Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I’ve got to find ways to get [Chad Ochocinco] the ball more’
|12.19.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
Aaron Hernandez had a huge game — a career-high nine receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. Brady said it wasn’t a case of the Broncos focusing on the Patriots’ other standout tight end, Rob Gronkowski.
“It’s not so much about taking one guy away in our offense,” Brady said. “We’ve seen that from week to week. One week it’s Wes [Welker], and one week it’s Rob, and one week it’s Deion [Branch], and one week it’s Aaron. It’s just a matter of the guys that they cover. Sometimes, Rob might be open on a read but someone else has got the read before that, so that’s where you go with the ball. I wouldn’t say there was a lot of extra coverage on Rob yesterday, that they were double covering him. They were playing things straight up, pretty much they way they’ve played all year. It just happened that Aaron was in a great position to catch a lot of passes, and he did. He had a phenomenal game and some really clutch plays, some run-after-catch plays that were phenomenal.
“It was really a great day all around. We spread the ball around to everybody. Everybody was involved. Because of that, we make it pretty tough for teams to defend us.”
Even Chad Ochocinco was more involved, catching his first touchdown pass as a Patriot and stepping up with Branch sideline by an injury.
” Obviously, without Deion playing, other guys have to step in and fill that role that Deion’s had for us,” Brady said. “Chad was in there, he really got us started. That was a huge touchdown catch. Every week he gets more and more comfortable. I wish I found ways to get him the ball more, and I’ve got to find ways to get him the ball more. He’s really embraced his role. He’s a great teammate. He’s fun to be around. And every week he gains more confidence. Hopefully we continue to build on it. This week is better than it was last week.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Did you just drag yourself out of the cold tub after that Elvis Dumervil hit yesterday?
I know, I know. He got me pretty good. I’m feeling that one this morning a little bit, more so than usual.
How come you didn’t see him?
I was staring at the other side of the field. I was pretty locked in to the guy I was throwing to. My peripheral vision didn’t kick in there. Believe me, I wish I would have seen him. I would have braced myself a little bit.
You popped right back up. Were you just trying to prove your manhood to the world? Because that had to hurt. Did he knock the wind out of you at all?
No. I learned pretty early playing quarterback that when you get hit, you should always be the first one up, faster than the guy that hit you. It’s just kind of habit I guess at this point.
You finished the day yesterday 23-of-34, 320 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions. Boomer Esiason told us last hour he thought it was your most accurate passing day of the year. Do you agree?
I don’t know. There were some good things. There were some things I wish I would have done better. I think offensively when we score 41 points it feels pretty good. Everyone was pretty happy on the flight home. I certainly was. It was a very satisfying day. You play a team that’s won six straight and you go on the road in a very important game — basically for the course of the season, to really clinch a title, regardless of what the Jets would have done yesterday. So, there was a lot of stake. And we knew going into the week, and we prepared hard. And to come out of it with a victory, I think everybody in the locker room was really pleased. That was the best part of the day. There’s no question about that.
A lot of people said before the game that you live for moments like this. All the attention was on this game, the whole country was watching. We were kind of fixated on the other guy, on Tim Tebow. How much talk before this game was there about — I don’t want to say disrespect, but just an opportunity for you guys to make a statement while everybody was kind of tuning in to check out Tebow mania.
I think we’ve been pretty good this year really ignoring what everyone says about us and not riding the roller coaster of the week-to-week hype of the expectations for this team or the other team. The team that won yesterday was the team that played the best. And every week is like that. I think sometimes we’re not very satisfied with some wins because we think we could play better. But then you watch games like yesterday, and the Packers lose to the Chiefs, and the Colts beat the Titans. So, in some ways it’s very satisfying to win an NFL game because you realize that the level of competition is high every week.
It’s an extremely competitive league. And our guys this year have always pretty much ignored all the crap that goes on outside the locker room. As a result we win another division title. Look, we’re 11-3, we’re in a good place, we’ve got to take care of business against Miami this week. As soon as the game finished, it’s on to the next one. That’s the way we’ve approached it all year, and that’s the way it’s got to be.
I know the expression is “Ignore the noise,” but sometimes do you use the noise? Does it help as motivation? Do you need that kind of motivation? I’m guessing some of the guys on your defense were getting sick of all the Tebow talk.
I don’t know. I didn’t hear much of that. Honestly, I didn’t hear the guys [talking about it]. I think we knew the kind of challenge they presented. They obviously got off to a great start in the game. They’re going to give some teams some problems with the way they play. They have a good defense. Offensively, they run it; Tim’s making good decisions with the football. So, they’re going to be in every game they’re in. I think we just made enough plays yesterday.
Fourth-quarter possession, you guys drove the ball 89 yards in seven plays. But there were two first-and-goal from the 1, second-and-goal from the 1 where you snuck it up the middle for no gain. Were you trying to not score and just use up time and make them use up timeouts?
