Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘It’s about this week,’ not revenge for ’09
|01.16.12 at 10:10 am ET|
Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, following Saturday night’s victory over the Broncos that put the Patriots in the AFC championship game against the Ravens.
While the Ravens stunned the Patriots in the playoffs two years ago — Baltimore’s only victory in seven career games against New England — Brady said revenge is not what is driving this team. It’s simply a chance to return to the Super Bowl.
“That’s all we need,” Brady said. “This is nothing about ’09 or ’10. This is nothing about last week or last season or last month or 10 years ago. It’s about this week. The clock’s ticking. And every second that goes by, we’re one second closer to getting to that game. We’ve got to use our time wisely, to repair, get our rest, and be ready to go out and face our biggest challenge of the season.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Did your hair get messed up or your uniform dirty at all Saturday night?
We had great protection, there’s no question about that. I thought those guys played well, really as they have all year. The offensive line has been our biggest strength on offense. It was that way in the regular season and it continues to be that in the playoffs. It was a great effort by those guys, and really all those guys that stepped in and moved spots. Logan [Mankins] is in there, and then Logan’s not in there and other guys are adjusting. But they all played really exceptionally well, both in the run game and pass game. We’ll have a good week of practice and face our toughest challenge this year.
Does that offensive performance qualify as being in the zone in your mind?
Well, I thought that a lot of guys played really well. A lot of guys were really on the same page. So, I thought that there were things we were definitely doing more to our level of expectation. And still, I think there’s ways that we need to be able to improve. A couple of turnovers hurt us. But for the most part it was really a good, solid effort. I feel like you win the game, and then immediately you’re thinking about the next game. So, there’s not too much you take from the game other than winning and moving on. That’s something we haven’t done here in a while, and it was good to go out there and get a win.
You told us that last year in the playoffs against the Jets, that doesn’t matter. A couple of years ago against the Ravens, it doesn’t matter But in a way, doesn’t it help? Wasn’t that a warning, an abject lesson if you let your guard down, you can get upset? And you could say the same thing heading into this game against the Ravens.
I don’t think the mindset is you’ve got to be careful, or to think really negative thoughts about what we’re doing or what we’re trying to accomplish. A lot of the focus and emphasis this season has been on us and what we need to do better. The Ravens, they’re the best team we’ve faced all year. There’s no one that’s going to overlook a team like that. It would be impossible to do. They present a ton of challenges in all three phases of the game. You watch them yesterday, they’re physical, they’re tough, they can cover. They’ve got some of the best players in the history of the NFL at their position, in [Terrell] Suggs and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata. You’ve got phenomenal players there. We’ve really got our work cut out for us. We’ll be excited about the challenge. We’ll use the week to prepare like we always do, and really try to be at our best — hopefully, be better than we were this past Saturday night.
Were you more intense than usual last week in preparing for this Denver game?
I try to approach it the same way every week. Because every week of the regular season’s important. Then you get to the playoffs, and I’m sure everybody naturally there — it’s an emotional game. So, the focus obviously heightens, the awareness heightens. It’s playoff football. Because you realize that if you throw an interception, if you fumble the ball, if you misread a coverage, that could be your season. It’s not like in the regular season where you go, “Oh, that’s OK, we’ll get them next week.” No, there’s no next week. So, everything has to be right. And you try to make everything right. And when you make mistakes, you’ve got to say, “OK, I made a mistake, I’m not going to make another one.” I thought our team really did a good job of that the other night.
It’s just really that time of year. You don’t make any excuses for your mistakes. You just try to play as best as you can. And you try to prepare yourself as well as you can, and you go out there and you see what it looks like.
Outside observations and psychologists from a distance looked at what was going on in that locker room getting ready for this game and said you’re clearly focused on getting that one-and-done monkey off their back. Was that something you gave much thought to in terms of motivating you and your teammates in preparation for this game?
Not really. I didn’t think about it like that. You know what it is. It’s not like coach [Bill] Belichick needs to say it. It’s not like we need to have a big team meeting to talk about, “Look, if we lose this game, the season’s over.” You don’t sit there and think about, man, we’re losing the game. I really don’t think that’s part of our mindset. You show up to work, you put the preparation in, you focus on the things you need to focus on, which is how to play your best, which is game-planning, which is your scheme, which is your execution. And then you go out to practice and you go through it. If it doesn’t look good, you’ve got to change some things and you move forward to the next day and the next day. And ultimately it’s the game, and you go out there and you see what it looks like.
