a rookie this year, not only because their salaries got cut in half, but they’re learning. It’s going to be tough for those guys to learn.
Q: Do you have sympathy for what the rookies go through? Do you look back on what you went through, because we hear how complicated it is?
TB: I was very fortunate, honestly, my first year because it was Coach Belichick’s first year. They came in and installed pretty much a new offense so everyone was really starting at the same place. I’ve been in this offense for a long time, so it has developed over the course of going on our 12th year here, there’s a lot of things that we’ve done of the years to change it to try to make it better. It’s probably much more detailed than when we first started. That’s what those guys have to do: they have to come in and learn something that’s totally different. There’s only one way to do it and that’s to put the work in and put the effort in and come out, you’re going to make mistakes and then you build on them.
Q: Is it refreshing that you’ve sort of been an afterthought in camp publicity-wise with Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth?
TB: Sure. You just really want to come in and do your work. Like I said, we’ve been out for six months. Normally we have those 14 practices in the spring where okay, you really see where you’re at, you see where your conditioning is at, you see where your strength is at, you see how your arm feels, the reads, you get comfortable with guys. When you start training camp, you can really build on the work you’ve put in. This year’s been different. Coach Belichick is doing the best he can to coach the team. We’re trying to do the best we can to listen to what he’s coaching us to do. We’re trying go out there and take it to the practice field. Some days it’s been good for the offense; some days it hasn’t. I’d say we’re making improvements though and that’s all you can ask for. We certainly need to make quite a few more of those, but if we continue to work hard I think we’ll get that done.
Q: Rob Gronkowski seems to have made a lot of strides this offseason. What have you seen out of him so far?
TB: He was a huge part of our offense last year [and] he’s going to be a huge part of our offense this year. He’s a very good tight end, he’s very smart, he’s very tough, he loves to block, he’s very selfless. He works his butt off. Talk about great condition, I mean he’s in great condition. He’s fun to watch out there. He can really dominate guys blocking. We have to continue to find ways to get him the ball. He has to be a good leader for this team – with the loss of Alge [Crumpler], he and Aaron [Hernandez] are two young guys who really need to step up and become leaders. That’s what I’m hoping they can do for us.
Q: Do you feel like Rob Gronkowski is the most dynamic tight end you’ve had here? You’ve had a lot of good ones, but he seems to a whole new element you’ve never had before.
TB: We’ve had some pretty good ones, ones who have won Super Bowls: Christian Fauria and Dan Graham and Ben Watson, Jermaine Wiggins, everyone played a role. He’s been very good for us, but he’s got a long way to go, too. We all have a long way to go, that’s the reality. We have a long time before the season starts. We need to use every practice to get better – if we don’t, we’re losing ground on our opponents.
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