I think there’s different strategies going into that. There’s times where we’re not — yeah, there’s times where we’re not trying to get the ball in; we’re trying to use the clock. If we want to score, they’re not going to give the ball to me. [Laughing] So, whenever I’ve got the ball in my hands, we’re not trying to gain much.
And then you hand it off to BenJarvus Green-Ellis because you did want to score on that play [on third down].
Exactly. And we did. That’s very good situational football to run whatever, another, I don’t know, minute. I don’t know how much we ran off, but they may have used their timeouts. It’s part of just our situational football, and we executed it well.
They burned two of their three timeouts on your two quarterback sneaks.
Can you tell us what they did to take Gronkowski away, and did that, as a result, open things up for Hernandez?
It’s not so much about taking one guy away in our offense. We’ve seen that from week to week. One week it’s Wes, and one week it’s Rob, and one week it’s Deion, and one week it’s Aaron. It’s just a matter of the guys that they cover. Sometimes, Rob might be open on a read but someone else has got the read before that, so that’s where you go with the ball. I wouldn’t say there was a lot of extra coverage on Rob yesterday, that they were double covering him. They were playing things straight up, pretty much they way they’ve played all year. It just happened that Aaron was in a great position to catch a lot of passes, and he did. He had a phenomenal game and some really clutch plays, some run-after-catch plays that were phenomenal.
It was really a great day all around. We spread the ball around to everybody. Everybody was involved. Because of that, we make it pretty tough for teams to defend us.
I get the sense that while you’re a football fan, when you’re not on the field you’re not watching a lot of football. When you’re on the sidelines, you’re working on stuff. Did you see much of Tim Tebow’s play at all during the game?
Yeah, you’re paying attention to the game. I don’t think you’re trying to understand the defensive calls and what we’re trying to take away out there. Situationally, you’re waiting for third down so you can get ready to go back on the field. I saw some of the plays, especially later in the game. For the most part, I’m pretty much focused on what we’re trying to do.
He runs better than you do.
Yeah, I would say that, too. He’s probably a lot bigger and stronger and more physical and tougher. He’s got a bright future.
In all of your years playing football, have you every lost 29 yards on a play?
On a sack?
Uhhh, no. I try not to lose too many yards on sacks. When you realize that you don’t run very well, you try to get the ball out of your hands as fast as you can. Because when the ball’s in my hands, nothing good is happening. But other players have different strengths. And when you play a guy like Tim or play a guy like Michael Vick or guys who are really serious threats when they have the ball in their hands, they present some different challenges.
Was there a theme going into the week? If it wasn’t Tebow, was it going into Denver, winning a road game against another division leader? Was there one thing that you guys used as kind of a theme, a thread through the week?
We talked about this is a very good fourth-quarter team. They’ve proven that over the course of the season. We spent a lot of time on the fourth quarter. I think it really showed itself yesterday, that we executed how we needed to. The defense came up with some big stops on fourth down. It’s a team that’s won a lot of games in the fourth quarter. When there’s 15 minutes left in the game, they feel like, “Man, OK, now it’s time for us to really kick in.” We found a way to really answer that. It was a really good effort by the entire team. Like I said, we did some very good things situationally. That’s how you go on the road and win. That’s how you win tough games.
Did you feel any of the effects [of the altitude in Denver]?
No. I mean, I didn’t. I think when you’re in Denver, that’s a nice phrase to have to try to maybe mentally psyche your opponent out a little bit. But I didn’t feel anything any different than playing in Foxboro Stadium. We had a lot of Patriots fans out there. We had a lot of great support. That was pretty cool to see, also.
On opening night I believe you rolled up 620 yards on this Dolphins team. Do you look at that game, focus on it, or do you just assume it’s a different Dolphins team and you spend more time on the more recent games they’ve played?
They’re quite a bit different now than they were when we first played them. They’ve made some adjustments and they’re playing some good football. I’ll watch that game, certainly, and see the things that we did well and see things that they did well. You can prepare for those, but they’re doing some different things defensively that we’ve got to be prepared for. They’re really gotten hot here the second half of the year. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. I’m glad we’re playing at home. There’s a lot on the line for us this week. We’ve got to go out there and play well.
Stevan Ridley ran the ball yesterday 11 times for 65 yards, averaged 5.9 yards carry. Is it just simply that you’re a rookie, you don’t know what you don’t know yet, you’ve got to wait your time, or is this guy showing more in practices that allowed you guys to have more confidence to use him yesterday?
He’s like any rookie. As the season goes on, everybody gets more and more comfortable. He had some opportunities yesterday. I thought everybody ran the ball [well]. Benny ran it good. He had a good run there at the end of the game that got called back on a penalty. We got the ball in when we needed to get the ball in. Danny [Woodhead] had some really good runs.
