TB: It's going good. We're off to a good start. There's a lot to prepare for. I think this defense does quite a few things and schematically there are quite a few challenges to what they're doing. They've got a lot of blitzes, they've got a lot of different looks and they're really trying to confuse the offense, so I think we're really trying to tap in and understand their problem areas, which there are quite a few of. They're a very good team, very good defense.
Q: How much has their team changed since you saw them in the playoffs last year?
TB: They've added some different guys. [Jack] Del Rio is now their coordinator, too, so there's a little different flavor to what they're doing. But they're playing really well, I'll say that. You watched the Oakland game and Oakland didn't do much. They've lost a few tough games to some really good offenses that didn't do much either. You look at Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Houston, and Houston hit a few big plays, but they were very competitive in those games with a chance to win. I think they have lot of confidence in what they're doing. It looks like they're playing with a lot of confidence on defense. We have to bring our best.
Q: You have mentioned that you donot play against Peyton Manning, but knowing that he is on the other side, how much of a feeling is there that you have to bring your best game?
TB: I mean, in some ways I always feel that – that I've got to be at my best. I think when you play a team that has as good an offense as they have, there's a lot of – you can't go out there and kick field goals all night. You have to get the ball in the red area when you get it down there you have to take advantage of the opportunities you get. When you play better teams, there's not a lot of margin for error. [With] a team that has a good defense, can score a lot of points on offense, is good in the kicking game, it's not like we can say, ‘We can turn the ball over three times this week and expect to win.' I mean, you have to go out there and really play our best game. That's what it's going to take. But they're good. They challenge you.
Q: How would you characterize your bond with Peyton Manning? I remember last year when he was here and did not play, you guys got together after the game away from the cameras, so obviously there is some connection there.
TB: Yeah, he's a friend of mine. We don't talk much during the season, but I think he's someone that certainly I've always looked up to and admired and really respected the way he plays the position, the way he works, the way he leads. He's been a phenomenal player and we played against him a long time at the Colts – it felt like very year – so you see a lot of those games and obviously I have learned a lot from him.
Q: Do you ever get tired of talking about a quarterback that you never play defense against or your relationship with him? How do you prepare to handle the scrutiny about your relation to another player?
TB: At the end of the day, it's the Patriots versus the Broncos. I have a job to do [and] the defensive guys have a job to do. You're not blind to the fact that there's a great player on the other side of the ball that is capable of having a great performance. I think you realize that that's a part of the game. He's going to complete passes, they're going to gain yards. It's just a matter of us playing a better 60-minute game, being good on third down, being good in the red area, situationally being good. And if we have an opportunity to win the game at the end, that's what you've got to do. It seems like it has always come down to the end against [him]. When he was playing for the Colts, it was always close games. They've been in every game they've played this year, right down to the end. The two games they lost, the other team was in a four-minute offense and really made a couple critical first downs there at the end to win to not give them the ball back. They're a very good team.
Q: Kind of as a measure of that, do you have to do better with your group than he does with him group at the end of the day?
TB: We have to score more points than the other team. If they score 10, we've got to score 11. If they score 40, we've got to score 41. I think that's more the mindset. Hopefully the defense goes out there and plays a great game. At the same time, you have to expect to play a great game as well. You can't think that you're going to score 20 points and think it's good enough or 30 points and think it's good enough. Whatever they score, we have to score more. I think that comes down to if you're in the red area four times and you're two-of-four in the red area, it's not very good. You've got 20 points. If you're four-of-four, you're doing a lot better. I think that's the mindset you have to take and you have to take advantage. If you get a turnover, you've got to convert it into points. If you have a third-and-short opportunity, you've got to be good on those. And like last week where we had one third-and-short basically, we were in third-and-seven, third-and-eight-plus all day. It's a very well rounded team and I think you have to approach it that way – that it's going to take 60 minutes. All of us, everybody has to do their job, because they're capable of beating you in many ways.
Q: You've said you want to play as long as you can. Why would you want to do that at this stage?
TB: To play football. It's a great sport. I love coming to work every day. I love the challenge that the weeks bring: the mental challenge, the physical challenge. I love the training. I love being around my teammates. There's just not much else out there other than my family. I think it's like the abyss. There's nothing else. It's the edge of the cliff.
Q: What are your thoughts about Peyton returning? It's not a knee injury he's recovering from; he's had neck operations. Does it surprise you at all the he came back and what are your thoughts on his decision?
TB: Well, I know just from speaking to him a few times, his love for the game and his love for the competition obviously exceeds whatever he may feel or whatever he may not feel. I don't even know what he feels; I haven't talked to him about that. I'm sure he's healthy enough to play or else they wouldn't clear him to play. I have a lot of respect for him. I missed a whole year and it's hard to come back that next year. It's a challenge because you're very rusty – at least I was. And I think that to show what he's capable of doing – and he's had a great season and they're having a great season as a team. They've had a very tough schedule and like I said, they've been in every game they've played. It's really a credit to him and his work ethic and his leadership ability that their team is where they're at.
