TB: We always get such great support here as Patriots and I know tonight is such an exciting night for the city. Everyone is rooting for the Red Sox. It’s pretty cool, and hopefully they pull it off.
Q: The coaches all pull for each other. Do the athletes pull for each other as well?
TB: Yeah that’s our team. I’ve been here awhile so I’ve got to see a lot of Red Sox games over the years and watched them win a few championships. You know, you don’t take these for granted because you don’t know if they will ever come again. The Red Sox had a great year, and what they’ve done based on what happened last year shows everybody what fighting through adversity is about. They’ve obviously got a lot of mental toughness, and it’s a great thing to see, it’s a great thing to watch to go from last place or whatever they were last year to playing in the World Series.
Q: I know
TB: Well you’ve got to be able to spread it around, there’s no question about that. You know, find different people to throw to and make the right reads and find the guys that are open. It just happens to be if a guy is a particular read on a play and he is open, you let it rip, whoever it is. Then, it’s my job to sort through all that stuff and try to figure out who is open, or who is going to be open so I can start my read there. Gronk, when he is on the field, he is obviously a part of the reads. Whether he is the first read, the second read or the third read, it depends on the play and the coverage. Usually with me, the ball goes where the coverage dictates it to go for the most part. I just try to read it out and do the best I can making the read and making the throw.
Q: I know you get pretty bogged down each week with preparation for the next opponent, but how much time is there, at least for you, for self-evaluation and evaluating areas that you want to improve upon or areas you feel pretty good about?
TB: Well you go through that a lot. I think over the course of the season you go through the things that you think you need to do better and things that you are doing well, how you can build on those things. You evaluate those on a weekly basis because one week does not always lead to the next week in the NFL, so you have to get right back in the tank. You get out there on the practice field and work on the things you need to work on. As a team, ultimately we are trying to score points, and what my job is, like I said, is to find open guys and give them a good ball and try to get them in the end zone.
Q: I know you practice with the guys every week, but does the rhythm of the game change when guys come back from injury?
TB: It depends. I think it all depends on the player, the skill set and role they have in the offense. But Coach always says, ‘Your role is what you create.’ It’s really a matter of the players and whatever role they choose to create for themselves, that’s how much they are going to be implemented into what we are doing. Everyone who is active on game day has a role of some sort, and how that develops all depends on, like I said, coverages, what routes we had and whether we made the plays or not.
Q: Do you look back at your throws, because it’s not just the decision of where to go with it, but it’s also the type of ball you throw, whether there is loft, the trajectory and everything else? To me it seems that you are driving the ball a lot more this year. Am I accurate in that assessment?
TB: There are definitely times where I need to put more arc on the ball. That definitely helps. Sometimes it is decision making and sometimes it is execution and throws. Sometimes you try to drive and you don’t drive it, or sometimes you drive it and you shouldn’t have driven it. But it’s just, what is the coverage, and how do you envision the ball getting to the receiver? When we don’t hit them, you always evaluate them and you think, ‘Man I’ve got to do a better job. I wish I put a little more on this one.’ Some you wish you had done better, and some are pretty good. You are always trying to work to improve those things.
Q: So that is an aspect of timing as well? If you’re trying to get someone open in the end zone, so much must go into what type of throw to put in the small windows.
TB: You have to be aware of where the other players are on the field. If there is a safety that may not be involved with the particular receiver, but the safeties have a lot of bearing on how the quarterbacks throw the ball. The longer the ball is in the air, the more the safety has a chance to impact the play. So, sometimes you don’t want the safety to be involved so you drive it a little more. When they are not involved, you can put a little more air on it. Ultimately, whatever it takes to complete the ball that is what you are trying to do. Certainly there are some throws that I would like to do a lot of things different on. Whether I throw inside or outside or low or high, you’re just trying to complete it the best you can.
Q: You’ve had a lot of throws outside the numbers on the perimeter this season, which are harder to complete because of the distance. You haven’t had as many in the middle of the field. Have you noticed that? Is there any reason for that?
Q: Is there such a thing as working on touch in practice? Do you do it?
TB: Yeah, there are all kinds of different throws that you do in practice and things that you work on pre-practice and things we talk about and so forth. So, you know, definitely.
Q: In the spring Peter King quoted you as expressing a lot of confidence in your work with Tom House. Midway through this season, how much do you evaluate the mechanical work that you did this offseason?
TB: Well you’re just trying to work on getting the team in the end zone most of all. You have to try to be a football player and not think about [or] overdo things. When we do it well, it looks good and we get the ball in the end zone, and when we don’t there are definitely things we need to improve on, because our goal is to score points. When we don’t score as many points then we’re not doing as good a job as we need to. We’re 5-2 and we’ve got a big opponent coming in, so hopefully we go out and play our best. Certainly I expect to go out there and play as best I can. That would be hugely important for the team.
Q: Do you feel like your mechanics are good?
TB: Yeah. I feel really good.
Q: You mentioned first and foremost putting points on the board, but you guys are being outscored 44-9 I think in the third quarter. Are there two or three things that you can pinpoint as to why, because typically after halftime you guys have traditionally done a lot better?
