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Tom Brady on D&C: ‘The margin of error is always slim in the NFL’

08.26.13 at 8:38 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, a few days after the team’s first preseason loss, a 40-9 shellacking at the hands of the Lions on Thursday.

Some have speculated that the loss is good for New England, as it gives Bill Belichick more ammunition to keep players from getting overconfident.

“He does a good job with that, whomever we play,” Brady said. “Even when we played Philly, when we played Tampa, there were things we did very well, and there’s things that we didn’t do very well, and there’s things against Detroit I would say mostly we didn’t do well. And those are the things he, coach Belichick, constantly tries to coach off of.

“So, the margin of error is always slim in the NFL, as we know. When you don’t play good football on the road against teams that have superstar-quality players at a lot of positions, that’s the way it goes. And it doesn’t take much. And it doesn’t take much in a half to get down like we got down. Things just happen quickly.”

Added Brady: “The more emphasis coach Beliichick puts on getting it right in practice and getting it right whenever we’re asked to do it, the more likely our chances are of getting it right in a game. He’s always so big on practice. He wants us to come out this week and really have a great week. And that sets the tone for everything. So, that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

The Jets had a rough weekend, as Mark Sanchez was hurt and rookie Geno Smith struggled in Saturday’s preseason game vs. the Giants, leading to criticism of coach Rex Ryan. Combine that with injuries to the Bills’ top two quarterbacks (EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb) and the AFC East is a division in flux.

“I saw some of their game the other night,” Brady said of the Jets. “They’ve made some significant changes to their team on defense; they got rid of a lot of players, they drafted Geno Smith. Buffalo’s made a bunch of changes, a bunch of coaching changes, drafted a quarterback. And Miami — our division, no one knows how it’s going to play out. We’re trying to get better like every one of those teams. We get both those teams [Bills and Jets] right out of the box, so we’ll see where we’re at here pretty shortly.”

While in Michigan last week, Brady stopped at his alma mater and gave a speech to current University of Michigan players. The three-time Super Bowl champion said being named a captain of the Wolverines was the greatest accomplishment of his football career.

“I’ve had so many things that I never would have thought would have happened in my football career, whether that’s getting a scholarship offer to go to a major college football program — I was hopeful, but to have that happen was great,” Brady said. “To have the chance to be named captain there was an incredible thing for me. That was something that was really taken so seriously at our school. It was talked about from the day that we walked in there, of how the history of captains of Michigan, what they represent and what they stood for.

“That was really a special moment in my life to have really your own peers — as I was saying, the guys that know you the best — when they choose you that, for me it was the greatest thing my teammates could have ever bestowed upon me. When someone gives you that opportunity to lead them, it tells you how they feel about you.

“I have all the respect in the world for the guys that I played with who go through that program. Much like the New England Patriots, where I learned to compete was at Michigan, because the competition was tough and that suited me very well for when I got here. The New England Patriots were another program that it’s about competition, and it’s about who’s willing to put it in every day. I think that’s a big part of the reason why I’ve been able to stick around here for my 14 years, because that’s still important to me: the competition in practice, the coaching, all the little things that you try to make a part of your daily life so that you can put yourself in a position to be a leader and to play at the highest level. That’s where I learned everything, back at Michigan.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On his first year with the Patriots in 2000 and if he ever thought he might get cut: ” No, I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t think that way, looking back on that situation now, I would say that maybe I should have been a little worried, considering that no one ever keeps four quarterbacks. But coach Belichick, he decided to stick with me. I was lucky to really have a chance that while first year to be in a situation where I wasn’t forced to play and go out and lose a bunch of confidence, because you’re not really prepared to play. I wasn’t prepared to play my first year. So, that’s all that would have happened, was I’d have gone out, got beat up and lost a ton of confidence in what I had to do. I was able to sit there, watch, learn, grow, grow into my body a little bit, improve my core mechanics. And then my second year I went in there, really competing for the backup job and ended up winning it against Damon Huard.  Like I said, that competition at Michigan really set me up for that competition in Patriot training camp my second year. I won the job, and then obviously Drew [Bledsoe] got hurt and I had a chance to play. That was a huge turning point in my career because of the chances and the opportunities that I had before me really prepared me for the opportunity that I got here.”

On if he might play in the last preseason game: “I’m not sure. Coach Belichick, he tells us always to be ready. I’m going in there, we have practice today, tomorrow, Wednesday, I’m preparing to play like I always play. He’s never one to say, ‘Look, you guys are going to have this week off.’ He just says, ‘Be ready to play for 60 minutes, and I’ll make the decision.’ So, that’s what we as players do.”

On the aggressive and loudmouthed Lions: “They’re a very hard-nosed team. They play a very particular style. We played them on Thanksgiving Day a few years ago in the regular season and it was a battle for about three quarters, and then we pulled away at the end. They’ve made the playoffs once in 14 years. They’re always hungry every year to prove that they’re one of the good teams. ‘€¦ Hopefully what happened in Detroit doesn’t happen to us again. But that’s up to us to determine.”

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