TB: They’re all pretty big, physical guys. They have some really good players over there, especially in the front. Good run technique and certainly a lot of the scheme is built to stop the run. They’re a very good defense and Coach said they were fourth-rated in the league and one of the best first down defenses in the league, which leads to second-and-longs and third-and-longs and then they get their blitz packages going. You can’t really fall asleep at any point against this defense because they have a lot of negative plays in the run game and they create disruption in the pass game too. We played them in Week 2, had a tough time against them. It wasn’t a good performance by our team – by our offense certainly – by our team it was actually pretty good; our defense played great. But we’re going to have to go out and do a lot better this week.
Q: How difficult is it for you to keep this thing going with pieces falling down around you?
TB: We’ve faced some different challenges. I think in the NFL, a lot of teams face challenges it’s just really how you deal with them. We’ve lost some guys, dealt with some issues, like every other team. We’re handling them OK, we’re 5-1. It’s a decent start. It doesn’t really get you anywhere at this point and I think we’re still looking to make improvements. I think that’s the most important thing, to try to improve every day in practice and the walkthroughs and hopefully it ultimately translates to better execution over the course of the season. But we’re not really where we need to be right now; we’re trying to get there.
Q: You’ve been here a long time. Do the injuries around you put more of a burden on you?
TB: Well, part of my job description is what it’s been for a long time. Regardless of who is out there with me or other captains that have gotten injured or different guys that have come and gone, that happens with every team too. I’ve just been fortunate to be here and see my way through a lot of it and try to be a good example, be a good leader and certainly try to play well, that’s the number one thing. That’s how you probably stick around, is play as best you can. We’ve been lucky to be here and play in a place that I really love to play for a team I really love to play for.
Q: How do you reconcile the emotions of losing a key guy but also move forward to do your job?
TB: When you lose someone like we did with Vince [Wilfork] or Jerod [Mayo], it’s tough. But I’d say a lot of teams deal with it too. You don’t want to feel sorry for yourself. What you realize is somebody has to fill in and do the job. As much as you hate to lose guys, there’s nothing you can do about it and the season doesn’t end. You have to keep fighting on, just as they would want us to, just like they did when I went out, just like they did when guys like Rodney [Harrison] went out. We’ve lost some pretty key, critical guys over the years – Ty Law got hurt at one point. I mean, there are a lot of guys who have been injured. You just have to try to fill the spot and other guys have to pick up the slack. Hopefully our execution on offense is better, that would take some pressure off the defense who have been playing great all year for us.
Q: Are you as calm as you appear in important situations? Is it important for you to convey that sense of calm to your teammates?
TB: I’ve been around for a little bit so I’ve been in these situations. Good execution usually solves a lot of the issues. When you’re not executing well, you don’t score many points. I think you’re just trying to focus, really, on what the situation is, not what has happened over the course of the game. You get in a situation where you need a touchdown at the end, that’s the situation you’re in. You talk about those situations, you go through in your head the type of plays you’re going to run, the type of reads I’m going to make, the type of defenses you’re going to see and then you go out and you try to execute. Everyone does that, from the quarterback to the offensive line. We have meetings about those types of things so when those situations come up, no one is really surprised, you’re just focused on what you need to do and you go out there and try to execute it.
Q: Do you guys feel pressure that you have to come through or else?
TB: This is a game of pressure – it’s a pretty pressurized environment, especially around here on a daily basis. There’s not much time where we get to take breaks and go. It’s just pedal to the metal from the moment we report to training camp until the end of the football season. Guys get tired, you get worn down but you have to fight through it. You have to be mentally tough enough to just grind through it. It feels like a regular season Wednesday today and we’ve been at it for awhile, but there’s no letting up. We just have to keep making improvements.
TB: I feel like I try to do whatever we need to do and whatever it takes and whatever guys need from me. The job is really never finished. You only have so many days, so many hours in a day and you try to commit those hours to the places where you think you need it the most. Sometimes it’s treatment, sometimes it’s more film, sometimes it’s staying extra to throw more. There are lots of things that come up so you’re just trying to be as prepared as you can every week. However that falls on a given week, it ends up being a little bit different. But we have to do whatever it takes. I think that’s the important thing, is whatever we need to do to be on the same page with our communication, so we can execute better, that’s what we’re focusing on.
