TB: A few times.
Q: Any final thoughts on it?
TB: No final thoughts. My mom thought it was a penalty, does that count?
Q: Did she call the league?
TB: No more thoughts, we’re moving on to Denver.
Q: You said on the radio this morning you expect to see Wes Welker on the field for this game. What made you so sure?
TB: He’s a tough guy so he’s played through everything. This is a big game for both teams so you have to expect their best players and I’m sure all those guys will be ready to go.
Q: Have you guys been able to replace Welker’s production? You look at
TB: Yeah, and Julian has had some production outside. Danny’s had good production when he’s been in there. We’re trying to spread it around to find different guys. Typically whoever is open gets it. I think that spot has always been big in our offense. The tight end spot has always been a productive spot. But yeah, I think we overall can all do a better job. We’re going to need to going forward, this week especially. All those spots: the slot spot, the tailback spot, this is a team where we know we’re going to need to score some points.
Q: Would I be oversimplifying if I said that Welker’s production has been replaced?
TB: I haven’t really thought about it – I haven’t put too much into that or evaluated that spot. I’d say our offense right now is very different than it’s ever been in the past. Everything that we do has a different feel to it. We’ve had so many new players, like every team has new players, but we have a lot of new players. We have different schemes; we’re trying to find different things that work. For the first time last week, we basically had guys healthy so we don’t even know what we’re good at at this point. We’re trying to figure out – we only scored 20 points so whatever we did couldn’t have been that good. We’re going to try to find ways to score more points than that this week.
Q: It happens a lot in the league, but is it going to be weird to see your go-to guy on the other sideline?
TB: Like you said, it’s just part of what happens. We knew this day would come at some point, based on when he went there. You always follow the guys that you know in the league and you see how they’re doing. He’s having a great year so I would expect nothing less.
Q: With what you accomplished in 2007 offensively, do you have a unique appreciation for what the Broncos offense is doing this season?
TB: I think a lot of that, when you’re going through it, you don’t realize how good it is until you really step back and reflect on it. That was, I know, a great year for us. You watch what these guys are doing and they have better numbers than we had. It’s incredible to score points like that. They have a lot of guys that can make plays with the ball. Everybody contributes, that’s what good offenses do. The backs contribute, the tight end contributes, the receivers contribute. They’re all scoring touchdowns. It’s not like you can just go in and stop one guy. Our defense has its work cut out for us. Offensively, we know we have to go out and score a lot of points. We can’t have a lot of three-and-outs and certainly turnovers give them extra possessions to score because the teams that have done that have really gotten blown out. You turn it over and give them extra possessions; you’re going to have a very hard time winning.
Q: Guys who have played here have said that during Indianapolis week in the past it was different in the building with everyone tuned in and locked in. With Peyton Manning going to Denver, has that just transferred over?
TB: Our guys are pretty locked in all the time. That’s the thing Coach [Bill] Belichick always does a great job of. He’s pretty relentless. He never takes it easy on the guys and says, ‘Alright, this week is kind of an easier week for us.’ Or ‘It’s a relatively unimportant game.’ Everything is always, ‘We have to put our max into it. We have to get our best out of everybody.’ When you play a team that’s 9-1, you realize there’s not much margin for error. You can’t go out to play a very average game and expect to win. These guys have played well all year. They have consistent, dependable players that have all done a great job for them. We’re going to have to try matching it.
Q: I guess what I’m trying to say is the coaches didn’t have to do much motivationally to push anyone during those weeks. Does it feel that way again?
TB: I think we realize the caliber of team that we’re playing. They’re 9-1, they’re playing really well. They do a lot of good things offensively. They have some explosive, dynamic players defensively. They have 13 or 14 interceptions, something like that. They have – the kick returners, you watch them return kicks. They have a great field goal kicker. This team is one of the best teams in the league. They were one of the best teams in the league last year; they’re one of the best teams in the league this year. It’s going to be a good game.
Q: On a personal level, is this more special because of Peyton?
TB: I don’t have [to] play against him. I think that’s the thing. It’s more of the defense that plays against him. You realize that when you play a good team, another good quarterback, that you’re going to have to score a lot of points. We try to score points anyway, but this is a very good football team, led by a great quarterback, one of the best of all time. I’m excited to see how we do. It’s early in the week.
Q: You mentioned finally having everyone healthy on the offensive side of the ball. How has
TB: Well he has really, since the middle of last year; he has really emerged and developed into that role. He got to learn from Kevin [Faulk] for a little bit and you know Danny Woodhead was here to help last year, but he has really taken it on this year. I think the best part is he really understands the importance and magnitude of that role and takes a lot of pride in it. So, it’s a hugely important part of our offense, and for a guy that it means so much to, I mean you’ve seen what he’s capable of in the first week of the year and last week. He gets single coverage, he gets out. It’s a typical position because there’s blocking, you have to run the ball, you’ve got to get your blitz pickup, you’ve got to get out into the route, you’ve got to get open, you’ve got to catch the ball, and you’ve got to do something with it. He can do all those things, so he is a very, very good football player.
Q: We’ve spent a lot of time asking you about Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. You don’t have to face them, you have to face that defense and you’ve had success against them in the recent past. Are they the same group you have faced previously and what do you expect from them?
TB: It’s a little different. Yeah, the last time we played them, it’s a lot of the same guys from last year. I think we’re quite a bit different though, so it’s a little bit of a different matchup from that sense. We know what they are capable of. They’ve got some big guys up front, they’ve got some athletic guys like Shaun Phillips and Von [Miller] [who] are great pass rushers. [They have] really athletic linebackers and some experienced guys in the secondary. So, it’s a good group. It’s a good group. They force you into getting rid of the ball quickly, especially when Von is going. He is as dynamic of a pass rusher as there is in the league. Like I said, we’ve got to score some points. These guys are a good team. They are explosive at points, so we have to be able to go out there and put together a bunch of good plays. The other night was pretty good. Hopefully we can do similar to that except get the ball into the end zone.
Q: You mentioned that fact that you don’t quite know who you are yet because of all the injuries you have had. This was the first time you have had Shane Vereen,
TB: We’re doing a little bit better in that sense. I think our execution has gotten better over the course of the year and we have made a bunch of improvements. KT [
Q: Knowing yourself how difficult it is and how much work and preparation goes into having sustained success in the NFL, do you have a unique appreciation for what Peyton Manning has been able to do for a long time?
TB: Sure. I think there is – it doesn’t feel like work because it is fun and you get to do something that you love to do. There’s a lot that goes into it; there’s a lot of time and energy. You have good days and you have bad days and you try not to ride that emotion up and down. I mean he’s got those guys going since the moment he walked into that program. He seems to have brought a different dynamic to it and they’ve been winning a bunch of games. They were the first seed last year and they got off to a great start this year. He’s a great player, a great motivator and a great leader. He plays at a high level on a week-in, week-out basis, so it is going to be a huge challenge for our team.