TB: Well last week we didn’t get to work on many fundamentals or techniques in practice, so you go out and you execute in the first week like we did against Buffalo, but it was a quick turnaround playing on Thursday night. There are probably things we probably wish we would’ve practiced but didn’t really have an opportunity to. Coach talks about improving and these weeks really being about improvement, trying to be a better football team, so we’re trying to do that and we got off to a good start today.
Q: How much did that extended period actually help you guys having the 10 days off and working on getting better from those first two games?
TB: Well everyone got probably a little extra rest, which is always important during the football season. But we got back to work on Monday, we had a good practice and worked against each other quite a bit and today really got into Tampa and tried to understand what they do well. We had a chance to practice against them, wasn’t long ago, a month ago, which was good experience. So hopefully that will pay off in the game also. But it’s a very good football team, and they’re two plays away from being 2-0. A very good defense; I have a lot of respect for a lot of those guys, some of the best guys we’ll play against in the league – Darrelle Revis and Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, who is one of my favorite players.
Q: Why is [Goldson] one of your favorite players?
TB: Why? Because if I were a safety I’d try to play like him. He’s a great a player. I played against him last year, always kind of watched him as a 49er and he got his opportunity there after a few years in San Francisco and took advantage of his opportunity. He’s a big part of the reason why that defense was so good last year and then now he’s playing for Tampa, so he’s already made a big impact. He’s a very good player, and practicing against him you see why.
Q: Did you hear the news today? [Goldson] had initially been suspended but they overturned that. Were you aware of that coming in?
TB: Yeah, Coach let us know. They obviously didn’t ask me, because I didn’t get to weigh in.
Q: What can you take from the joint practices with Tampa? I know schematically things were really vanilla then, but what can you take from those joint practices heading into the game?
TB: Well they were good practices early in the year for us because of the training camp and getting through those and really seeing how you match up against another team was important. What they’ll do this week, how much will be carried over, I don’t know, we’ll just have to wait and see. But we have a lot of stuff on film, and you see a lot of matchups and things like that; how we get open versus their guys most specifically, that’s probably what we worked on most during those particular days. But the actual game plan, we have our own game plan. That wasn’t really a game plan week, that was just more of, ‘Let’s just throw the Patriot offense against the Tampa defense.’ And they’ll game plan against us too based on what they think they need to attack after the first couple weeks, so it’ll be a good game. It’ll be a fun game. I think a lot of this defense, so we’ve got to play a lot better than we played the first two weeks. We’ve got to go out there, and like I said we got off to a good start in practice today and hopefully we can carry this over into the game.
Q: A lot of people saw what happened in Week 2 and played it over and over again, some of the things happening on the sidelines.
TB: What happened?
Q: How important was it for you to get practice, to be back with those guys and just kind of be on the same page with them and kind of talk through what you want and take it towards the practice field and use this for the next week?
TB: I mean there’s constant communication, so I think there’s a lot of trust that’s built up in the quarterback-receiver group. I said after the game, the burden’s on all of us. It’s not the receiver position, it’s the quarterback position most importantly, that’s what I need to focus on. The better I am out there, the better we’re going to be as an offense, so I’ve got to focus on doing my job as best I can.
Q: The offensive line also wasn’t together in preseason a whole lot. Is it all kind of meshing together now, the whole group?
TB: Certainly. And I think that takes time together, even [though] those guys have played together quite a bit. It’s a new year, and when you take off football for seven months and the pads are off and you try to kind of implement new things that you’ve talked about over the course of the offseason – new strategies, new plays – you have to fit those things and see how they fit against another team. So I think from our standpoint, we’re still working hard [for] everyone to get on the same page, and offensive line, there’s no group that works as one as those five guys on the offensive line. The more those guys can work together, the better they’re going to be, and that’s all anticipation, that’s a lot of trust and trusting that the guy next to you is going to be able to do his job. That’s one of the real strengths of our team, one of the real strengths of our offense. We’ve got a really good group up there, so hopefully we can start doing some things at quarterback, running back, tight end, receiver to help those guys out.
Q: I know it’s only been two games, but are they using Darrelle Revis the same way? Does it look like the same shutdown corner he was in New York?
TB: Yeah, I don’t think there have been many balls caught on him in these two weeks. He didn’t play the whole game against the Jets, he played pretty much the whole game against the Saints, and he looks like the same guy to me. There’s nothing negative about his playing style, there’s nothing negative about his skill set. He can really do it all. He’s fast, he’s quick, matches up against small guys, matches up against big guys. He’s really long, he’s really strong, he’s patient. Some guys you really guess all the time and sometimes you guess wrong, he never guesses wrong. He’s smart, he sees the whole field. I’ve never played against anyone who is as good as him. He’s as good as there is that I’ve ever played against, so you just have to be careful when you throw his way because you know he’s going to be close. There’s no one that’s going to be wide open, you’ve just got to make sure you put the ball in a position where only the receiver can catch it.
