TB: They’re one of the best football teams in the league, so it’s going to be a good challenge for us. They’re 5-0. They’re playing great in all three phases, so we’ve got to bring our best to beat them. But they challenge you in all areas. They’ve been one of the best teams in the league for a while. So, it’s good to play an NFC opponent, we’ve played two of them. Hopefully we can go out and beat these guys, but it will be tough.
Q: There is a higher expectation that
TB: Whenever that happens, who knows? I feel like I’ve kind of talked about it a lot the past five weeks. If he is there, he’s there. If he’s not, he’s not. We’re going to try to win anyway.
Q: How frustrated are you that, with all the work that is going on at practice, the offense continues to have problems scoring at times?
TB: Well I mean our job is to go out there and score, so we’re not doing a great job of that. The execution has to be a lot better. That’s what we’re working on. We’re trying to improve in all areas. It’s frustrating when we don’t score, but we’re going to try and do better this weekend.
Q: Are you personally frustrated though?
TB: I just want us to score points, so whatever it takes to score points, that’s what matters. I think you let your emotions get into it and feelings and so forth – I mean realistically, you have to come up with a plan. We have to figure out to score points. I said after the game, we’re not going to win many games scoring six points. So, if we score six points this weekend we probably won’t win. We’ve got to do a lot better than that.
Q: How hard has it been to keep your expectations for having Rob Gronkowski come back from entering your mind when the game is going on?
TB: Well during the week, whoever is out there is out there, and the plan is the plan. You could lose guys the first play of the game, and the whole plan that you worked on all week is out the door at that point.
Q: Is it hard to take the emotion out of saying, ‘We need you,’ when Rob is out there all week but then not on Sunday? It must be disappointing and fatiguing.
TB: It’s an emotional game, so I think all emotions play into what we are trying to do. I think you have to focus on what your job is and then try to do it the best you can, regardless of who is out there, because someone can get hurt this week, but you have to keep moving on, like what happened with Vince [Wilfork] in Atlanta. We lost him early [and] we still had to go out there and play a game. We’re 4-1 so I think that’s the good thing. Hopefully we can get to 5-1. That would be a pretty good start. We had our chances last week, didn’t do it, but the great part is that we have an opportunity this week. We just have to go out and play a lot better than we played last week.
Q: You talked on Monday about the slim margin for error with all the injuries the team has dealt with thus far. Do you think that this week that margin is even slimmer knowing what New Orleans presents?
TB: Well, especially when you play good teams, this team is 5-0 so they haven’t been beat all year. It shows you that they are playing good and they are playing good in all three phases. We’re going to have to play good in all three phases as well. It can’t just be a defensive game or a special teams game. It has to be a team win. When you play the best teams, you have to be at your best. At times we have done some good things and at times we haven’t. We’ve been inconsistent, and when you’re inconsistent, you don’t get the results you want. So, we’ve got to be more consistent and we’ve got to do things better in every phase. The things that I focus on are the things that I can do to help our offense. The better I play the more points we’re going to score.
Q: When you talk about poor execution and mistakes, how much is that a result of backsliding and guys making mistakes on things that they see, or is it that you’re still progressing and guys might be seeing that particular situation for the first time?
TB: Every week in the NFL is its own thing. It never carries over, so you have a great win and you come back the next week and that win didn’t really lead to a win or a loss. It depends on how well you prepare and ultimately on how well you play. Just because you had three good days of practice doesn’t mean you are going to win. Just because you had three bad days of practice doesn’t mean you are going to lose. You have to ultimately go out there and play well when that’s your job to play well in the games. So, the better you play the more chance you are going to have to win. It really doesn’t matter what happened seven days before. It matters what you do on that particular day, the matchup you have and the plays that you make on that particular day. The margin for error is always slim in the NFL. The competition is always at its best. There is nobody on the Saints that doesn’t deserve to be in the NFL. They’re all really good players and we have to play really good to beat them. We’ve got to make the plays when we have them and if we don’t we’re not going to score points. If you don’t score points, you’re not going to win. We have to do a good job with obviously starting with a good week of practice. That’s what we control, and then you have your plan set and you have to go out and try to execute it.
Q: How would you describe what the tight end position has been able to do for you guys so far this season?
TB: The tight end position is a very key part of our offense. Hooman’s [
Q: With all the extra time you’ve had to spend with the young players on offense, has your own preparation physically or with your mechanics been affected at all this year?
