Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I feel as good as I’ve ever felt going into Thanksgiving’
|11.22.11 at 11:37 am ET|
Following the Patriots’ 34-3 rout of the Chiefs, quarterback Tom Brady checked in with Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning for his weekly discussion.
Brady took a couple of hits Monday night, but he said he’s happy with where he is health-wise heading into the stretch run of the regular season.
“I’m fine. I feel great,” he said. “I feel as good as I’ve ever felt going into Thanksgiving time. I feel really good and excited about where we’re at and hopefully we can keep building on these wins. We have a huge game this weekend against a very good opponent. Coach [Bill] Belichick said last night that this the best team we’ve played all year. That says a lot. I think they’re talented at every position, so we have to go out there and see what we can do against a very good football team.”
Following is transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Can you explain how four offensive — and man, I mean offensive — series to open the game gets turned around in a heartbeat? What switch was flipped, what adjustment was made, how did you turn it around so quickly?
Our execution early on obviously wasn’t very sharp. we just weren’t on the same page collectively as a group. I thought once we settled into the game and got to the stuff that we felt really good about, we did a much better job of executing. Obviously, that produces points.
Early on it was just tough. They threw a bunch of different things at us and we were just kind of out of sorts. But I thought we responded well there in the second half. I always say it’s hard to win in the NFL. To win 34-3 was pretty good for us coming off really an emotional win against the Jets and then a tough loss at home two weeks ago. Now it’s on to the Eagles.
You smiled broadly last week when asked about going against [Romeo Crennel’s] defense. You said it’s kind of like our defense, I see it all the time. Did it look the same or were there any variations and wrinkles last night?
There were plenty of wrinkles. I thought they did a pretty good job of disguising some things. I thought they did a good job of really mixing a bunch of different calls and fronts and pressures and so forth. And they hit us on a few of them. Anytime they do that, as an offense, it does, it keeps you a little off-balance, and we really couldn’t play as aggressively as we wanted. So, I thought we were just a bit more reactive there in the first quarter-and-a-half. And then we put together a good drive to score a touchdown, and then we got down there on the 1-yard line and didn’t get it in before halftime. But we came out in the second half and played a lot better.
Do you know right away that they’re going to take away Wes Welker, or is that a play-to-play thing?
You’ve got to figure it out, because they don’t do it every snap, but they do it enough to get you to think they’re going to do it every snap. And then there’s times where you say, OK, well, Wes is out of it, let’s move on. The next thing you know, that’s the play that he’s open. It’s my job to sort through those things and get the ball to the open guy and get the ball to the guy who has the best matchup vs. the best leverage with the best route called. I thought I could have done a better job of that last night.
There was one replay where they showed both [Rob] Gronkowski and Welker doubled. Have you seen that often?
No, well, in different ways they do those sorts of things. Not necessarily in the way that the Chiefs were planning on doing it. Like I said, that’s part of my job to sort that out and then get the ball to the matchup where you have guys that are one-on-one. I didn’t do a very good job of that at times last night.
If you see two receivers, both covered but both open, and one is Gronk, and the other one is anybody else, does human nature make you go maybe more leaning toward Gronk because of his body size and his ability to shield the defender away from the ball?
Yeah, he does. He’s got great body size. And because of his long arms he can really — they call it a catch radius — he can extend and catch the ball in a lot of different areas. He’s been very productive for us this year. And we’re going to need to continue to find ways to get him the ball. But obviously, when he does get the ball, there’s a lot of emphasis on him from a defensive standpoint. That really has to get me to throw the ball to other guys, like Chad [Ochocinco], who was open last night, Deion [Branch] was open, Aaron [Hernandez] was open, the running backs were open at times. It’s just about getting those guys the ball so not all the coverage goes to Wes and Gronk.
You used to tell us all the time that Randy Moss was one of the smartest guys you ever played with. Where would you rank Rob Gronkowski?
He’s up there. He’s got great football intellect. The thing with him is if he makes a mistake, you can pretty much count on that that mistake will never happen again. With all players, especially young players — and I just remember this thinking back when I was a young player — you’re going to make mistakes, because you haven’t seen everything. Your lack of experience is something that, it’s not your fault, it’s just you haven’t seen everything. And Rob, since his first rookie minicamp, he’s just continued to get better and continued to make improvements. He’s very smart out there, he’s very tough, and his physical skill, you saw what he does run after catch. It’s phenomenal. He’s got great speed. He’s a flexible guy, he can really bend, he’s not very stiff for a guy of his size. That’s why he’s able to break all those tackles.
Did you see the instant replay of his head hitting the ground?
I did. Multiple times. I saw it on the game film and rewinded it. That was a hell of a hit that he took. But he bounces up and runs back to the — he was on the sideline at that point — but sometimes it’s back to the huddle. And he’s ready for the next play. He’s as tough as they come.