Our preparation is solid. It’s been that way all year. We’ve won nine straight, so that’s been good for all of us. But it really means nothing now. Now, the slate’s clean. And when that Baltimore game ended yesterday, we know the opponent. It really comes down to one game. Hopefully, we can be at our best for this one game.
What does putting [Aaron] Hernandez in the backfield do for the Patriots and do to the Denver defense?
It was a bit of a new look that we haven’t done. Aaron’s pretty good with the ball in his hands. When you give him the ball, whether you throw it or hand it to him, he does a good job of making guys miss. We handed it to him on the first drive and he ran, I don’t know, 40 yards  for a huge gain to get us going. Then we hit Wes [Welker] with a touchdown pass. Aaron’s a threat back there. And then when you couple that with Rob [Gronkowski] and his ability to catch the ball, be an influence on the passing game, along with Wes, along with Deion [Branch]. And then with Danny [Woodhead] running the ball, and Benny [Green-Ellis] running the ball hard, it’s a good group on offense. Definitely, we have some threats out there. We’ve got to go out there and keep doing it. That’s the coaching, is keep doing what we’re doing.
I know you were focused on your task at hand, but can you be honest with us here: Your teammates, were they tired of Tebowmania? Were they tired of hearing about him?
We never talked about it. And even when we talked about them the first time, when we played them in Denver, coach Belichick really had the team focused on Denver as an entire team. If you don’t turn the TV on — I think you could judge it based on the questions you get, but if you don’t really get caught up in the hype, of the good or the bad, then you just focus on what you need to do. We knew that Denver was much more than a team than certainly one individual. And I think that’s really what the team focused on. Whoever the media chooses chooses to hype, whatever player, we realize that — I was focused on [Elvis] Dumervil and [Von] Miller and their secondary and their coverage and their scheme and so forth. That’s where our focus needed to be. I thought we did a good job of doing that.
How does the psychology, the mentality of the team, change, or does it at all change, when you apply the kill shot just before halftime — two touchdowns in a minute, 57 [seconds], you’re up 35-7?
No we didn’t think about that at all. We went out there at halftime, and I think what everyone was saying was, OK, it’s 0-0. We’re not changing what we’re doing. We’re going to go out there and try to play a good second half and play smart football and try to go get a win. We came out in the second half and started fast, we got a touchdown on the board. We were moving the ball. We turned the ball over going in, at the 15, 20-yard line, whatever that was. We didn’t change our mentality. I thought we executed a little bit better than we’ve been executing. We need to keep executing well so we can score points.
In general, do you prefer the defense bring extra pass rushers?
I think there’s risk/reward to bringing pressure or not bringing pressure. If you’re not getting there with four guys and you’ve got to bring extra guys, then that’s what you’re going to do, which leaves fewer guys in coverage. It’s tough to single cover our guys all day. Because our guys, when they catch it, they’re going to make some yards with it. If you drop more guys into coverage, then I’ll have more time back there to figure things out.
It’s like on offense, there’s different strategies we use. We certainly don’t use one. We try to mix in all, so they’ve got to be prepared for all of them. I think that’s the same thing Denver tried to do to us. It wasn’t all blitz. There’s definitely times when they covered us. But if we’re hurting them, they’re going to change. I’m sure we get into this game, they’re not pressuring us and we’re hurting them, they’re going to start pressuring us. And vice versa. We’ve got to be prepared for everything. Last time we played them, we played them last year, they pressured quite a bit.
They have a good team. They’ve got a ton of talent, the guys that I really respect and have played against a bunch of times. So, it should be a great game. I’m looking forward to it.
Are you and this offense better equipped than ever to handle pressure because you have the greatest slot receiver ever, and you have two tight ends? I assume that you’re more inclined to go to your tight end and your slot guy when you’re being pressured as opposed to a deep guy.
Yeah, definitely, yeah. Because they’re getting open a little bit quicker than sometimes the guys on the outside part of the field get open. And a lot of your adjustments to blitzes are on the inside part of the formation. Between Aaron and Rob and Wes on the inside, and what Deion was able to do on the outside of the field the other night, along with Julian [Edelman] made a few catches, Chad [Ochocinco] had an opportunity that I missed him on. There were definitely some plays we had some great chances on, both the inside and the outside. Once again, it goes to where they cover. If they’re not going to cover Deion running up the sideline, then we'[re going to try to make that play. If they do, we’re going to try to throw it somewhere else. It’s just a matter of where they’re not.