Stevan always runs hard. He’s broken some good long runs for us over the course of the whole season. When he does that, it’s really a spark for the whole offense. Because, like you said, they’re trying to account for Rob, they’re trying to account for Aaron and Wes. And then, bam, you hand it off and we run it for 20 yards. That takes a lot of kind of fight out of the other team when you’re able to hand the ball off and gain yards like that. That was really a huge key to our success yesterday.
You’re an expert in this area: Do you think the Packers have a better chance to get to the Super Bowl now that they’ve gotten that whole undefeated thing out of the way with a couple of games to go here? Or is it never a good thing to lose a game?
It’s hard to say. I don’t think losing ever helps. I think you try to go out and you try to win every game and you try to learn from your wins. I hate losing games. You do become pretty reflective when you lose. But that remains to be seen. They’re a very good team, I know that. In order to beat very good teams, you’ve got to play well. And you’ve got to play well for 60 minutes, kind of what we did yesterday. We’re playing Miami this week, we’ve got to play really well for 60 minutes in order to beat these guys. See if we can string two good weeks together.
I’m sure you’ve seen the footage by now, at least the highlights. It’s hard if you’re a Patriots guy to not feel pretty good for [Chiefs interim coach] Romeo Crennel yesterday.
Everybody loves Romeo with the Patriots. We’ve had so much success with him. To know what kind of man he is, and coach. That looked like an exciting win when they poured the Gatorade on him. The players really responded around him. He’s a great coach. I realized when we played them a few weeks ago how good that defense was. They showed up again yesterday.
It was 11 degrees when I left my house this morning. Do you want that this week? The next two games, would that be OK with you?
[Laughing] I don’t mind it. Going to school in Michigan and now being here for 12 years, I’ve had 16 years of cold-weather football. It’s just kind of that time of the year. We always practice outside, so you prepare for the conditions. I think we’ve done a pretty good job over the course of the year dealing with all the elements that come into play. If it’s cold, it’s cold. We’ll deal with it. Miami played in the cold yesterday, in the snow, and they played pretty well. I don’t think that had much of an effect on them.
How about playing on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day? Do you have those days already planned out so you can have a little bit of family time?
Yeah, it will be nice, the way the schedule works out this year. We don’t get Christmas too often. We don’t get Thanksgiving too often. So, when you do get it once every six or seven years, it’s nice. How Christmas falls on Sunday, and playing on Saturday, it would be a great way to spend Christmas after a big win over Miami. We’ve got to go out there this week, it’s a short week, we play on Saturday and we got back really late last night. So, everyone’s trying to get caught up on the Dolphins and get familiar with the new things that they’re doing. Like I said, they’re playing well. They’re going to give us everything they’ve got. Hopefully, we can go out there and play really well.
Do you mind if I ask what you said to Tim Tebow after the game?
I don’t remember. I just wished him luck the rest of the year. Like I said, as a quarterback, you look around over the league and you see the other quarterbacks and the way they lead, and you try to take things from what they do and apply those to your situation. He’s done a great job of taking advantage of his opportunities. That’s what professional football is all about. You never know when you’re going to get your opportunity. When you do get it, to be able to seize that opportunity tells me a lot about the character of that person. They’ve got a very good quarterback leading them.
Didn’t you say, “Maybe we’ll see you down the road,” like in the playoffs?
That’s possible. They’re leading their division. You never know what can happen. It’s a long ways from now. It’s three weeks. We’re not worried too much about the playoffs, really. We’ve got one thing on our mind as we always do. It’s on to the next week, and hopefully we go out and play very well.
You’ve been called many things, but I think it was the first time I heard you referred to as the nephew of God, on “Saturday Night Live.”
They spare nobody. Being on that set for a week a few years ago, it was a lot of fun. They’re pretty funny, that group of people, and they’re always coming up with ways to make light of some pretty funny situations.
You didn’t know they called you the nephew of God, huh?
I didn’t know that, no.
Chad Ochocinco is in for 54 offensive snaps, the most since he had 60 in Week 3 against Buffalo. Was that simply because of Deion Branch’s unavailability or was it part of the game plan in Denver?
It was part of the game plan. Obviously, without Deion playing, other guys have to step in and fill that role that Deion’s had for us. Chad was in there, he really got us started. That was a huge touchdown catch. Every week he gets more and more comfortable. I wish I found ways to get him the ball more, and I’ve got to find ways to get him the ball more. He’s really embraced his role. He’s a great teammate. He’s fun to be around. And every week he gains more confidence. Hopefully we continue to build on it. This week is better than it was last week.
Did you watch Miami video on the flight home or did you good off and have some fun?
I watched all the video. So, I got a pretty good start.