On that play, it was play action, Gronk was in the backfield, it was about a 1-yard pass and an 18-yard run. Have we seen that play before? Have you run that play this year?
No. First time. ‘¦ When you go into the 11th week of the year, you’re still trying to find ways to show them things they haven’t seen. Just like they showed us things that we haven’t seen. We have them off-balance in some areas, too. Early on, they take their shots, they get us. Then we take our shots and hopefully we get them. Then you sort it out after 60 minutes and you see what the score says. Even though I don’t think we played a very good first quarter, I thought we really rebounded well and took advantage of some great defensive plays by our own defense to allow us to take control of the game.
Four catches for your outside receivers, is that OK with you because you won the game, or is that a problem?
Well, we only had 15 receptions. We weren’t 27-of-40. We were 15-of-27. It’s not that they’re not open, I’ll tell you that. There’s definitely times where I’ve got to get them the ball. And they’re running good routes, it’s against a tough coverage, and sometimes it’s double coverage and they’re doing a good job of getting open. Sometimes they’re open and it’s just the ball goes to the the tight end or the running back because I end up seeing them in my vision before I see the receivers.
That includes [Ochocinco]? He was open and you just didn’t find him?
Yeah, there were definitely times last night where he could have gotten the ball.
Did he point that out to you in the huddle, on the sideline?
Yeah, he’ll tell me. I’ll always ask receivers, How did you do on that? And they’ll say, “I got him,” or, “I was wide open,” or, “It’s a touchdown if you would have thrown it.” [Laughs]
I thought they always were wide open, every play.
They can be. Most of the time, they’ll tell you that. But then I’ll watch the film the next day and …
Yeah, “I was triple-teamed there.” Then you look at [the film] and there was one guy on them. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, the emotion of the game, they see things differently than I see them. But I thought the receivers, we’ve got a damn good group of receivers that works their tails off every day in practice. And it shows up in the game for the most part. Last night, like I said, I wish I would have done a better job getting those guys the ball.
You mentioned the improved defense, 16 points allowed to the Jets, three last night to Kansas City, three more interceptions. Is that generally speaking a result of added pressure up front?
It looks like they’re getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Just from our sideline, against the Jets, to watch them sack the other quarterback as often as they did was pretty cool. And then last night, they were getting a ton of pressure. I hope that’s really a theme for us.
Those guys seem like they’re really getting into the groove and as the season goes on it’s nice to see that pass rush that we have, which I see them every day in practice and I see them the way they rush us. They can get to the quarterback and that’s huge when they can do that. It really forces the quarterback to make quick decisions and get the ball out of his hand and sometimes you throw it early and you’re not able to make the throw that you want or the read that you want, and when those result in interceptions for our defense, those are game-changers.
You got sacked a couple times, hurried, rushed and hit. Are you moving a little slow this morning?
Yeah, I’m fine. I feel great. I feel as good as I’ve ever felt going into Thanksgiving time. I feel really good and excited about where we’re at and hopefully we can keep building on these wins. We have a huge game this weekend against a very good opponent. Coach Belichick said last night that this the best team we’ve played all year. That says a lot. I think they’re talented at every position, so we have to go out there and see what we can do against a very good football team.
Were you a little undecided on whether to slide or not to slide? Because it was kind of halfway in between but not really a slide.
I wanted to get in the end zone and Deion was kind of starting to block the guy and he didn’t want to clip the guy, so he kind of pulled off and it just kind of surprised me. I’m not the fastest twitch guy in the world, so once I kind of make a decision as I’m nearing a guy, I’m past the point of no return. I wish I had been able to get the ball in the end zone, that would have been a big score for us, but I didn’t. If I had to do it all over again, I would have taken a little cut and dove, but hindsight is 20/20 always.
Will you look at all the Philadelphia games, obviously they’re a big disappointment, they’re 4-6, but they did knock off the Giants, who beat you. Are you better served to look at them at their best or at their worst when you’re getting ready to play them?
You watch every game for game-planning purposes, but you expect their best. This is when the good teams really rise up. As the season goes, the games get bigger and bigger and bigger because there’s more on the line. There’s less margin for error. The better teams you play, there’s less margin for error. When you play on the road, there’s less margin for error. They went on the road and beat the Giants. They beat the Cowboys by like four touchdowns. Obviously they’ve had some tough losses this year, most of them have been in the fourth quarter. But they have very good skill players. On defense, in the secondary, they can rush the quarterback. It’s a very good football team, obviously they’re very well coached. We have our work cut out for us. Anytime you go on the road, it makes it that much more challenging. On a short week, against a very talented team, it’s going to be all we can handle.
When Belichick decides to put Julian Edelman on defense the way he did with Troy Brown a few years ago, other offensive players, are they jealous? Or are they like, “Good, I don’t want to do that”? I know you’re not a candidate, but I’m assuming other wideouts and backs are like, “Why not me? I’m up for trying.”