Does every receiver have a hot route? Does every receiver have an adjustment they make if they see pressure or if you call out that pressure’s coming?
No. Sometimes you’ll call a play where all five guys have short routes. So, if they do blitz, I have choices. There’s some routes where guys have deeper routes and then maybe one guy will be the adjuster based on a blitz look. It can vary. There could be two guys. There could be three guys. It’s just a matter of a play that’s called vs. the pressure that we face.
And Welker always does, I’m guessing.
No, not necessarily. Not necessarily. Because sometimes he’s got a different route, he’s focused on something different. And then you can protect to his side and say, I don’t care what happens on Wes’ side, but if they come off the other side, Rob, you’re going to be the guy. Or the running back, you’re going to be the guy. It’s really just a matter of what we’re trying to attack.
Kurt Warner last week said the pressure for you to be perfect out there every single game eventually takes its toll and wears you down. Do you agree with that at all?
No, I don’t. No. Because I feel my job is to go out there and score points. If I’m not scoring points, I’m not doing my job. Our offense, when coach puts us out there, that’s what he expects us to do. I’ve said this before: He never says, “All right, guys, we’re just going to run out there and run four minutes of the clock and punt.” He says every time we got out there we’re trying to score — and we’re trying to score touchdowns. The pressure to score touchdowns, every quarterback should feel that pressure, if that’s what pressure is.
Do you know during the week, based on the quality of your practices, how your team is probably going to play on Sunday?
I think it gives you a pretty good indication of the focus and really the heightened awareness of the team if you have a good week of practice. There’s some times when practice is a little bit uneven and you’re not really sure how it’s going to go. There’s other nights where, let’s say we play on a Sunday, Saturday night, you’re sitting in a team meeting room and you say, “You know what, we know what we’re doing. We’ve got a damn good plan. We’re prepared.” And you can go out there and play with confidence.
Now, believe me, there’s times when we’ve felt that and you go out there and lose. I don’t think it’s 100 percent. Ultimately, what decides the game is your level of execution on Sunday, not your level of execution in practice. But if you practice well, it certainly gives you a much better opportunity than if you practice poorly.
I’m assuming you were pretty confident this week leading up to this game — you as a team.
Yeah, we were. We definitely were.
We named this game coming up as Uggs vs. Suggs.
[Laughing] Maybe I’ll send him a few pairs to soften him up before the game.
Is there any fan left in you? When you see the Niners win and advance, does it mean anything to you. Or is it strictly business now?
Well, I’m not a an of the 49ers anymore. [Laughing] I think there’s a lot of people in the Bay Area that are happy. A lot of people that are friends of mine are happy. My college roommate was at the game. He had fun. One of my really great friends, family friends, was here this weekend cheering for us. He was pretty happy when I saw him after our game.
You surprised a lot of people when you said last week you didn’t watch the Denver-Pittsburgh game live. Did you watch Houston-Baltimore live yesterday, or are you getting to work on that today?
You know what? I did. I did watch that game. Which is pretty rare. I was watching a lot of the other games. Yesterday I was probably more of a fan of football by watching the games. And I definitely had a lot of breaks. I got started on my Baltimore stuff. It was a lot of football yesterday.
So you saw Ed Reed get carried off the field.
I did see that.
[Laughing] Believe me, I love Ed Reed. If I could be a defensive player, I’d be Ed Reed — or Ray Lewis; between those two guys. We’ve got guys that are getting banged up, too. I’m sure Ed will be there. This game means everything to our season. If he has any chance of playing, which I’m sure he’s got a chance of playing, he’s going to be there. And he’ll be playing good. I can promise you that.
Does revenge for ’09 play any role in your week of preparation. Or does the fact that the winner gets to go to the Super Bowl provide all you need?
That’s all we need. That’s all we need. This is nothing about ’09 or ’10. This is nothing about last week or last season or last month or 10 years ago. It’s about this week. The clock’s ticking. And every second that goes by, we’re one second closer to getting to that game. We’ve got to use our time wisely, to repair, get our rest, and be ready to go out and face our biggest challenge of the season.