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Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘We really let it slip away’

09.26.11 at 10:34 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning for his weekly discussion.

Brady threw four interceptions in Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Bills, matching his total for all of last season.

“As a quarterback, you’re always trying to make good decisions with the ball,” he said. “When you hold the ball, you pretty much hold the fortune of the entire team with you. Sometimes they make a play on a ball and it gets batted. Sometimes you could make a better throw, like yesterday on a few of the throws, and they make you pay for it. Sometimes they catch them, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the ball just bounces to the ground and sometimes it bounces up in the air. That’s part of playing quarterback.

“You’ve got to be able to rebound and go back out there and keep making good throws. In different ways, we responded yesterday. It was a tough environment. We had control of the game, but we really let it slip away.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Do you get much sleep after a game like that, or are you able to compartmentalize and put it out of your brain and say, “I’ll think about all that tomorrow”?

I don’t sleep very well after any game. When you lose, and you lose the way that we lost, it’s a tough one to swallow. It was a long flight home, and I’m sure it will be a long week. But we’re the only people that can really do anything about it. We have a long football season ahead. We have a bunch of meaningful games. We’ll figure out what we did wrong and try to do it better moving forward.

Are batted balls for interceptions bad throws by the quarterback? And beyond that, do you view batted balls differently than misreads or poorly executed interceptions?

As a quarterback, you’re always trying to make good decisions with the ball. When you hold the ball, you pretty much hold the fortune of the entire team with you. Sometimes they make a play on a ball and it gets batted. Sometimes you could make a better throw, like yesterday on a few of the throws, and they make you pay for it. Sometimes they catch them, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the ball just bounces to the ground and sometimes it bounces up in the air. That’s part of playing quarterback.

You’ve got to be able to rebound and go back out there and keep making good throws. In different ways, we responded yesterday. It was a tough environment. We had control of the game, but we really let it slip away.

Specifically, when you hit the defensive lineman’s helmet with the ball, is that on you, in your mind?

Yeah, of course. You’re not trying to hit the D lineman with the ball. We were trying to throw it over the middle to Wes. I’ve got to make a better throw. I’ll work on it and get better at it.

How to you prepare for a defense that’s going to try to knock down your throws? Is there any way to get ready for that?

That’s something we have to be aware of, and something we’re always thinking about. We usually don’t get a lot of passes batted down. If this happened 2-3 times a week, you’d think a lot about what we’re doing and scheme. But when they make a play, they make a play. And I think you just have to give credit to them and move on. You don’t change your whole offense because of one play. They made a good play on the ball, the ball got deflected into the hands of the defender. And that’s what it took for them to win. Those are the plays they made. We give them credit for making those plays.

You can’t sit here and beat yourself up all day and night about when you feel like they make a good defensive play. They made it and we’ll move forward. We still had opportunities. We just didn’t take advantage of them.

Do you worry about overusing [Wes Welker]? Because when he’s going over the middle, he’s getting popped. And when you make 16 catches, that means you’re taking a lot of hits. Are you relying on him too much?

He’s a huge part of our passing game. On a day like yesterday, we did have to rely on him. He gets open and he catches the ball and he does things with it. So, you’re always focused on getting him the ball. I’ve got a lot of trust in what he’s doing and his playmaking ability for our offense. There’s no doubt we’ve got to spread the ball around. Deion [Branch], for example, who I don’t think had a catch, I’ve got to get him the ball more. Because he’s a great player for us. I think when you do just throw it to one or two guys, the defense figures it out pretty quick. It takes every single guy on the offensive side of the ball to play an efficient, smart game in order to score points. Rob [Gronkowski] made a lot of plays yesterday, and Wes did. But I’ve got to figure out ways to get other guys the ball.

Were the Bills by and large double-teaming [Chad Ochocinco], and did that have something to do with Wes’ big day?

It just turned out Wes was in the right place at the right time. Some days you have those games. You don’t have them a lot. That’s why guys don’t have 16 catches very often in the NFL, because at some point they really tighten down the coverage on the guy that you’re trying to throw the ball to. Other guys made some plays yesterday. I really felt like we stopped ourselves on multiple occasions. They made some plays, big plays, but we moved the ball. We completed a lot of passes, moved the ball up and down the field. We just didn’t score enough points. Offensively, we look at it and we say, “You know, we’re doing a lot of good things.” We’re just, yesterday, for example, the turnovers killed us. A few penalties hurt us. But you can’t turn the ball over, four interceptions, and expect to win. You’re just not going to do it.

Would you agree with [Ochocinco's postgame comments] that he’s getting it better, that he’s got his stuff down?

Yeah, he’s been working hard at it. I think the last few weeks, he’s really been much more involved in the game and playmaking. And we’re going to need him. We’re going to need every single player on the roster. I have a lot of confidence in Chad. He works hard, he wants to do the right thing, he studies. He spends time after practice trying to get it right. It’s just been a lot for the new guys in particular, the rookies and for the veteran free agents, to really take in in a short amount of time. But we’re making progress each week, and it’s showing up.

Chad is definitely making more plays for us, and that’s important for our offense. They’re going to have to defend everybody.

Was that a team loss?