I think the great part about our team and the kind of guys that’s on our team and the character and quality of person and player on our team is that whatever coach Belichick asks you to do, that’s what you do. There’s 53 guys on the roster and there’s not designated offensive players or designated defensive players or special teams guys. Whatever you can do to help the team get a win.
We were very thin at secondary because of some injuries — like Patrick Chung didn’t play, Devin [McCourty] didn’t play, we’ve lost some guys to injured reserve. They look on the roster and say, “What guys have really good skill sets that can contribute on the other side of the ball?” And Julian is one of those guys who, he’s always willing to do it. And I think he enjoys that opportunity. Because he doesn’t play as much on offense because Wes is in there most of the time, when he gets his chance, he goes out there and does everything he can to help the team. Whether it’s a punt return for a touchdown like he did last night, go on defense and make a tackle on [LaDainian Tomlinson] like he did last week, and then some tackles last night, it’s pretty cool to see. He won’t be the last person to switch sides of the ball, but he’s doing a damn good job of it for us.
When’s the last time you played defense? Did you play defense in high school?
Yeah, my freshman year in high school [Junipero Serra in San Mateo, Calif.] I was the inside linebacker, but that didn’t work out well.
In a 3-4 or were you middle linebacker?
In the 3-4, yeah.
So you were inside ‘backer? Were you quarterback at the same time?
I was the backup quarterback.
So you were like Matt Cassel in college, you just had to get on the field?
We were 0-8, too, my freshman year, and I was the backup quarterback, which tells you how [expletive] I was because I couldn’t even get on the field and we were 0-8.
What was the starting quarterback’s name?
Does Kevin still lord it over you at reunions, that he was the starter?
You know what happened is, the only reason why I played my second year is because he was like, “Screw this. I’m not going to play football. We suck. I’m going to go play basketball.” So, that gave me the chance.
So, you got it by default.
Yeah, there was no other choice. I guess Brady has to play now.
Back to the Edelman thing, is part of the criteria when Bill identifies the guys who he might play on defense, guys who are willing to stick their nose in there, because as a punt returner and every other incarnation of Edelman, we’ve seen him stick his nose anywhere he needs to put it.
Yeah of course, and I think that where they put Julian, for example, inside in the slot, is basically the opposite position that he’s played. He has familiarity with matchups on the other side of the ball. It’s not like they’re putting Julian at defensive tackle. He’s going to play a very natural position. And most of the guys, when you’re the best athlete on your high school team and most of the time your college team, you don’t have lot of experience playing on the other side of the ball. So in high school, it’s not like Julian just played receiver. He played defensive back. So there’s some crossover there. That was Troy Brown.
In college, I’ll tell you this, when I played with Charles Woodson, he was a cornerback for us and obviously a Heisman Trophy winner and a great one at that, but he was probably our best receiver, too. But he didn’t really play receiver, because in college you don’t do that quite as much. But when we needed a play, we put Charles in as a receiver and he made a play. So that’s just the kind of athlete that he was, and that Julian is, and I’m sure if you asked Wes to go over there, he’d do that, too. But he’s so valuable and he plays so much on offense, so it doesn’t make as much sense.
Everybody in the world has an opinion on Tim Tebow, his viability, his sustainability as an NFL quarterback. Does Tom Brady have an opinion on that?
I love watching young quarterbacks play and take advantage of their opportunities. I always root for the guys that don’t have everything handed to them. We’ll see him down the road here. I’m sure that, that’s four or five weeks away, honestly I haven’t even seen them play much. The only thing I was thinking about was the Chiefs and the only thing I’ll be thinking about this week is the Eagles. When we play the Broncos, I’m sure I’ll see a little bit more of him.”
Is that pregame ammonia sniff as painful as it appears, and what is the advantage?
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s just something we’ve done for probably four years now. Donte Stallworth used to do it. He used to crack them open and he’d give them to Wes and me. It just kind of wakes you up. It clears your sinuses and kind of wakes you up and gets you ready to go. Now it’s habit at this point.
It doesn’t look pleasant.
No, it’s not pleasant, especially when you get a big whiff of it. It’s pretty rough.
What else do you have? Do you have coffee, like, strong coffee, or Red Bull, or what else do you do to get the juices flowing?
I’ve never had coffee, and I don’t like Red Bull. I don’t do much. I have a little healthy energy pack that I take. For the most part, I just have a little protein power that I take before the game and it sustains you for your energy level. But no coffee or anything like that.
Then you’re laying in bed at 5 in the morning and the sun’s coming up, and you’re saying, Damn, why did I take that?
I know, that’s how you feel. At 2:30 in the morning last night, I’m still — not that I can ever sleep after any game, especially the night games.
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