Q: Running backs haven't been as involved in catching the ball as much this year - can you touch on that? And when they're not catching balls, can you talk about how they're involved in the passing game?
TB: Well, why they haven't caught a lot of balls? There probably just hasn't been as much opportunity for them. I'm always trying to find the open guy, so sometimes they're in protecting and no really a part of the play. Sometimes between Wes [Welker], Deion [Branch], Rob [Gronkowski] and Aaron [Hernandez] who have really gotten the ball quite a bit this year, the read takes you there first.
Q: Every year since you've been here, there is a back who is in the 40 or 50 catch range and it seems like their total will be around 30 total. It seems like it's a problem.
TB: Probably when we evaluate after the season, that's one of the thing's we'll probably try to figure out as well. It's not like they're not going out for passes or it's not like we sit there in the meeting and I say, ‘I'm not throwing it to the running backs this week.' There're times when they've made very important plays this season getting the ball. Kevin [Faulk] made a big play last week before the two-minute drive. All those guys are capable of catching the ball and it's my job to get it to them.
Q: Speaking of open guys, one of your past favorites was Jabar Gaffney. What made him such a good receiver in your eyes?
TB: Jab could do everything well. I think that's his versatility, he's got good size, he's got long arms, he's got good speed, he's got good quickness, he plays every position, he's smart. He's just one of those guys that, from the day we got him here, he was just so reliable and dependable because he knew what to do and he did it well. You gain a lot of trust from the quarterback when all those things matchup. I was bummed when he went to Denver and I was bummed when he went to Washington and here we are playing them.
Q: It seems like you have to face new bookend defensive ends every week. What are these two guys, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, like?
TB: Yeah, they're good, very good. They can rush. They're good in coverage, too; I think that's the thing that surprises a lot of people because they're 260, 265-pound guys. I feel like every week, we're talking about their pass rushers. We've played quite a few good pass rushers this year. I think these two guys are right up there in terms of their ability to set the edge in the running game, to collapse a pocket, strip sack the quarterback. Even if they're not sacking the quarterback, they're forcing the ball out quickly. They're good players I think. They're the key to the whole defense.
Q: What has
TB: Yeah, he is. I've really enjoyed getting to know him after playing against him for a bunch of years. He's a Bay Area guy, so you've got to like that about him - another California kid. He's got a great attitude - really professional. You see the way he takes care of himself before practice, after practice. He's always out there doing extra conditioning. He's really a true professional, and that's why he's been around. That's why he's been productive really everywhere he's been. It's great to have him on the team.
Q: You mentioned all the pass rushers you've seen this year. Have you been more focused on getting rid of the ball quickly this year because of that?
TB: I think that's always - when you play good pass rushers, you've got to understand that at some point, they're going to be there. So you just don't have all the time to sit around and make decisions, so you just try to get the ball out. A lot of it comes down to coordinating the routes with the protection and then ultimately getting the ball out fast enough. If you know that these guys are really aggressive pass rushers, than you have to throw the ball quick. You have to screen them, you have to trap, you have to draw, you have to do all the things it really takes to keep them off balance as well. But if you just let certain guys tee off, play from behind all day, it's going to be a long, hard day.
TB: Well, there's more versatility in the inside part of the field because they can go in any direction. If you're an outside receiver and you're split outside the numbers, there're not many places you can go, so it usually takes a little more time to get in your route. When you're an inside receiver, you have every direction available. So that's why those guys typically have more catches probably for less yards because they have to deal with more people inside, but they also can catch the ball quick, short, intermediate, as well as down the field. So, there is just more route versatility within what they're doing.
Q: Bill Belichick said there was some help watching the Redskins play against the Jets last week. As a quarterback, how much is it to see the Jets, who you're familiar with, face off against the Redskins, who you are not familiar with?
TB: You know, I don't see much of that. I don't watch much of the defense because I'm not really familiar with Washington's defense. I watch the Jet's offense. They've very different than what we do though. I try to watch all the games just to get a pretty good understanding of how they play and their strengths and weaknesses and the things that I think we need to do to be able to take advantage of those things.
Q: Bill Belichick was talking about how different the Redskins' nickel is from their base defense. Is that why they've been so effective on third down?
TB: They have quite a few different schemes and I think that's the challenging part from the quarterback's standpoint. They do a lot of different things in their nickel groupings. So, you have to be prepared for a variety of looks. They can pressure the quarterback, they play a lot of double coverage and everything in between. You have to prepare for a three-man rush; you prepare for an eight-man rush at times. I think that's what keeps an offense off-balance is that you're really not sure of what you're going to get from down to down. They really seem to mix it up.
Q: When Jabar Gaffney was here, he said that as a number three receiver, he approached the job and practiced like a number one receiver. Did he elevate himself in your mind to a number one type receiver?
TB: Sure, yeah. I mean, when he played at Houston, he was productive. Then did he go to the Eagles for a half a season? Then came here at the bye week and basically took over as starting receiver. Like I said, he could do it all; he plays every position. I think that's the thing makes him such a good receiver, is his versatility. There are times when you're in the slot and then you have to go outside and now you're in a bunch of receivers or you're in a combination route with another receiver. Whatever it was, he'd always figure out a way to understand what he had to do and then get open.
Q: What is it about the complexity of this offense that makes that third wide receiver position so hard? Is it that versatility?
TB: Especially when you have a guy like Wes and a guy like Randy [Moss], [like] at the time when Jab was here. You design plays to get - you put Wes in certain spots and you put Randy in certain spots and then that third guy is like, ‘Okay, well I have to fit in here.' And I thinks that's what he did such a great job of - when you're designing a play for Randy, that Jab, you just say, ‘Okay, we'll he'll be over there and this is what he's going to do.' A lot of times you don't have that versatility within your offense to be able to just put another guy in there. You can't put a guy in the slot because he's never been in there, so that scheme won't really work. You can see he's doing that at Denver when they had Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal; it was the same thing. And then now with the good group that they have in Washington, he fits right in.
Q: With a win and Jets loss you can clinch the division. Can you talk about the stretch run here?
TB: I think it's important for us to go out there and try to play our best game this weekend. What's in our control is how we're able to go out there and see how we match up against a team on the road that has some very good players, very good schemes, very well coached. It's going to be a challenging game. I'm excited to see if we can go out there and finally play for 60 minutes and see what that looks like.
Q: Of late, you guys have been winning turnover battles. How important is it at this time of year and how important is that for you personally?
TB: Extremely important. There is nothing that correlates more to winning than turnovers. It's hard to overcome, like the Buffalo game, we had four interceptions. It's hard to win those games. The Giants game, we had four turnovers. It's hard to win those games. I'd like to think if I didn't throw those interceptions, we'd be in a better position than we are right now. We're trying to make a concerted effort not to throw them, as you always saw. It's been a huge point of emphasis of really the Giants game that we lost and we've done a better job of it. So, hopefully it continues on.