TB: We haven’t done great on offense this year period, so there are probably a lot of places we’ve struggled: in the third quarter and at the end of games and third downs and red area and short yardage. So, I think we are trying to work on a lot of things, and it is basic overall execution. There are no special plays or things like that for situations. We just haven’t done a great job executing period at certain points. But you know, this a new week, so we are going to go out there and try to execute our best. If we do that, we’re confident that we are going to win. That’s the best part of football, is we get a chance to line it up every week. Guys are focused and losing sucks. It sucks to be around here when we lose, but it’s happened and you move on and try to do better next week.
Q: How much do you adjust in season when things aren’t working and how much leeway do you really have to change your routine and what you do to make things work?
TB: Well every week you are evaluating what you’re doing; what you’re doing well and what you’re not doing well. I think that’s a constant process that evolves over the course of the whole season. When you have certain players that have a certain skill set and do things well then you evolve more towards those. If those don’t work then you change those and if those guys go out then you use new guys and try to figure out what they do well. It’s a constant process of trying to do our best and what we think is best to move the ball down the field.
Q: Is the answer always adding work or changing how you work?
TB: Around here? It’s usually more work. So that’s what we’re used to. It’s just part of the process and I don’t think anyone is – you don’t do less, I know that. You work on doing more and get more out of the weeks and get more out of each other and find different ways to motivate. It’s all in the hopes of winning games. We’re 5-2, we’re at a decent place. We’re a long ways from the end of the season. Based on what we’ve done so far, there’s a lot of room for improvement. Imagine if we make the improvement. I think that is the positive.
Q: In basketball, they say that great shooters don’t care if they miss the first 10 shots, they still want the ball. They’re that good; they know in their heart it is going to get better. Do you bring that same mindset to these games?
TB: Well, you have a lot of confidence every week that as a player you are going to be able to get the job done and do what the team asks you to do. I think it’s important not to ride the ups and downs of the season and the emotion of, we won, we lost, everyone tells you you’re great, you suck. If you do, you’re going to have a hard time. You just try to believe in your process and believe that what you’re doing is the right way to prepare. There’s the law of large numbers where you’re not going to win them all, but you have to believe in what you’re doing. I think the process is, you have to believe in what you’re doing. If you do that, then you’re going to have good outcomes and you’re going to have bad outcomes. If you have a really bad process, then you will probably have a lot more bad outcomes than good outcomes. So, I think our team always focuses on the process and what we need to do to get better and understands that there are some days where you’ll probably get a little less than you deserve and some days you’ll get a little more than you deserve. That’s just the way it goes in sports.
Q: What do you think about the Dolphins when you look at their defense?
TB: They’re very good. They’ve been playing well all year. I feel like I stand up here [every] week and say how good of a pass rush there is, and they have a great pass rush. They have athletic linebackers and guys in the secondary that can cover. We’ve played some really good defenses this year that have challenged us and in a lot of ways this one presents another really good challenge. They are really active and athletic. They have veteran players and they a very good team. A very good defense especially.
Q: Do you see more athletic pass rushers in your division or in the league today than in the past?
TB: Well there have always been good rushers. That’s what good defenses have, and I think in our division, all three teams have great rushers. The Dolphins are as good as anybody. You look what they do with their front four and how they rotate guys in with different guys playing in different situations, first and second downs and then they have their sub rushers. They have rotations with those groups, and they are all fresh coming in after the quarterback. That’s what really the key is for the defense is to get to the quarterback. To get to the quarterback with as few guys as possible is even better because then you have more guys for coverage. So this team is one that can really get there quickly, and the coverage knows it so they are really aggressive.
Q: You mentioned execution. We’ve heard you say that and Bill Belichick say that, but what’s missing then? You’ve had training camp and all season, so what’s missing execution wise? Is it focus, preparation?
TB: Well, we’re trying to figure out those things too. I think it is a little bit of trying to figure out where we’re at and what we need to do better. Some weeks you think you have the solution, and you go out and it works, so you go, ‘Okay I think we figured it out.’ Then you go out the next week and it doesn’t, and then you have to reevaluate where you’re at. It’s just a constant process of evaluation and it doesn’t stop. Like I said, we could have won this last game by 50 points, but it doesn’t matter for this coming week. You’ve got to go out and try to do the same thing this coming week. So, you’ve just got to try as a team to improve, build confidence in areas that you’re good at and like I said, try to stay level headed about where you’re at and where you’re heading and what you believe in your team. If you get a good bounce this weekend, you might get a bad bounce next weekend. But hopefully you don’t rely on that. Hopefully you can just play good and leave enough margin of error where it doesn’t matter, but that’s not always the case. We’re trying to go out there and play our best, no question. But the other team is too. It’s stiff competition and the longer we’re out here the better chance we have to identify the things we’re good at and the things we’re not good at so ultimately we can do the things we’re just good at and score a lot of points.
Q: What’s your World Series prediction?
TB: Red Sox, man. Red Sox in five [games]. We’ll give [the Cardinals] one.