Q: Have you noticed players staying longer to make up any gap?
TB: Yeah, we started earlier this year. We start pretty early in the morning. Guys always joke, ‘Start earlier and stay later.’ That’s what this year has been about. That’s what it takes. You have to put it in. There’s no way I can do it for you. You have to do whatever it takes to make the improvements you need to make. We started off offensively pretty slowly. Hopefully we’re building toward something that is better but ultimately that is decided on how we play every week. We get a test every week, whether you win or lose, you have a chance to come back the next week and do it better. We’re 5-1 and we’re really trying to get to 6-1.
Q: Yesterday Bill Belichick said you have a vision that when you come to the sideline, you can recount what took place and everything you say shows up on tape after. Have you always had that vision? Where does it come from?
TB: I don’t know. I don’t think about that too much. I don’t know, I don’t know what other guys go through. I just know what’s natural for me. I’m just trying to go back and make the right read, find the open guy. We try to put pressure on the defense in different ways and find where the weak spots are and make those plays. I’m not sure. It’s probably good that I don’t think about it.
Q: You’ve got a little mark there under your eye. Any idea where that came from?
TB: Yeah, I know. I got [it] in the game at some point. One of those dirty plays – no, it happens.
Q: Has Austin Collie adapted pretty quick?
TB: Yeah, he got a chance the other day. We were just joking walking off the field, he was like, ‘Man, that was, at practice we were getting after it today.’ I said, ‘Well, you could be sitting at home you know and just watching other guys and saying, ‘Man, the Patriots sure had a great win the other night.’ Or you could be the one making the plays.’ He did it. He had a chance to come in, his number was called. He came in and did a great job. He asks really good questions. He’s trying to really figure out what we do, which is different from some of the things that he’s done in the past, really trying to understand and find a role for himself. I’ve been really positive and encouraging with his work ethic. As a quarterback, you always want guys out there that you trust. Certainly me throwing him the ball in those critical situations shows you how comfortable I am with him.
Q: Bill Belichick said you had poise from the beginning and mentioned the Oakland playoff game. Were you as poised as he said? Have you always had that?
TB: I went to a big school so there were 110,000 people that came to our games in college. I learned pretty early. I came here and there are 65,000 people. It’s like, ‘Man, where is it? It’s half the stadium.’ You try to be in those pressurized situations and put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform well. Practices have always been important. You just try to do your best every single day. I’m usually not very much fun to be around at practice or in the game because I don’t joke around much, I’m pretty focused on our execution and what we need to do and what we need to do better. Hopefully guys understand that and they try to get better too. But we’re making progress. We’re 5-1. This week is as big as any game we’ve played all season. It’s our second one against the Jets. It would do great things for us in the division. We know how challenging it is to play against those guys. They’re very well coached. They have a great defense, they’ve played well offensively at times this year. It’s going to be a good challenge.
Q: How prepared are you to make changes to the offense if
TB: Our offense is kind of what it is. Who knows when he’s going to be out there. I feel like I’ve been saying it every week: If he’s out there, great. If he’s not, we have to go out and win anyway. I’m trying not to think about that too much.
Q: Willie Colon was quoted as saying he hates the Patriots. Does that stuff phase you at all?
TB: Not much phases me with Jets-Patriots at this point, or Yankees-Red Sox. I’ve been around to hear the banter that goes back and forth. It’s a healthy rivalry. It’s because both cities take a lot of pride in winning and we love our sports. It should be an exciting weekend.
Q: It’s my impression that guys aren’t thrown into the fire here. Was Austin Collie an exception to the rule because of extenuating circumstances?
TB: The role he was put into, he was pretty comfortable with at that point. It wasn’t like, ‘Let’s go in there and run 85 plays.’ He got put in for a specific role and did a great job with the things that he was asked to do. He’s been building slowly since the day he got here but he’s really been working hard at trying to understand how we do things. Certainly the other night, he was doing things we were all comfortable with him doing.