TB: I have worked extensively on that too. That’s all good time. That quarterback-receiver or tight end relationship gets built on and you just keep working at it. There are really no wasted days for us. It doesn’t matter how well I throw it if they don’t catch it, or how well a route they run if I don’t complete it or throw it in the place I want it to be. So, ultimately a reception is a throw and a catch, so the more we can work on it together, it doesn’t matter if you make a great throw or run a great route if it is not complete. So we’re trying our best to complete as many as we can. At times we haven’t done it as well this year, but hopefully we can do it better as we move forward.
Q: The long-term impact of concussions in football has been getting a lot of attention lately with this new “Frontline” investigation that aired last night. How much of that is something that you think about, when you are on or off the field?
TB: I don’t think about it at all. I’m not overly concerned.
Q: You’ve faced a lot of Rob Ryan defenses in the past. Obviously they are running some new things this year, but as you prepare for them, is the most difficult part what you haven’t yet seen on film?
TB: He’s a great coach. He was here and we got to play against him when he was the linebackers coach here, and I always enjoy competing against a Rob Ryan-led defense. He has his guys always prepared and ready to play. He is certainly a guy that studies the opponent’s offense and tries to figure out ways to stop what he will perceive that we do well. So it’s not like he’s just going to let, or try not to let things happen that we’ve done well all season. He’s going to try to take those things away. That’s kind of the mark of what he does. He gets his matchups and he lets those guys attack the quarterback. They play with a lot of anticipation and a lot of confidence and we’ve got to go out there and try to do the same.
Q: The Saints defense has 15 sacks and seven interceptions from seven different players. What do you see from their pressure and where do they generate the bulk of that from?
TB: Well. the defensive line has two ends that are pretty dynamic pass rushers. One has four sacks and one has three sacks. They’re getting a lot of pressure up front. They have a lot of blitz combinations that really frustrated Chicago early in the game last week and caused a strip-sack on like the second play. He has his rushes and you have a lot of different combinations, but they get a lot of pressure from the d-line. It’s really both those things.
Q: On the radio you said that at a certain point we need to start making NFL caliber plays. What did you mean by that and why did you say it?
TB: Well you know it when you see it. It’s executing at a very high level at a consistent basis, especially in critical situations. When you play good teams and good defenses, the windows are small, the throws are tight, the catches are tight. You’ve got to be at your best. We haven’t done a great job of that this year. We just haven’t scored a many points as we’re capable [of] for a number of reasons. We are trying to correct those things, but the more often you can do the right thing, be dependable, consistent, and that’s all of us, the better we will be as an offense, he more consistent we will be as an offense. It can’t be 50/50 in the NFL. You can’t be up and down. In baseball, you’re an All-Star. In football you’re four-and-out, five-and-out, six-and-out, turnover, no points. You have to be good as an offense on a consistent basis. If the plays are there you’ve got to make them.
Q: Realistically, have your expectations changed from in years past when four or five touchdowns were considered realistic, based on the current personnel?
TB: We’re always trying to go out and score points. That’s what we’re trying to do, and that’s what we get paid for. Coach puts us on the field to score points, and that’s what we’re expected to do. Whoever is out there, whatever personnel, every play is designed to make positive yards, and a lot of them are designed to score touchdowns. But, they don’t always do that, so we’re trying to figure out how to do that and do better than what we’ve done the first five weeks. Hopefully we can start this week.
Q: Rob Gronkowski has been such an important part in the past of what you’ve been able to do in critical situations. From what you’ve seen from him in the last couple of practices, do you think he can make a contribution to you being better in a critical situations?
TB: Well he has been a great player for us since he got here. He’s always looked the same to me. He’s Gronk, that’s what he is. He comes in every day and works hard. He’s got a lot of excitement and brings a lot of energy to the team. He’s a great player. What he has shown over the past few years, that’s what he is.
Q: Can he help right now?
TB: We’ll see. I mean it’s not up to me. I haven’t made those decisions. I’m just kind of waiting like everyone else. Whenever it is, it is. We’re 4-1, we’ve won four games without him. If he is not there this week, we’ve got to try to go 5-1 anyways. Hopefully when he does get back out there we will be more productive.
Q: When you are playing a team with an offense like New Orleans, is it just as important for this offense to put together the long drives to keep them off the field?
TB: I think we’ll try to put together any drive at this point to score points. Long, short, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to score touchdowns. This defense really forces you into some long drives. I don’t think they’ve given up many big plays this year. They have played from the lead a bunch, which is why they probably have a lot of sacks, interceptions and have been ahead in a lot of these games. We’ve got to try and score quickly, methodically, whatever it takes because they have a good offense, they have a good team, they play well on special teams. We are going to have to play a very well rounded game.