TB: I think anytime you go on the road, you expect it to be loud. We practice with that. I know this is a very – gets some attention around the league for how loud it is. I’m actually excited to get out there and play in a place I’ve never played. I think what makes it loud is that they’re very good. So, when they make plays, the crowd is into it and they get a lot of support. They’ve certainly been making a lot of them at home. They beat two very good teams at home, Dallas and Green Bay. It’s going to be a big challenge for us and I’m excited to go out there and see what we can do.
Q: Is this one of those things where you could have all the speakers in the world here trying to get ready to handle it, but you really won’t know until you’re in the stadium?
TB: You just try to prepare as best you can. I think that’s what you do and there are a lot of practices where we have music and we don’t use any communication. It’s as loud as it can possibly be because you’re not really communicating. They certainly get loud when they make plays. Like I said, I think what has more to do with the crowd noise is the fact that they can really play football. They have a really good defense, the best one in the league – statistically, top five in almost every category. They have players and the defensive line is excellent, a very good group of linebackers and certainly the secondary, three of those guys were in the Pro Bowl. They can play defense and they get it going and offensively if we make a bunch of mistakes, I’m sure it will be very loud for us, but hopefully if we get the ball in the end zone it will quiet it down. But I think that’s going to be our challenge.
Q: Does the no-huddle help to counteract that noise?
TB: I think there are times where we use a lot of words to communicate and there are times when we don’t. I think no matter what we do, we have to go out and execute. I think good offensive football is about execution. It’s not about how fast you play or how slow you play; it’s about how well you do your job and how well you execute the play that’s being called. When you go on the road against a good team, you can’t have mental errors, you can’t have opportunities that we have and then not take advantage of them. I think this team really doesn’t give you a lot of opportunities, so when you get them, you better take advantage of them.
Q: What makes their secondary one of the best in the league, if not the best in the league?
TB: They’re big, they’re physical, they cover very well for being big guys. Typically you find big corners that have a hard time covering guys. These guys, they cover everybody. They’re quick, they’re physical, they really limit the yards after the catch because they’re very good tacklers. I think they’re very aggressive. They obviously study very hard because they read a lot of route combinations. They’re very talented and I think our guys are pretty talented too, so it will be nice to see how we match up against them.
Q: Your defense has created a lot of turnovers in the last two games. How beneficial is that to you and what you’re trying to do on offense?
TB: Turnovers are always a big stat. They really correlate to winning and losing games. The more you turn it over, the less likely you are to win. I think we’ve done a great job of getting the ball off the other team. Like last week, it’s a totally different game if we don’t get that fumble there at the end or that strip-sack that Rob [Ninkovich] got. That strip that Sterling [Moore] got on Demaryius Thomas, they’re critical. I think offensively, we have to understand we’re going up against a team that’s created I think 14 fumbles. I don’t think they’ve recovered them all, but that’s a lot of fumbles in five games. I think that really speaks to their tenacity, them getting after the football. It seems like they’re all going where the football is at. They’re creating a lot of turnovers.
Q: How much do you relish the opportunity to go into a place that’s known for its noise and shut everybody up?
TB: That’s the fun part about being on the road. There’s nothing better than being on the road, like in Buffalo a few weeks ago, there were more of our fans there at the end than their fans. We’ve done that in Pittsburgh, we’ve done that in some very loud environments. This place will be really loud and Deion [Branch] said in opening warm-ups, just the way the stadium is built, it feels like there’s a lot of energy and a lot of sound, certainly on the field there is. It’s going to be fun. It will be fun for us players. I know we went out there in ’08. I didn’t go out there, but it was a dog fight that we had. They only won two games that year, but our game came right down to the end with them. They have a lot of very talented players and it’s a challenging place to play. They play well at home.
Q: You’re more concerned about the football obviously, but is there a novelty to a new stadium? There aren’t very many of them left that you haven’t played in.
TB: Yeah, I think I’ve always looked forward to doing that. There probably aren’t many that I haven’t played in at this point. But this will be fun. It’s always nice when you take 53 guys on the road and you say, ‘This is all we’ve got and this is all we need and this is what we have to do.’ And see 70,000 fans, if you can keep them quiet or turn them on their own team. I think that’s an exciting part for road teams, is to see if you can get them booing their own players.
Q: As effective as the offense has been the last couple of years, how much does it improve the offense to have
TB: Yeah, I think we’re doing a good job of exactly that: changing field position handing the ball off. It’s different when you hand it off and gain four yards or six yards, which is a good run, but it’s different when you hand off and you gain 25. You go, ‘That was easy, let’s do that again.’ You get backed up against your own goal line, you run it down, you’re on the seven yard line, first-and-10 going in and you run it in for a touchdown like we did, I think we were on the nine yard line. That’s good football and that’s hard to stop. If you can run it and force them to tackle you and force them to get their run fixed and worry about run support and bam, you play-action pass them, that’s what makes good football. We just have to continue to do it. It’s only been five weeks and we’re certainly doing great in the running game but it really means nothing if we don’t do it this week.
Q: Stevan Ridley said after the game that a well balanced attack helps keep the pressure off you. Do you feel the same way, that when they’re doing what they’re doing, it takes pressure off you?
TB: I don’t think there’s been pressure off me in a long time. I think that’s part of the position and probably all NFL quarterbacks feel that. But when your number is called, you have to be able to execute. Believe me, it’s nice to be able to hand it off and run the ball in. We’ve been balanced this year on offense. Like I said, we just have to continue to keep it going.
Q: How important is it to have a guy like
TB: There are important plays in our offense and I think that you have to make sure they’re covering everything. You see a lot of good teams do it, like the Saints, like Green Bay, the 49ers have done it. You get the ball to your guys in space and you see if they can make guys miss. We have some guys who do a great job running after the ball is in their hands. Really, it’s just a matter of getting the ball in their hands and seeing if they can make guys miss. You see a low-risk pass for a sometimes significant reward. Those are always good plays in the offense where you’re not trying to squeeze it into four defenders for a seven-yard gain. You throw it to a guy who is open and he makes a guy miss and gains 14. That’s very effective offense.
Q: Wes Welker has a joking, playful side. Do you see that a lot or are you on the receiving end of that?
TB: Yeah, all the time. I’m on the receiving end of a lot of his jokes. He has a great personality. He works so hard and he likes to keep the mood light. He’s a little bit of a jokester. Not only that, he’s a great football player. I think his jokes don’t go over very well if he’s not playing well. So, I’m glad he’s playing well.
Q: Is he more verbal zinger type of guy than a guy who pulls pranks?
TB: Yes. He’s relentless. He always has to have the last word and he usually gets it because he stays on it until you’re worn out. Those are usually the guys you don’t want to go after.
Q: Does the noise impact your ability to run the up-tempo offense?
TB: I think we have several different tempos that we try to play at. Sometimes you go no-huddle; sometimes we have to slow it down. It’s all really a matter of how the game is going and how we feel is the best way to attack the other team. Every week you go in and you have different moods of playing and plays and schemes and usually by halftime, you narrow those down and you have 30, 35 plays left in the game and those are the ones you have to hone in on. Whatever is working, that’s what we’re going to try to do.