TB: Yeah, I am. It will be fun. It will be a great game. It will be a tough game, but it will be memorable for a lot of reasons. I certainly remember our last trip, so it will be a nice experience for all the players kind of coming together. We’re leaving after practice tomorrow, so hopefully we can go out there and play well. That’s the most important thing.
Q: Is it a thing where you guys maybe tell the younger guys to stay focused on a trip like this or does everybody already know the deal going in?
TB: I mean, Coach Belichick does a good job preparing us for stuff like this. But it’s really a road game. We’re leaving a few days early and it’s going the opposite direction, so I think it’s going to be important to get there and kind of get used to the environment a little bit, but we had a good day yesterday at practice. We’ve got to have two more good days and at that point all the physical stuff will be done and just go over there, rest up and try to go out and play well.
Q: Can chemistry be built on a trip like this where you guys are going to be together so long and spending so much time together that you can maybe hash out what’s gone wrong?
TB: I think there’s definitely an element of that, yeah. Yeah, I think you're together for extended periods of time, which is always fun. People are away from all their other commitments, certainly. At a home game, there are a lot of commitments that different players have, so when you go away, sometimes it’s really nice for the players to get some rest, to get some extra preparation, that extra time with your coaches. On this particular trip, we have more time than that.
Q: Do you use the bye week as extra motivation? You've obviously motivated every single week, but now if you can get through this and give everything you’ve got, you’ll get some time.
TB: Yeah, well the bye week is something that everyone looks forward to just because you get a chance to kind of take a deep [breath]. It’s like the second half of the game. You go in at halftime and you have a chance to reevaluate some things. But that will come and it would feel really good for that two week stretch to feel good about what we’ve done four of the last five weeks. But they're going to make us earn it. This is a good team that provides a lot of tough challenges and we’ve already lost to two of these NFC teams, which they’ve actually beaten. We know it’s a good football team and we have to go out there and play well.
Q: How do the Rams use Cortland Finnegan? Does he flip on the slot guy? Is he an outside check guy?
TB: He's predominantly – he’s inside a lot and he’s at different spots than the inside. I think wherever they want him to insert himself in the coverage in order to have the most opportunities to make plays, that’s where he's going to be. In regular defense, their base defense, he's outside. They don’t match a ton, although they do flip sides on occasion, but for the most part against us he’ll probably be inside all day.
Q: A guy you must hate to go against, but you probably have an appreciation for the way he plays?
TB: I do. You know, he competes his butt off and he's smart, catches the ball well. He's a seventh round pick, so you just are always fighting for your life out there. Even though he's had a lot of success, you see he wants to continue to get better and improve and he's still a young player. I have a lot of respect for him. He plays really hard. Wes [Welker] is very much the same way. Wes plays his butt off too, so it’s kind of our strength against one of their strengths.
Q: This streak that the offense is on with 16 straight games with at least 250 yards. What would be a few key reasons that have allowed you to have that kind of success moving the football?
TB: I'm not sure. I'm not sure.
Q: Scheme? Personnel?
TB: Well, it’s all those things. Offensive football is about 11 guys being on the same page. No matter what you call, you don’t call plays that aren’t designed to gain significant yards. If you execute them the right way, they're productive and there aren’t a lot of negative plays. I think last week we had 80 plays; there were only two negative plays out of 80, which is pretty good. So, if you're not going backwards and killing yourself with penalties and turnovers and really not beating yourself, you can usually put yourself in a good position to win the game. Gaining yards is certainly important, but scoring points is more important. You’ve got to be able to move the ball well enough to put yourself in the positions and ultimately make the plays down in the red area.
Q: Travelling to London, are you aware of the NFL’s efforts to expand the presence of the league or are you just focused on the Rams?
TB: We’re focused in on the Rams. I think that’s their job and we have a job to do. I know they put a lot of effort into it and I know Mr. [Robert] Kraft is excited about us really having a chance to represent the NFL again and go over there and give the fans something to cheer about. It was a lot of fun the last time.
Q: Judging by the way you guys came off the field after your win last week, is it hard for the fans maybe to understand how difficult it is to win every week? Is it a lot easier fixing everything when you continue to win?
TB: The winning is important because you’ve only got 16 opportunities and you can play really well for 58 minutes and then not play well for two minutes and that’s the game. So the important thing is the win or the loss. Whether the fans appreciate that or not, that’s not really our concern. We’re trying to win every week, but whether you lose by one or 30 or win by one or 30, the record is the same. And really, it doesn’t have any bearing on the next week either. Part of the mental toughness is putting what happened [behind] and moving forward to next week without wasting any time or energy spent thinking about last week and using all your energy to move onto the following week so you can be at your best that week. That’s how you string wins together. That's why you don’t win one, lose one, win one, lose one, because at the end of the day, you're mediocre and you're watching all the good teams play. The good teams win, win, win, win, win and if you lose you win, win, win, win. That's just how it is. Every team is trying to do that. Every team is trying to build on that. We’re pretty much like every other team.
