Tom Brady and ‘mentally tough’ Pats ready to turn up the heat in Miami for an AFC East title
|11.28.12 at 1:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO -‘ Tom Brady is a lot of things. All-world quarterback. Super-model spouse. And weather watcher – especially when it affects what he does on his workdays.
The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and 80 degrees in South Florida for the 1 p.m. kickoff between the Patriots and Dolphins. Still, the Patriots chose to practice outdoors Wednesday as the begin preparations.
What’s at stake?
If the Patriots win, they clinch the AFC East by virtue of their 5-0 record in the division and a four-game lead over the Dolphins with four games remaining. They will own every tie-breaker as the Dolphins will already have three division losses.
“Well, there’s always motivation for us to go out there and win and this is a great opportunity for us,” Brady said. “We haven’t played these guys all season; it’s the first time getting a shot at them and we play them down there in their stadium. They won last week against Seattle, so I hope we go play well. We’ve been playing well since we lost to Seattle, I think, and hopefully we can keep it going. But they present plenty of challenges for us and they’ve beaten some pretty good teams this year. It should be a fun game.”
With a division title for the 10th time in 12 seasons, the Patriots will assure themselves of a home game in the playoffs. But of course, their sights are set much higher, like a No. 1 or 2 seed and a first-round bye.
“It’s very important,” Brady said. “We’re always trying to win every game we play and certainly playing against the Dolphins, a team we know very well playing them twice a year, it would to be a nice little day if we can go down there in Florida, which is always a tough place to play, especially this time of year when we haven’t really played a warm weather game in a while. So it will be fun.”
About the weather, how does he and the team go about preparing for that warm weather when it’s cold up out on the practice fields like Wednesday?
“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” Brady said. “We’re out on the grass fields in 35 degree weather; I don’t think it’s going to be 35 down there on Sunday. But we’ll just try to be a little bit mentally tough. I think that’s the only way you can do it.”
Here’s the rest of Wednesday’s Q and A with Brady in Foxboro:
Q: You guys have scored on special teams a few times, which means the offense doesn’t have to go back on the field right away. Aside from the points, is there a benefit to that for you like more rest or more time to plan?
TB: It’s a great thing to happen for a team ‘ a return for a touchdown, whether it’s a kick return or a defensive turnover that results in a score. It’s great for an offense to sit on the [bench] and score points when you’re not out there scoring points. We’ve been fortunate the last few weeks. I don’t think there’s really an advantage for our offense sitting over there; I’d prefer to be out there playing. But if we’re scoring points, that’s a great thing.
Q: Lately you guys have been capitalizing on those defensive turnovers. Do you feel a need to validate those turnovers with points and why do you think you’ve been effective at that lately?
TB: Well, complementary football is always important for us and I think that’s what happens: you make a great play on defense and get us the ball and ‘ bam ‘ you capitalize on it with points. I think to go back out there in three plays and kick it back to them or turn it back over to them is bad football. But when you can complement each other and the offense scores a touchdown, you kick the ball down on a kickoff and you stop them inside the 20 with your great special teams play, and then the defense can go three-and-out and they punt it back to you, with a good punt return. That’s how you want to play football. And certainly scoring points off turnovers is a big part of that too, and I’m glad we’ve been able to do it.
Q: I know there’s always room for improvement, but at this point in the season do you feel like you guys are clicking?
TB: I think we have. We have done that. But we have to continue to do it; I think that’s the important thing. Last week’s game is going to have no bearing on this week’s game. That’s not the way football works. Whether you win or lose, you have to put the previous week’s game behind you and move one. We’ve had a few extra days to prepare. I think guys are really up to speed on what the Dolphins do defensively, the personnel and so forth, scheme-wise. Now it’s just a matter of us going out there and having some good days of practice to see if we can get our timing and then go play a game.
Q: Is the offense running as efficiently as it has all year?