That’s what football’s about. We’re in it together. After the game, sticking together as a team, that’s what happens. We’ve got to be more mentally tough than one loss. It’s pretty hard to go 16-0 in the NFL. When you evaluate it, you say they made a few more plays than we did. If we make a couple of other plays, it’s a different outcome.

Even if we won yesterday, it would mask some of the problems that we’re having. So, when you lose, it really exposes to everybody, OK, this is what we need to do in order to win these type games. It certainly is a team loss. Believe me, I sit there and think all night about all those things I wish I’d have done better. When you’re the quarterback and you’re not getting the ball in the end zone as often as you’d like, and certainly when there’s interceptions, you take those hard. But I tell you, it’s not going to stop me from going out there and firing the ball around the field. I don’t lose any confidence in what I think we’re as an offense capable of doing. It’s just, we’ve got to eliminate some of the inconsistencies that have showed up the first three weeks in order to really take our offensive football to another level.

We showed we’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays for is. We’re going to continually need to do that over the course of the season. If we do that, I think we’re going to be pretty proud of the outcome at the end. But if we continue to play inconsistent, and if you turn the ball over — that was something we really relied on last year to win games, we didn’t turn it over much.

They made some good plays out there. You’ve got to give them credit. Then the other ones where we make bad plays, we’ve got to eliminate those. That’s really what you think about. That’s what I was thinking about for the last 18 hours or so.

Rich Gannon on the broadcast pointed out that quarterbacks throw interceptions when they’re not throwing to their favorite receivers, because they’re not on the same page necessarily with the fourth and fifth guy. He made this point after your second pick, the one [Leodis] McKelvin made when he undercut Ochocinco. He immediately blamed the receiver? Is Gannon right?

I think quarterbacks always protect other quarterbacks [laughs]. And there’s a lot of them who do the broadcasts. Chad’s been a good player for us since he got here. He and I are always working hard at being on the same page. Are we going to be on the same page as much as Deion and Wes? No. I’ve played a lot more games with those guys.

We’ve got to eliminate turnovers like that where it’s really unnecessary. I could throw the ball away in a situation like that. I can throw to another receiver if I feel like he’s undercutting it. And that’s what I’m going to have to do. Like I said, I thought that was a good play by McKelvin. He really got a jump on it. He went for the interception. He made a big play for their team, and that’s what it takes to win the games. They made plays, and we’ve got to make more plays. I think that’s what it comes down to. Because when you play good teams, and you play them at home, they’re going to make their fair share.

It’s like a boxing match. We’re going to get hit, and they’re going to get hit, and hopefully at the end you connect more times than they do. I thought we had our opportunities. I don’t think we come out of the game, like I said, thinking that we’re a bad football team. It’s just, if we play the way that we played, we’re not going to be very good. … But we know that we can play better than that.

In the old days, before aerial assault football was so in vogue in Foxboro, a 21-0 lead would have some coaches, some quarterbacks, some teams try to run the ball a little bit more, let some air out of the ball and run the clock, five yards, all that. Is that a sound approach based on how this team is constructed?

Well, I think it’s great to be balanced. No matter what you do, we’re trying to run it just as well as we throw it and vice versa. It complements one another. The play action game complements the running game and vice versa. We don’t want to come out of every game throwing the ball as many times as we have been. We want to be balanced. We have some damn good running backs that are able to do some good things with it. I’m sure that’s going to be a big point of emphasis. We’re going to continue to find ways to get the ball to the guys who can really do something with it. The running backs are a big part of every game plan, and when you come out of the game yesterday, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of critiques that we have for ourselves. Hopefully whatever we do next week, depending on the game plan, depending on what we see from their defense, we have to do it more efficiently than we did yesterday.

In an effort not to keep hammering on the negatives, what was the perfect play you guys made out there? The play that you worked on in practice, complicated, and it came off exactly the way you wanted it. Is there one that stands out in your mind?

I would say Wes’ first touchdown pass. That was a great play by Wes. He got the corner moving and broke out of it and the corner slipped and Wes kind of walked in for a touchdown. Wes makes plays like that look easy. There’s so few guys in the NFL who can run routes like Wes that allow him to get the separation that he does which allows him to make pretty difficult plays look pretty easy. That was a great play by Wes. He had a bunch of them all day. Rob had some great catches. Everyone really has to be on the same page so we can be more consistent and score more points.

I don’t know if this one stands out in your mind. It wasn’t for a touchdown, so maybe it doesn’t. It was just after they had scored 17 unanswered. I believe you had just gone into the no-huddle. It was a third-and-7. There was a great play with a double pick with Welker for 23 yards. That looked very complicated but perfectly executed.

Yeah. Like I said, we do have a lot of confidence that we’re a good passing team, that we can protect and we can run routes, we can get the ball to the right guys. I think there were days before when we would lose games 21-0 and then you feel like, God, we’re not even close. You feel like we’re able to make the plays. It’s just too many negative plays take away from the good plays that we’re making. Because we made plenty of good plays. But the turnovers really negate the positive plays.

