TB: They're both a big part of our offense and the tight ends have always been involved in our offense. I think the skill set of both those players really allows us to be flexible. Not only are they good blockers, but they can catch the ball too. You can run it behind them, you can play action pass. They've become pretty efficient in the passing game also, just to spread them out and being able to run them on different route combinations. They're very good players.
Q: Does that allow you to dictate what the other team can do with them out there?
TB: Sure, you're always looking for matchups out there. So Aaron [Hernandez] had a few of them last game, Rob [Gronkowski] had a few of them, Wes [Welker] has them, Deion [Branch] has them. Wherever the matchup is, that's where we try to go. That's part of being a smart football team, is trying to exploit the other team's defense.
Q: Are you a little bit surprised that the offense worked as efficiently as it did with the amount of practice you missed in the offseason?
TB: I thought we got off to a decent start. I think there were a lot of three and outs, we had penalties, we had a turnover. It wasn't a perfect performance by any stretch. I think we were efficient, I think we took advantage of the opportunities that we had but there were certainly more plays out there for us to be made. That's why we're back at practice - we're going to try to make some improvements. There are some games where you can't make any mistakes and that's what we're trying to strive toward.
Q: Can you talk about your confidence in
TB: Dan has been here for quite awhile. He understands the system, he understands the calls. When you play right guard and you have to move over to center you know all the center's calls. He's been a backup center for a long time and he's expected to go out there and perform very well, as he's done at right guard. All those guys have some position flexibility. Coach [Belichick] always says ‘the more you can do around here. If you only do one thing, you better do it really well.' Obviously those guys have to play multiple positions.
Q: The Chargers come in with a lot of hype so you have to eliminate all or most of the mistakes you made last week.
TB: Yeah, exactly. Every week you play different teams, they have more film on you. They're going to want to figure out how they're going to match up. You play against a team that's one of the most talented teams in the league every year. I think they've gotten off to some slow starts the last few years but it doesn't look like they're starting slow this year. I think that's really been a point of emphasis for them. This year you can really see it on film. It's an attacking defense, they have great players at every position. They have good corners, good safeties, linebackers, veteran defense. I think they run quite a few different looks for the offense. It's a short week for us too and guys in here are kind of walking around a little stiff, a little tight. We have to move on from last week's game and really get working hard on these guys.
Q: As quickly as you're trying to move on, you get the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award, is that a distraction?
TB: My goals are much bigger than AFC Offensive Player of the Week around here.
Q: Getting back to the tight ends, a lot of teams have one really good receiving tight end and one good blocking tight end. You seem fortunate to have two guys that can do both.
TB: Sure, they've been able to do both for us. They're going to need to continue to do more and continue to play at a high level. I mean it's been one week, there's not much to go on other than one game. We're trying to string it together for a very, very long season. We got off to a decent start. I wouldn't say it's our best performance I've ever seen around here. We won one game and now we have to move onto the next one.
Q: Are you surprised what Tedy Bruschi said about
TB: Everyone has an opinion on everything and none of it really means anything. The only thing that means anything are the guys in this locker room and what we do every day in practice.
Q: Do you feel good about him being here and what he can contribute?
TB: Of course, I have no problems with Chad [Ochocinco] at all.
Q: The veterans are suing the NFL now. And your name is the first name on the lawsuit again. You should change your name.
TB: Change it to what? Uno y dos? That will be further down the line. Yeah I have no comment on that.
Q: How different are the Chargers from when you faced them last year to what you saw in Week 1?
TB: They were pretty good last year. They led the league in defense. It was our fewest production all season when we played them. We had like 200 yards of offense - didn't do really well in the red area, didn't really run it great, certainly didn't throw it great, didn't protect as well as we're capable. We were pretty fortunate last year playing them. Hopefully we can execute better. They have a good team. They have a good defense. It's veterans, they're aggressive, they're tough, they can tackle, they're experienced, they have a very good offense that puts up points on the board and can do it very quickly. Special teams are much improved from last season. It's one of the best teams in the AFC, it always has been, they've been that way for a long time. They have a great quarterback so it's going to be a big challenge for us.
Q: How much are you looking forward to the home opener? Do you have any message to the fans?
TB: Yeah, start drinking early. It's a 4:15 game, they have a lot of time to get lubed up, come out here and cheer for the home team.
Q: The crowd has been a little bit quiet here for the past few years, hasn't it? You've mentioned that, other players have mentioned that. It's become an expectant crowd - they expect things to go well.
TB: We've spoiled our fans, is that what you're saying? If we make good plays, they're going to scream. If we don't make good plays, they're going to probably boo us. So we're going to focus on trying to make good plays. The crowd, it always helps when they're loud but we have to give them reasons to be loud. We have to give them reasons to cheer for us. Hopefully those muskets are going off a lot this weekend.
Q: Given how pass happy the league has become, does it put any extra pressure on you or Philip Rivers to produce in that fashion - to match each other?
TB: It's been a passing league for a long time. I think the running game is very important to every offense. Being balanced is extremely important. There's times where you have to throw the ball. You could be down late in the game, you need to come back, you have to be able to pass it when they know you're passing it. That's not only throwing the ball but getting open on consecutive routes. Being able to protect when they know you're going to only pass the ball. My job is to go against this defense and try to get our guys in the best position so they can do what they do well, ultimately play well enough over the course of a drive to get the ball in the end zone. Our defense will have to handle their offense. That's a big test for all of us on this team. It has to be a very complementary game for all of us.
Q: You've had the luxury of having
TB: Every center-quarterback relationship is special and Dan and I have had that for a long time. I've known Dan Connolly for awhile. He's been in there at center quite a bit - minicamps, training camps, we're always preparing for guys playing multiple positions. He's done a good job with that. He did a damn good job the other night, stepping in. He's going to need to be able to do that for the foreseeable future.
Q: Any difference in your eyes?
TB: I can't focus on what the center is doing. I trust those guys to do their job. I have plenty of things for me to focus on, plenty of things I need to do a better job of.
Q: When you watch film of the game, do you watch all of the plays or do you fast forward through the good ones and just focus on the mess-ups? How do you handle it?
TB: There are always corrections, but you watch it, you see the things that work, you see the things that didn't work and then you move on. You don't listen to TV copy and listen to everyone tell you how good you think you are and same thing for when you lose, how much you suck. You try to move on. You listen to your coaches, they evaluate the game, how they saw it, things we need to do better and then try to make those improvements. Because the other team, the Chargers, they're looking at this last game and they're seeing some things ‘Wow, well that didn't work, maybe we should try these types of things.' If you don't get them corrected, they end up being problems all year.