Tom Brady: These Patriots still trying to figure out how to be great
|09.07.11 at 2:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady won three Super Bowls in four years by the time he was 25.
It would be only natural to assume he thought he and the Patriots had figured out what it took to be great, year-in and year-out.
If it were only that easy. Brady reminded everyone on Wednesday, five days before the season opener, that he doesn’t even know yet what will make this team succeed in 2011 and whether it will respond to the challenge of getting back to the sport’s pinnacle.
“Well, there’s only one team every year that has a good season and we haven’t been that team in a long time. How this team takes to that challenge – we’ll see, I don’t know,” Brady admitted. “This team has never been together in this current state with that opportunity, so how the other teams did and measured up — this is not those teams. This team will have its own identity and it’s all going to be based upon the work we put in – the toughness that we play with, the way that we play under pressure. So yeah, I mean, it sucks to lose at the end of the year – there’s no doubt about that. But we’ve got a great opportunity to be on this team with opportunities this year and we’ll see if we can take advantage of them.”
The team began the preseason outscoring the Jaguars and Buccaneers, 78-26 before coming back to earth with losses to the Lions and Giants. The first-team offense, led of course by No. 12, showed flashes of brilliance but stumbled a bit in the final two games, putting together just two TD drives, not including a one-yard TD run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis following a turnover against the Giants.
“I think we’ve been a little bit inconsistent over the course of the preseason and we’re trying to get a lot of things straightened out,” Brady said. “We’re trying to do the things that we’ve consistently done well, whether it’s in training camp, in practices or in games. We haven’t had a ton of practices, so that’s where the inconsistencies come up. That’s why we’re going out to work on these things.
“We’re a long way from figuring out where we’re going to be. I’m sure every week we’re going to improve and keep working hard at it, but we’ve only been together for five or six weeks. I’m sure [some] things are going to be good and [there’re] going to be things we need to correct. Hopefully we do enough to win.”
Brady, who is expected to be the captain of the offense once again, had a message for Chad Ochocinco, Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth and everyone else who comes to New England in search of the brass [championship] ring.
“Look, it’s hard to win games,” Brady said. “You can’t come here and think, ‘Oh just because now I’m on this team we’re going to [win]. Boy, it’s going to be easy.’ Everyone starts at the same point every year. Look, we’ve added new guys [and] other teams have added new guys. We have new coaches and some other teams have new coaches. We’re trying new things on offense [and] so are other teams, so like I said, how it all comes together, that’s why we’re playing the games.
“That’s why we go out there and practice – to see how it all fits together. You win games and you put yourself in a good position. That’s what we’re trying to do out here; we’re trying to win these games. The game that we have coming up on Monday night against a division opponent, there’s nothing more that you could ask for to start the year. We’re all excited. We’re excited to be out there playing in a big game after a long layoff, and we’ll see where we measure up.”
Brady knows Bill Belichick certainly will do everything in his power to make sure the team measures up to what he expects.
“The expectation that coach Belichick… I mean, we have high expectations,” Brady said. “Coach Belichick lays it on us every single day – what he expects from us. So, when the new guys come in, you get use to the program pretty quick. He doesn’t accept anything less than our best every day in practice, every day in the meetings, every day in the walk through. So when we’re not performing at a high level, you’re going to hear about it. So, the new guys that come in – who knows. I’ve never been a new guy to come in, so I don’t really know. I just know that every time I take the field in practice I’m trying to be a great leader for the team [and] trying to perform at my very best.
So, are the Patriots ready for 2011?
“As ready as I can possibly be,” said Brady, who is entering his 11th season as the starting quarterback. “I think everyone has put a lot of work in over the last six weeks to get to this point. [We’ve] moved on from the preseason and I think that getting here for a regular season week has been a lot of fun for the guys. [There’s] certainly a different urgency in the air. The guys are excited. To watch a lot of film on [Miami], to have a pretty good understanding of on what they do well and the things we’re going to try to take advantage of – it’s good.”
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