We’re just going to need to do a better job. That’s what we’re going to be working on all week in practice. It’s early in the year. It’s on the third game of the year. Nothing is decided here in September. We’re going to come to practice. We’re going to work hard. We’re going to take the coaching. We’re going to put the game plan in and we’re going to try to go out and do it a hell of a lot better than we did today. It’s a pretty crappy taste in your mouth leaving a stadium like we did yesterday. Realizing that with a few pretty basic elementary plays, it’s a different outcome.

Back to the negativity. What was the worst play of the day in your mind? The one that made you sick to your stomach?

For me, it’s always the ones where I have guys open and I don’t hit them. I had one to Deion early in the game, a comeback route on our sideline that I missed and that really pissed me off. I had a third down play that I tried to throw to Julian [Edelman]. I tried to look the safety off and I threw the ball too far inside and he knocked it down. The interceptions, yeah, those piss you off. There’s no doubt about that. I try to evaluate the decisions I make. I don’t really feel like I’m forcing the ball. I just feel like they made some good plays. I give them credit. They earned it. I’m going to make them earn it as a quarterback. I’m going to make them earn it. I’m not going to give it to them. If they get them, they’re going to have to earn them.

Are you long since past the point where going home to the Bay Area is a distraction? You don’t still have high school friends call you and say, ‘Hey, Tom, how about hooking me up,’ do you?

No. Not so much. It will be fun to go back there. I played in Oakland only once before. I never played in San Francisco. I missed those trips in ’08, being injured. It will be fun to be back home. It will be fun to play and for my parents not have to travel cross country to see me play. That will be nice for them. I’m sure they’ll be pretty happy about that.

Did you hate the Raiders as a kid?

There wasn’t a real hate because there honestly wasn’t much of a rivalry with the Niners . They were in a different conference, and San Francisco was winning a lot of those games. It wasn’t a huge rivalry. I’ve always followed them, because you’re either a Raiders fan or a Niners fan. I just always happened to be a Niners fan.

Is there a chance that yesterday’s loss might serve itself to be like the Cleveland loss was last year where everyone just gets so galvanized, so hacked off, so focused that you put a run together?

It remains to be seen. We have to see what kind of character we have. We have to see what kind of mental toughness we have. To come back from really tough losses and to not dwell on them but to learn from them. To go forward with more energy and enthusiasm. Look, there’s one or two ways  you can go. You can complain, point a finger, make excuses and really allow one loss to become a string of losses. Or you can say: You know what, we made the mistakes. It was our fault. There was no one to blame but ourselves. Individually, there’s nobody to blame but myself, and that’s the approach you take going forward. You play with confidence. You play with toughness. You play with the understanding that we need to play better.

If we do that, the outcomes will be different. If we don’t, which who knows because this is the 2011 version of the team. We’re going to go out there this week and practice and hopefully have a great week to prepare for a tough game in Oakland. They beat the Jets at home. We all know how good the Jets are. We have to go out there and prove to ourselves that we can win on the road, another tough game on the road.

The last time you lost to Buffalo, you guys won the Super Bowl that year.

[Laughs] That was a long time ago. I wish it was easy like that to make proclamations and so forth. But we’re so far from where we need to be as an offense, as a team, individually, we’re pretty far from where we need to be. We have to make those improvements so that the margin of error isn’t so slick. We’re going to see what we’re made of this week. I think everyone can’t wait to probably get on that practice field on Wednesday and see what we’re all about.

Were you at the [Randy] Moss Halloween party where Bill [Belichick] went as a pirate? What did you go as?

Yes. I was like a ’70s disco guy. I had a pretty weak costume. Guys really stepped it up that year. Coach Belichick, he looked like Jack Sparrow [from "Pirates of the Caribbean"]. That was the best costume. I think he won best costume for that outfit.

Did they tell you not to roller skate? They don’t need you falling on that right elbow.

You know what? I was coming back from my foot … Was that ’09? No. I had my knees. I wouldn’t mess around on roller skates. I’m not as athletic as some of those other guys to do the roller skates. Grass and cement, that’s kind of what I stick to. Ice and water and all that, that’s pretty tough for me.

Can you explain the role and the relationship between the radio helmet, the wristband, and how that all works together for you to call a play?

The radio, the coach on the sideline, Billy [O'Brien] is able to communicate with me up until 15 seconds left on the play clock. Then I have the wristband that, it’s kind of a backup for if the radio goes down. Also, there’s some play calls that have a lot of verbiage. It’s quicker to say the number 52 rather than read off an entire list of words so that you can get the play called in the huddle and break the huddle with as much time as possible. We’re trying to just break the huddle, get to the line of scrimmage with as much time as we can have. Sometimes, using the wristband is the most effective way of doing that. And then always, if you have radio malfunctions like we have had in the past, there’s a grease board that we have on the sidelines that they can write the number on, I can look, see the number, and then relate it to what’s going on on my wristband.

If Billy says 52 in your radio helmet earphone, you don’t know what 52 is? You have to look for it?

Yeah, I’ve got to look for it. We have 110 calls and they change every week, so you have 110 new calls every week. I’d spend the whole week trying to memorize all that. I wouldn’t have any time for anything else.

Read More: Chad Ochocinco, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
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