Q: There’s no testing his knee? You don’t look at it like that at all?
TB: No, it looks pretty good to me. He looks pretty good out there, and it looks like he’s doing all the stuff that he always used to do when we played against the Jets.
Q: Who would be on your short list of guys in that same conversation with Revis? You went against Ty Law on a daily basis for a period of time, you’ve seen Charles Woodson over the years and Champ Bailey… Who’s on your short list?
TB: Yeah, I mean Ty was a great player. We played a lot of zone with Ty, and Ty always had a great feel. I remember him intercepting me a lot of times in practice, just ‘How did he see that or get to that ball?’ He had such great field vision, that’s what it is about those guys in the secondary. There are certain corners that are really man-to-man corners, and like the Jets over the last few years with Revis and [Antonio] Cromartie, they just put those guys on one particular guy and they say, ‘Take the ball away,’ and that’s what they do a good job of. Darrelle has been a great man-to-man corner; they’re probably playing a little bit more zone now than what he used to play. I mean there are some great corners I’ve been able to play against: Champ Bailey, Patrick Surtain, and that goes back a few years, but yeah Charles Woodson, I mean I love the way he plays the game still. But I mean Darrelle is certainly at the top.
Q: You mentioned the word trust. What does it take for a receiver to earn your trust?
TB: Well, it goes both ways. It’s them trusting me that I’m going to put the ball in position for them to catch it and not get hit so that they can do things full speed and not worry about if I’m throwing them into something. It’s just a lot of work. It’s just a lot of repetition, it’s a lot of communication. The practice field and all these things we do in practice through walkthroughs, through meetings and so forth, hopefully they pay off. But you’ve just got to put the work in, and you’ve got to put the time in, and we’ve been doing certainly a lot of that. I can’t remember a year where we spent as much time together as we’ve spent since the spring, and it’s going to pay off at some point. Like I said after the game, hopefully the burden of our offense doesn’t fall on one position, and it can’t fall on just the receiver position or just the tight end position or just the quarterback position. It’s the whole offense, and there’s 11 players that have to contribute, and whoever’s out there has to be able to do their job. Each player we’re trying to attack something differently, and when your number is called you have to be prepared, you have to be able to make the plays. That’s why you’re on the team, to help us win games, and the more guys that we have that are capable of doing that, the better offense we’re going to be.
Q: What have you noticed in terms of
TB: I mean it’s great to have him out there. It’s fun to see him out there running around being a part of our offense, so whenever he’s back healthy enough to play, and that decision is not up to me, who knows when it’s going to be, hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.
Q: With a guy a like that, obviously you just can’t turn the switch and just be back to where you were after a long time practicing together, but how much has what you’ve built in the past helped you sort of get back to at least partly there?
TB: Yeah, that helps. I mean you certainly draw on some experiences, and he and I have thrown a ton of balls together. It’s just probably more for him trying to understand, get his football legs back. There’s nothing you can do to duplicate an NFL football season. You can’t. For the training for it, it’s just, you have an offseason conditioning program and you train hard, but there’s nothing like training camp. There’s nothing like a real NFL game. That’s how you know how prepared you are, how prepared your body is. I think that’s what you try to simulate in practice, but ultimately what comes up in the game – it’s a faster speed, you’re on the clock on every single play, decisions are really quick and the stakes are at the highest, so you have to try to condition your body and your mind for that. Nobody can just show up and do that, that’s why we train really hard, that’s why we practice in the spring. We have 25 practices through training camp so we can be as prepared as possible. I’ve always said, ‘You never know what type of team you’re going to be for another few months,’ so we’ve still got a long way to go. Everyone’s got to take that time to get themselves playing their very, very best.
Q: You’ve been a strong leader on this team for a while now. Were you any different this week in practice, any more vocal, any more assertive? Anything different about this week having the extra time as well?
TB: I try to be pretty consistent. I think at this point, just trying to be my normal self, which can be not always the most patient as I’ve said in the past, but I think there’s a real urgency to what we do here. This is not tiddlywinks, this is real football, and this is a real job, and we’re held accountable every single day for what we do every single day, so I think just trying to convey that message to everybody so that everybody knows that. This is about winning football games, and we’re doing our best to do it, and that’s why we work hard. That’s why you make the commitments you make to the players that you play with so that we can go out and try to win and win on a consistent basis.
Q: In terms of preparation, is it better for you not to have an expectation about Rob Gronkowski playing or not playing?
TB: I just assume he’s not playing until they tell me that he’s going to play. We’ve dealt with him injured for a lot of last season too, so you just don’t want to… I think we know how to play without him. It’ll be a nice little influx of really rare talent when he gets back. I love having him on the field with me, I love working with him. He’s been great to work with since the day he got here, so whenever he’s back on the game field it’ll be exciting for all of us.