Q: In terms of your confidence in your offense, how important was that big second half last weekend?
TB: We've shown, at times, flashes of pretty good football. I think that was a pretty big part of it last weekend and scoring. [We] really capitalized on the opportunities that we got there in the second half from really the defense turning the ball over for us that we didn't do in the first half. It's really our inconsistency that's leading to us not scoring points, whether it was in the first half of that particular game or the first half of the Arizona game. So if we play well, we can move the ball, we can get the ball in the end zone. If we don't play well, if we don't do our job the way that people expect us and our coaches expect us to, we're not going to score points. If you don't score points you're not going to win the game. I think that's a big point of emphasis: our consistency, our consistency in practice. If you can make the play once, you should b able to make it twice and three times and four times, or else it's a concentration issue. We're trying to get better at that in practice and see if it can carry over into a 60-minute game, because I think that's really what were going to need this week.
Q: Of the dozen of games you guy and Peyton Manning have played, is there one that stands out as a favorite of yours?
TB: I haven't really thought about it. Not really. I haven't had much of a chance to reflect on anything. I mean, I think they're a very good team and I know this is going to be – you see when the schedule comes out and see that they're on the schedule that it's going to be a tough game. We've always played the Broncos tough. We've always had some tough games against them. They've beaten us at home a few times. We have a history of playing them last year a couple times. They're a little bit different as a team this year both on offense and defense, but they're a very good team.
Q: You've mentioned the red zone a few times and last week you lamented that you had not been very good there. What changed Sunday that you were so much better in the red zone? Was it play calling? Was it execution?
TB: I think was certainly execution. We ran the ball in, which is always the best way to score touchdowns. I think a lot of times defensively, they don't want you to run it in. They say, ‘Make them throw it in,' because when you're throwing the ball, there're really tight spaces. If you're on the five-yard line, you've got 22 guys on the field within 20 yards of one another, so the windows are tight. It requires really tight throws and great catches. Guys aren't going to be standing there wide open for most of the time. So a lot of times handing it off is the best way, and we had a few rushing touchdowns last week which were huge. We ran the ball well in the red area, too, so when you can do that and stay on track and not get behind on down and distance, you're going to be a pretty good red area team. It's just that I don't think we were that way the first three weeks of the year.
Q: Have you learned anything from Peyton Manning over the years, on the field or off the field?
TB: Well, I've always watched him and watched his technique. You study their offense and you always try to look back at the end of the year and see the teams that have really good offenses and really good passing games. Certainly when Peyton was playing for the Colts, it was one of the best passing games in the history of the league. It's really carried over to what they're doing in Denver. It's very much the same offense, from what some of the guys tell me. Obviously there are different players with different skill sets and so forth. I've always really looked at that offense as kind of one to emulate because they've been so productive for so long.
Q: Anything specific that he's done on or off the field that you've implemented in your own game?
TB: I don't know.
Q: As the face of the franchise here and playing with one team for so long, just like Peyton Manning was with the Colts, I am curious as to your thoughts on how it would be to switch teams at that point in your career and what it would be like for you?
TB: Honestly, I haven't thought about it, really. I haven't had the situation.
Q: Any thoughts from Peyton on that in your discussion on this transition?
TB: I haven't really talked to him much about that, to tell you the truth. Hopefully it never happens. Maybe it will, but who knows.
Q: Talking about running in the red zone, you guys ran well across the field last week. What do
TB: They're both really downhill runners that have very good vision. I think the thing coach Belichick said even in the last couple days is their ability to make yards after contact. Brandon had a touchdown run where I think he made contact with [Stephon] Gilmore at the five-yard line, and that ability to push the pile and so forth and to gain those hidden yards, that's where you make those critical yards. If you're hit at the five and you're stopped at the five, then you're throwing the ball on second down, but it ends up being a touchdown [if you can make yards after contact]. You can't block everybody; With the quarterback handing the ball off, the defense is going to have one more guy, so a lot of the times you try to get the right angles, the right blocking schemes, so that your back can be on the guy that's furthest away from the ball and if he ever gets to him, he's got to make him miss or run him over. Both of those guys are doing a really good job of that.
Q: When they are running that hard, does it kind of give the whole offense the smash mouth mentality to keep going forward?
TB: We talk about playing as a physical team and that's a big part of what we talk about on a weekly basis and a lot of that is the running game and that's running the ball effectively and stopping the run. If you can't do that, you're not going to be a very physical team. So controlling the line of scrimmage and the offensive line and the play of the defensive line, and certainly when the running backs are running hard and making yards after contact, that's what leads to controlling the tempo of the game and obviously scoring more points.
Q: How strange will it be to see Dan Koppen come back and not only play against the Patriots, but hike the ball to Peyton Manning of all people?
TB: Yeah. He's one of my best pals, so I'm happy he's got the opportunity. He's a great friend of mine, so we've had a lot of battles together and I miss having him around here, but that's part of this business. He moved on and he's got an opportunity and hopefully we play well against him.