Q: So you move on quickly, but in that moment that you get into the locker room with your teammates after the game, is that the best part of your week as a professional athlete?
TB: Yeah, that’s a great part of the week. Probably the four minutes that you get to enjoy it after the game until you start thinking about the next game. So that’s part of the marathon part of the football season. It’s a game of attrition and it’s for the mentally strong and it’s for the mentally tough and the physically tough. That's where the good teams begin to separate themselves. Kids aren’t even trick or treating yet, so we’ve got a lot of football left.
Q: After the game, people were asking you whether this offense has found its identity. Is that really a big deal to you in terms of, if you're winning games you don’t really care what your identity is week to week as long as you're getting it done at the end?
TB: Well, yeah, and I think winning is the important part, not so much of how you do it. I think when you look over the course of a long season, you're going to identify areas that you need to be better at. When you look at a handful of games, but on an individual basis, it comes down to a few things and you’ve got to be able to do those things and I think our identity is what we set out to accomplish at the beginning of the week. So when Coach Belichick comes in like he did yesterday and he says, ‘These are the things we need to do to win. This is the opponent we’re playing. There’s a specific way to play these guys. This is how we’re going to do it,’ then that’s what you try to do. Usually when we do those things, we win and when we don’t, we get yelled at for an hour the next day and we usually have lost. So you play a specific opponent like the Rams that we haven’t played, that we’re not very familiar with that has a specific style of play and I guess we have to understand it by studying it and you go out and practice against it and understand it better so that you’re as prepared as you can be when the game happens on Sunday. And you go, ‘Oh that really surprised [me]. Wow, I didn’t realize that was the move this guys makes. Wow, I didn’t realize how quick that guy is to read the quarterback.’ Well, yeah, that’s what Belichick has been saying all week, so that’s what we have to be able to do.
Q: Is this week a little tougher to prepare for a team you don’t know well based on all the travel? Might there be a bigger danger to be surprised on Sunday?
TB: Well, there’s an element of that every game, that you’re not going to practice everything that they're going to do. They have a week to prepare just like we do, so it’s not going to be the same stuff. They game plan for us as we game plan for them. They have things that we’re not going to have seen that you have to be able to adjust to, whether you adjust to it immediately like on the play or on the sideline or at halftime. Those are the adjustments you have to make. You can prepare as hard as you want, but if they don’t do it, then really….that’s just part of football. And the longer you play, the more experience you have, the less things really surprise you because you can reflect back on past seasons and games. ‘Well, yeah, this is how we’re going to do it. This is how we should approach it.’
Q: That ability to put the last game behind and move on, is that about maturity? Is that something that’s gotten easier for you as your career has progressed?
TB: Yeah, and I think I had a lot of great examples and mentors when I was a younger player of guys that could put good games past them, could put bad games past them and you move forward as a team. We have a relatively young team. We have some great captains; we have some great veteran leadership that really has to carry the torch and say, ‘No, guys, this is what we need to do. This is how we have to move on.’ The better the veteran leadership is, the better the younger guys understand what they need to do. And they do their job and you do your job and everyone is doing their jobs and you all move forward with hopefully winning games.
Q: Have you guys talked specifically about improving in the fourth quarter on both sides of the ball?
TB: I mean, we talk about a lot of things over the course of the week. We talk about starting a game. We talk about finishing the game. We talk about overtime. We end up talking about everything and really you're trying to do everything well. That's the goal every week: to go out and play well for 60 minutes-plus if you need it, like we did last week. There aren’t really many instances where we – or ever – where we just feel like we can go out and just roll our helmets out there and say ‘Oh, this is going to get it done.’ No, because we have to go out and earn it. Part of the NFL is earning it every week. You play very good teams like we’ve seen this year and they make you earn it for 60 minutes. And if they beat the Patriots, they're going to have to play a good game. And whoever we beat, we’re going to have to play a good game.
Q: Since you’ve been here, this team has had a better record in the second half of the season. Is that something that gives you confidence, knowing that if you get through the first half at 5-3, you're probably going to improve as you go on?
TB: I hope we improve. I think that’s our goal, but like I said, it’s not like you just think just because we’re going to show up here every day and break a sweat, we’re going to get better. I think you have to make conscious efforts to listen to your coaching, be mentally tough enough to accept the coaching, so that you can be a better team. And we work at that, and we’ll work at that this week. We’re going to work at it next week. End of December, we’re going to be working on that. That’s part of our job. The pressure is never off. It doesn’t go away. It’s just you build and you build and you build and you try to get better and better and better so that when it matters the most, you're at your best.
Q: Is there anything to the idea that as a right-handed quarterback it’s easier to throw to the right side of the field, so maybe you're more likely to throw to that side?
TB: I’ve never really thought about that. Truthfully, as a quarterback, every shot or every throw is a straight throw. If I'm looking at you I'm throwing it straight. If I'm looking there, I’m throwing straight. Because I’m just aligning my body really to make…I mean, you can’t throw curve balls out there or anything like that.