TB: You know what, I feel great. I’m really excited about this weekend and all the work that this team has put in to this point. This is really when you see what you’re all about. You go through 40 some odd practices and the whole offseason conditioning program to get to this point, so there’s no better place to play than Buffalo, with how challenging it is. It’s a great crowd, a great atmosphere for football. We’ve had a few opening days there, and it’s just a great environment for football, so I’m really excited.
Q: Can you see yourself playing football at 40 years old and beyond?
TB: Well I hope so. That’s my plan, and that requires obviously a lot of things to go right for you. I’m just glad that I have the opportunity this year. I know, really about four or five years ago when I hurt my knee in the opener, you really realize how much you love to play the game and how much you love playing and having the opportunity to go out there and compete. So, I’m lucky to have this opportunity to be the starting quarterback on this team, this year. You know all these games are so important, especially these division games, and I’m glad we get to start right in the division and see where we match up.
Q: Do you feel like there is a little more onus on you this year given the other parts of the offense that are new?
TB: There is always an onus on the quarterback. The pressure of professional football and the pressure to do things right, I’m sure that’s in every job. Certainly in football, a lot of times it does fall on the quarterback. From my standpoint, that’s kind of where I want it. I want guys to look to me for communication, to do the right thing and to hold me accountable, and I expect the same things of them. So, it always changes from year to year. Players come and go, coaches come and go, and to be able to adjust and adapt is a big part of the NFL. It’s a big part of the success of franchises and organizations. You have to be able to adapt, you have to be able to adapt within a game scenario. Things rarely go as you anticipate them, and we have to be prepared to make adjustments this weekend. We have to be prepared to make adjustments on the opening series. That’s a big step in our growth as a team: to be able to put forth a game plan and then implement the game plan and if it doesn’t work, be able to adjust. That’s as much about football as anything.
Q: What will be some of your biggest challenges and how will you overcome them given that you are missing some of your familiar security blankets?
TB: Well there are always challenges to determine really what kind of team you are going to be. Like I said, the mental toughness, the work ethic, the core principles and fundamentals of the game have not been tested under game conditions. They’ve been tested in preseason, in practice and workouts, but nothing is like the games. Especially when there are 70,000 people in the stands, they’re televised and there are millions of people watching on TV. That’s where you see the best of the best. That’s what it is all about. We all are excited to see where we are at. There is obviously a lot of room for improvement, and hopefully we’ll try to improve throughout the course of the season. That’s what it takes to be a successful team in the NFL.
Q: How would you like to make your NFL debut against the Bill Belichick defense?
TB: I mean I have a lot of respect for Coach Belichick, and we’ve been together for a long time. I mean he’s never changed. He is so consistent as a person and as a coach, we know what we are going to get every day, and he has high expectations for us and our team. When things don’t go right in practice, he does everything he can to make it right.
Q: How would you like to be in E.J. Manuel’s shoes I guess is what I’m asking?
TB: Well, I’m in my own shoes. I’ve got a lot to prepare for myself.
Q: You sound like Bill.
TB: Well, no it’s the truth. I’m not worried about what E.J. is thinking about right now. I’ve got plenty to think about myself right now. I don’t really want to be thinking about someone else’s job. That’s for them to do. Especially an opponent, and the more time I spend thinking about the opponent, then the less time I spend thinking about my job. I’ve been working for the last 10 days on this team and just trying to get prepared for them. That’s where my energy and focus has been.
Q: Despite all the changes in Buffalo, is there a sense of familiarity for you with the Bills defense because you have faced Mike Pettine’s defenses before?
TB: Well, I mean the identity is definitely the Buffalo Bills and what Coach [Doug] Marrone has really brought to the team. There are quite a few new players at the linebacker spot and the secondary, guys that I haven’t played against much, so I tried to study as much film as I could on those guys so I could understand how they like to play. They’re going to establish their own identity. It is certainly not the Jets or the Ravens. Coach Pettine, yeah, that’s where his familiarity comes from, but he has different players with different strengths. How he chooses to implement his system will probably depend on how well they do. We’re kind of preparing for everything up here. We’ve established a database of plays that we’ve run against them over the years, and we’re trying to prepare for everything. I’m fortunate to be able to play in all those games where I can recall all those things, but they present you with a lot of challenges. They have a lot of good schemes and it is going to be really challenging for us this weekend.
Q: What strengths does
TB: Well he is incredibly hard working. He loves football, and he wants to do the right thing. He’s had a lot of production in the league when he has been on the field and been healthy. Hopefully he can continue to do the things he has since he got here. I don’t want to put any expectations on him. That’s really for him to earn, but he is a big part of our offense and hopefully he has a very productive year.