BB:** Happy Holidays to everyone. We have our winter coats on, so we're ready to go outside.
Q: This is the last time we will talk to you before the regular season ends. It seems like the season has flown by.
BB: It has, it does. It seems like we were just in Tennessee, doesn't it? It's been quick, it has. It usually goes by a little faster when you win. Those 4-12 years really drag.
Q: You were outside in the rain yesterday, was that in advance of the weather this weekend?
BB: Yeah, whatever it is, it is. Whatever weather we get today, we get. Whatever we get Sunday, we get. We're not trying to forecast it. We'll just practice in whatever comes. I'm sure sooner or later we'll get something similar.
Q: You seemed to indicate on Wednesday that the possibility of Rob Gronkowski playing was a medical decision. Is that still the case or has it shifted to your decision?
BB: Yeah, that's still the case.
Q: How does Jermaine Cunningham look in his first week back?
BB: OK. It's only been one practice really, just a walkthrough on Wednesday. Like we talked about, staying in shape and doing a bunch of sit-ups is one thing, being out there with 21 other guys playing football is another thing. There's no way to simulate that. You just can't replicate it, especially when you're by yourself. I'm sure it will take a little bit of time.
Q: It is different when you're dealing with an injury as opposed to somebody you cannot see for a month. Is it easier to deal with someone coming off an injury because you have seen him or is it just not fair to compare?
BB: They're both hard. We dealt with it back when we had the training camp holdouts; we had those, I remember back in the '80s with the Giants. Guys that held out all training camp and then came in. They were healthy, they just hadn't been playing football. I'm not saying they can't do well, I'm not saying they can't perform or anything, but it's not the same. The injuries are the same thing. A guy can keep up in the meetings and all that, but it's still not quite the same as being able to go out there and participate. It's better than not being in those meetings or not hearing what's going on, but it's not the same as actually doing it. There's still a gap there.
Q: The offensive line has had a rough few weeks. Are you concerned about the number of hits that Tom Brady is taking? If so, what are you doing to try to fix it?
BB: We always, we try to do that every week. Protect the quarterback, throw the ball, make holes for the running backs, run the ball. It's nothing any different. That's what we try to do every week.
Q: You have been in this situation a lot, where Sunday is not your last game. Is there a fine line with how much each player plays in the game and looking beyond?
BB: Not in this particular case because there's nothing we can do to help ourselves unless we beat Miami. There's nothing we can do to help our situation unless we win. We have to win for anything positive to happen. There is no guarantee that it will but that's the first prerequisite so we're operating under that premise. We have to go out there and win. If we want things to be better, we have to help ourselves. We have to do that first. That's really what it's all about.
Q: We have seen a lot of Michael Hoomanawanui a lot recently. Can you talk about what he has done since his arrival?
BB: Of course, he had a little bit of a background with Josh [McDaniels] last year so he had some familiarity with the offense. We had some familiarity with him, not me personally but Josh. He's a smart guy, can catch the ball, he has good size, he's a tough guy, pretty smart. He's played on punt team, played on kickoff return team, he's given us some snaps on special teams so he's got some versatility. He's intelligent, he's a big, strong guy that has some athleticism and can catch the ball. There are a number of different things he can do. He's lined up in the backfield, lined up on the end of the line, played on special teams. He's been a guy that's filled some different roles for us from time to time depending on what the needs are. I think he's gained confidence. Of course, coming back from his injury, I think that's something that progressively in time should continue to get better. At the same time, he's gained confidence in our coaches, our players, our system because he's been productive. I think he's been a good addition to the team. He's helped us in a lot of different ways.
Q: In terms of game plan, is there a consideration to not wanting to put certain things on tape because you want to use them in the future?
BB: I think that definitely would be a consideration if the game didn't mean anything standings-wise. Kind of like a preseason game – you're out there playing, but the game really doesn't count in the standings. It counts in your development as a team. But I think when you're in a situation like we are, where we need to win to improve, then it's worth winning to improve.
Q: Is the flip side of that also true, that if you put something on film the other team has to take time preparing for it?
BB: Sure. Yeah, everything you put on film, I'm sure another team, any team that's good on their preparation will talk about. If you know they have it, you want to be prepared for it, sure. But again, I think this is more about our performance, our execution level more than it is trying to outsmart somebody else that's a good team that we're going to have to eventually play here, whoever it is. There are obviously all good teams left, the teams that are in the playoffs. Whichever one we play will be good, or they wouldn't be here. They will have seen plenty of us. I don't think it will come down to who out-tricks who, it will be who plays well. That's at the top of the list for us – executing and performing well, being alert to the things that we need to do and doing them at a high level. In this case, stopping the key playmakers and schemes that Miami has. If we can do what we need to do, I think that will be a good start no matter who we play. That's always a big emphasis for us.
Q: Are you a believer in generating positive momentum heading into the playoffs? Tom Brady said that he doesn't believe anything carries over week to week. Is each week its own week?
BB: Absolutely, that's what I totally believe – each week is its own week.
Q: Wes Welker has been particularly dominant against the Dolphins. Is there anything you have seen in the Dolphins defense that allows him to succeed against them?
BB: No, they have a new defensive coordinator this year than they had last year so not really. I don't want to say it's coincidence. I know Wes is a good player and he plays well against a lot of teams. I don't have any reason why. Miami is a good defense, they do a good job against everything. They're good against the run, they rush the passer, they cover well, they're good in the red area, good on third down, good on the goal line. Hopefully we can move the ball and score some points on them this time, but I'm sure it will be challenging.
Q: At this point of the year, are you monitoring how games are being called, legal and illegal?
BB: Certainly we monitor anything that is new, that's a change, that's different. The league periodically informs of us of things that are, I don't want to say they're rule changes, but sometimes they'll send us videos or memos saying, 'We've been seeing a lot of this lately and here's how we're going to call it. We're going to treat it this way or treat it that way,' whatever it is. Any situation like that, you certainly want to stay on top of. As far as the rest of it goes, the rules are the rules. We've all seen these games every week. Some plays get called differently than others. You have 17 different crews or whatever it is out there officiating the games. Not all of them see it the same way or call it the same way. Some crews call a lot more penalties than other crews. But it's always going to be that way. I don't think that's anything revolutionary there, it just is what it is. Look, we know what the rules are, we try to play within the rules, we coach the rules, we don't intentionally coach any penalties or situations that are going to be flagged, we don't want that. So we try to do it the right way. Does it always happen? No, but that's what we're trying to do. If something has changed then we try to modify it so that we're within the boundaries of that play or that technique, whatever it is.
Q: How beneficial would a bye be from an injury standpoint to get guys healthier?
BB: I don't know. It depends on what the injuries are. We'll have to see how it goes. But it's one less game that you have to play in this league. At this time of year, you know you're playing a good team. So whoever you play, they're going to be good. Having to play one less game, I think there's some advantage to that.