TB: Like I said, it’s kind of a week to week thing. I think last week we played well. Hopefully we play well this week. But I don’t think you can just assume that we’re going to go play well next week. I think we have to go out and prove it. We have to go out and go through our week of practice and try to execute well in practice so that leads to confidence and anticipation going into the game, and then going out there and executing in the game.
Q: You have a lot of great records and statistics, but how much does it mean to you to have 24 touchdown passes and only three picks? Bill Belichick touched on the fact that you’ve always focused on ball security. What does that mean to you?
TB: Well, that’s important. It’s important to an offensive football team not turning the ball over, whether that’s myself throwing t or whether the back is carrying it or the receiver is carrying it or it’s an offensive lineman that doesn’t give up an edge on a strip sack. We’ve done a great job of that this year. I think it all goes together. It’s not one guy taking care of it; it’s a whole offensive system. Every time we talk about what we want to do each week, it always starts with no turnovers and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. We need to continue to do a good job of that. That’s leading to a lot of our success, both offensively and defensively: the fact that we’re not giving them the ball.
Q: Do you have a preference for being under center or in the shotgun?
TB: Tell me the play and I’ll tell you my preference.
Q: Just in general, it seems like this year you maybe are under center a little more than we’ve seen in the past. Would you agree with that?
TB: Yeah, I think we probably have been under center a little more. For what reason, I’m not sure.
Q: How does that change for you in terms of how you read a defense when you’re under center versus in the shotgun?
TB: It doesn’t change too much. I think I’ve done enough over the years where I don’t think about it much. Maybe you’re able to see the field a little bit better when you’re not turning you back to one side of the field on a drop back. But I think the important thing is to be able to run the ball from under center and throw the ball from under center and do the same thing in the shotgun so a defense can’t really queue up, ‘Ok, when they’re in the shotgun, all they’re doing is passing.’ I see a lot of teams around the league probably use shotgun more now than they’ve ever used it in the history of the game, but there’re a lot of runs that still come off of that.
Q: Do you have a tendency to change a play more from either place?
TB: Not necessarily.
Q: With the amount of weapons and talent you guys have, does there need to be a level of unselfishness to make it all work as well as it does?
TB: I think that’s part of being a part of a team and being part of our organization is being unselfish and doing what’s best for the team always. It’s not what’s best for the individual player or the individual position; it’s how we’re going to score the most points and in order to score the most points, we need to do what our job is. If your job is to run through the defense and clear out for another player, then you do that the best you can. We’ve found guys to be able to do those things. So, it’s not about rushing yards or passing yard or receiving touchdowns; it’s about winning games. That’s most important.
Q: Bill Belichick said that with the changes in staff, the Dolphins have made a lot of defensive changes. What do you see from their defense?
TB: Well, it’s a different scheme than what they’ve done in the past, so I think part of what we’ve done the past three or four days is understand what they do and how they do it and when they do well, why things are going well for them and vice versa. It’s definitely a challenging scheme. I think they have some very versatile players within their group that allow them to do those things. They have secondary guys that blitz a lot. They have linebackers that cover a lot. It’s definitely a blitz-type team, so you have to be prepared for everybody.
Q: No Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain to deal with back there?
TB: No, not this week. They might be somewhere this week, but they won’t be down at the stadium.
Q: Do you ever think about all the things that have happened that you’ve been a part of down in that stadium?
TB: Yeah, we’ve had ‘ there was a long streak of games where we had not won, and then we beat them I think in overtime ‘ was it in overtime when we beat them on the pass to Troy [Brown]? Yeah, that was a very memorable day. We’ve had quite a few memorable games down there and each game against this team has always been exciting. I watched the game from last year at the beginning of last season; that was a fun game. Some great memories from that game. Some not-so-great memories, too.
Despite winning their last two road games against the Dolphins, South Florida has traditionally been ice cold to the Pats. They are just 14-33 overall on the road against the Dolphins, and Brady is 5-5 all-time against the Dolphins on the road.