TB: There are quite a few things. I mean, they have one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. The way they rush the quarterback, the way they play the run, and how stout and how physical they are is pretty impressive. I feel like we’ve played some really good defenses this year, and I would say Miami’s defense doesn’t take a backseat to anybody. They’re really good up front, they’re really athletic at linebacker, and they cover in the secondary. I haven’t played against Brent Grimes much, but from what I see on film he’s really a true cover corner, and Reshad Jones and [Chris] Clemons, I’ve played against them a bunch, and Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson are really talented and experienced players, so it’s going to be a challenge for our team and for our offense especially. They’ve been playing well all year, and we have to go out and hopefully play our best game.
Q: When you look at numbers for a quarterback, it seems like win-loss record is the best gauge of success. What is the most important number after wins and losses?
TB: Truthfully, I don’t put too much into that. Really the team stats matter the most, and the individual stats – in football they’re not probably as telling. I mean, you have them and you keep track of them [but] the wins and losses is the most important – truthfully, it’s the only thing that’s important. As long as you win and as long as you’re doing what it takes to win and help the team win, then you’re in a good situation.
Q: You targeted
TB: Yeah, we ended up – we had to throw a lot of passes last week based on the situation in the game. Gronk is a good player for us – he’s a really good player for us – but we have some other guys that I really count on too that I’ve been playing with. It’s going to be a big challenge for our guys going up against a real good coverage secondary. I’m sure – they’re very much a game plan team, and they’ll have their different elements to their particular game plan, but even playing them last year, they’re a good defense. They’re very fundamentally sound, they have great communication, they’re a really smart defense. They really get after the football, so you’ve got to be careful, you know, where do you throw it? They do a great job, they don’t have a weakness at any position.
Q: When you first entered the league, what was the biggest adjustment that you felt you needed to make between Week 1 and Week 2?
TB: It’s hard to think back that long ago, I know it’s been a while. But playing quarterback in the NFL is always a challenge, whether it’s your second year, whether it’s your 14th year, or it’s your 20th year. There are no easy parts about the game. Things evolve and change every week with your own game plan, with your own players, with the defensive game plan, with their players, and it constantly evolves. There’s never a moment where it’s not extremely mentally and physically challenging. I think that you’re always trying to better, and hopefully you make improvements every year, not just from your first year to your second year, but you’re constantly trying to find ways to get better and improve and help your team win games.
Q: How much of a challenge has this year been? You had some key injuries with Rob Gronkowski and
TB: The pressure of a plan is always – it falls on every position, and certainly on the quarterback with the amount of decisions that you make and that you have to make over the course of the game. You rely on the guys that you trust and you rely on the guys you play with, and if they’re out there then you’ve got to have trust and faith in them because they have the trust and faith of the coaches. We haven’t been – we haven’t really played to our capabilities yet. We’re still trying to find our way and find out the things we do well and try to eliminate the mistakes we’ve been making, and it’s really a process for us. I certainly hope that this is our best week, that we can go out there and play our best, because we’re going to need to play our best.
Q: Why is playing Foxborough so difficult? You guys have had so much success there over the years; what is it about that environment that makes it so hard to win?
TB: It’s a great environment for football. We’ve got great support from our fans. I think truthfully it comes down to the execution in the games. Whether you play at home or on the road, I mean, you’re going to have to go out and execute well, make the plays, make the throws and catches and the blocks and tackles and so forth. We always expect a tough game whether we’re home or away, and I’m glad that we have great support from our fans. Hopefully we can keep up winning at home, that’s always important. Communication is a little bit easier at home on offense, but you still have to go out there and do your job and play your best.
Q: What is it about the moments when you have to make a last-minute comeback? What do you feel in those situations, and is that something you kind of live for? How much do you enjoy being able to pull it out in those types of situations?
TB: Those are exciting moments. I think the best part about those situations is every game you play is something that we’re all so lucky to be able to do. Playing in the NFL is a privilege, and to have those moments where you can play with all your buddies and your friends and go out there on the field and compete at the highest level is something you never take for granted. When you’re in a situation where you’ve got to come back from a deficit, everyone has to be at their best. I’m pretty much in the moment at that point. I mean, you’re just thinking play to play and hopefully making the best play possible. It ultimately comes down to decision-making and making the right throws at the right times. We were able to do that a few weeks ago, and hopefully if that comes up again over the course of the season we can do the same thing, but whatever situation it is, we’ve got to be prepared and ready for it.
Q: What does it mean to you to play for one team, the Patriots, for your entire career?
TB: I love playing for the New England Patriots. There’s no place I’d ever want to play, and there’s no owner I would rather play for, no coach I’d ever want to play for. It’s a great organization and it’s committed to winning, and I think that’s the best part of playing quarterback, is you just have to focus on doing your job because when you show up to work every day, you know that everything else is taken care of. It’s a great competitive environment, and it’s not an easy program. Coach Belichick makes it hard on the players to perform every day, puts pressure on the players to perform, and that’s probably what I enjoy most, really. The process, the journey is equally as important as the playing. The playing is the best part, it’s the best 16 days of the year, going out there and running out on the field and playing with your teammates and representing the organization.
Q: Both teams’ running games have struggled this year. We’ve seen Ryan Tannehill and how it has affected him, how has it affected you and your offense?
TB: I think different games have called for different things from us, and at times we’ve been pretty effective running it, other times we haven’t, and we’re trying to make those corrections. Some teams make it pretty hard on you to make the corrections because they’re pretty good at stopping the run, or certainly stopping the pass. I think there are quite a few things that we haven’t really done this year up to our level of capability. So hopefully we get to that point soon, we’re going to have to – all these games get more important as the season goes. Whether we’re running it or throwing it, we’re going to have to be effective regardless.
Q: Cameron Wake has been slowed by a knee injury. Did you notice that he looked a little slow from watching game film on him from last week?
TB: I mean, anyone coming back from a bunch of time off, it takes time to get acclimated to game speed. He looked pretty good to me, I mean he’s one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The way he played in the opener up until when he got hurt, he was a dominant force, and he’s been a dominant force last year and the year before. He’s had plenty of his fair of hits on me, so it’ll be a challenge to try to stay away from him. Our line’s got a tough test, not just with him, but with their whole front, with [Olivier] Vernon and [Dion] Jordan and [Jared] Odrick and Paul [Soliai], I mean they’ve got a great group all the way around. They’ve got guys that start, guys that come in as situational pass rushers and do a great job, and they can really get after the quarterback. It forces the quarterback to make decisions before he really wants to, and then that’s where they make mistakes, quarterbacks make mistakes. It’s going to be a tough test.