BB: ** We're going to kind of have our normal Friday practice today and then head out to Denver this afternoon. I think everybody is excited, obviously, for this game. It's a great opportunity. It's what we worked all year for, to play in games like this. I'm sure we'll get everybody's best effort; I'm sure we'll get Denver's. Hopefully we can go out there and play our best football of the year on Sunday. That's our goal.
Q:How's the week of preparation been?
BB: Denver is always a heard team to get ready for. I think we're working at it. We'll see where we're at on Sunday.
Q:Is leaving today more standard operating procedure?
BB: Yeah, we've done that multiple times.
Q:Why do you feel like that puts the team in the best position?
BB: It's a combination of things.
Q:Is there anything you can do to prepare for the altitude?
BB: I think we've been doing it all year. That's what being a well-conditioned athlete is, ready to play in different conditions.
Q:The noise was turned up as usual like you do all year but is there any more attention on the noise level in Denver?
BB: We played in a lot of loud stadiums. I'm sure this will be loud. We deal with it every week on the road.
Q:Has there been any specific advice to the players to avoid the now-legal recreational marijuana in Denver?
BB: I think we know what the NFL policy is on that.
Q:Is there an NFL policy against what is legal there?
BB: I think that's something you ought to take up with the NFL.
Q:Well, you mentioned it.
BB: I think you have any more questions about it, you should talk to the league about it. They're the ones that have the policy.
Q:You have a number of young players and lost some veterans to injury. Who are you leaning on this week to help the guys?
BB: Every one of us. We all have a job to do. We're going to have to count on everybody to do their job. Nobody can do anybody else's. Look, there are no rookies anymore. We've already played 21 games.
Q:Given that it's a young team, what are you saying to this team specifically to motivate them?
BB: We're talking about what we need to do to win. It's as simple as that. Denver is a unique opponent. They have their own style of play. We have our matchups against them that are different from any other team we match up against. I'm just trying to do the best I can to get our team ready to go out there and compete against the Broncos; trying to tell them what we need to do to win.
Q:Have you been pointing out how many people are picking against you this week?
BB: We can't really worry about what anybody else says or thinks or does. We just control what we do. That's what we're focused on, that's what we're doing – our preparation.
Q:How did Ryan Mallett look on Wednesday and how valuable are those opportunities for him?
BB: I think opportunities are valuable for any player whenever they come. That's how you improve as a player is you play. Any opportunity a player gets, hopefully he'll take it advantage of it and make him better.
Q:How has he grown this season as Tom Brady's understudy?
BB: Ryan's done a good job for us all year, in terms of his preparation for our game, what we're doing and his ability to work with the defensive coaches and the offensive coaches to replicate what we're seeing from the other team's offense or in this case, [Peyton] Manning and the Broncos. He works hard at that, very diligent at trying to give the defense the best look he can, which is a big role in his position but also being ready to go out there and execute our offense and our plays as he had to do on Wednesday.
Q:What do you remember about Drew Bledsoe coming into the 2001 AFC Championship Game?
BB: He made a couple plays right there before the half. He hit [David] Patten on a flag route on a bunch, bunch situation. Ultimately those were the points that we scored offensively. Defensively we scored on a punt return, well scored on a punt return and blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown. So, the offensive points that we had were important in that game.
Q:Is there any concern about any sickness going around that the players will be at their best for Sunday's game?
BB: Again, we'll do all we can on that. I don't know. I can't see the germs. If I could, we'd stamp them out. We have to do the best we can to take preventive measures and in general take good care of our health, whether that's treatment, normal hygiene, sanitation in all of our public areas and so forth. We do that on a – it's a 24/7 job. It didn't just start last week or last month. It's every day in all the different parts of our building and our facility. Obviously we have a lot of guys that have some type of interaction with each other. That's important.
Q:What have you noticed from Ryan Allen's toughness from when he first got here to now?
BB: Obviously it's a big jump for Ryan punting in New England from Louisiana [Tech]. I think that he's had to make that adjustment, like all athletes do when they change locations like that. Mentally he's shown a lot of toughness and competitiveness to do what he needs to do, whether it be wind, rain, snow, cold, what have you. Look, it's a long season. This is a lot different than playing a college season. All of our younger players have dealt with the mental fatigue, the physical fatigue, some physical ailments from time to time. That's part of being a pro athlete is working through them and still being able to perform at a high level. I think he's met that challenge, as really all of our rookies have, or have had to meet. That's part of the game.
Q:Are there any lingering concerns about Tom Brady's health?
BB: Whatever his situation is, we'll list it on the injury report and that's what it is.
Q:Austin Collie has been on and off the roster a few times this year. How has he picked things up and how has he dealt with that?
BB: Good. Austin's a smart guy. He's an experienced player. He's been in, obviously, a very good passing system at Indianapolis. I think he's done a good job for us here. He's come through in some critical times for us with some key plays. That's what a team is. You have to depend on everybody and he's been dependable in situations where we've needed him. There have been a few of those this year.
Q:A midseason poll of players showed you as the second-least liked coach to play for. That surprised me given your success. Are you surprised that NFL players wouldn't want to play for you?
BB: I'm sure everybody has their own opinions out there so whatever they are, they are.
Q:It suggested they liked your success but didn't like your hardnosed approach. I would think success would be the number one goal.
BB: I don't know. You'll have to talk to the people who said that. I don't really know what they think.
Q:If you have to make a change at holder on the field goal operation, how significant is that? Is that something after a couple days of practice, you feel confident going into the game if you had to?
BB: Whatever we have to do, we'll do. Again, our players, from day one, know that – I mean, everyone is responsible for more than one position. We just can't have the luxury of a backup for every single spot. Especially when you look at the kicking game, you have basically 66 different starters on those six units there, in addition to offense and defense. That's part of everybody's job is to be responsible for more than one, or in some cases, multiple positions. Who knows who is going to be called on to do what when? Like Steve [Gostkowski] had to punt last week. Again, that's part of the NFL. You don't have that many guys on your roster and you need to be able to compete in the game and function with guys that can't go. I think we've prepared for every situation we can prepare for. That goes all the way back to training camp or in the spring when we have guys playing multiple positions where sometimes there's a perception that we're moving a guy. But we're not moving anybody necessarily, we're trying to build our depth for him and our team. You get into a situation at this time of year, sometimes those things pay off.
Q:You've mentioned Rick Gosselin's rankings on the special teams each year.
BB: He does a great job of that.
Q:You guys were first. What do you attribute a number one ranking from what you've seen from the start to finish of the season?
BB: Well, yeah, number one I think you have to give a lot of credit to Scott [O'Brien] and Joe [Judge], the coaches and Matt Slater, our special teams captain and all the guys that have contributed. Obviously you have to have good play from your specialists to have good play on special teams: your snapper, your holder, your kicker and your returner and then the core players that are in those units but also all the other guys that chip in on, that are maybe one or two or in some cases, three phase players. It's a team effort. I don't think that ranking represents anything that one person did. Obviously the two coaches and the specialists and the core players had a lot to do with it. I think it's more of a credit to the entire team and the effort that they put into it over the course of the year. Of course, it doesn't really mean anything now because we're in a one-game season and all that. None of that stuff in the regular season means anything – none of those stats, none of those records, anything. So, keeping it in perspective, it's a meaningless stat for this game.
Q:Has much been made of the Patriot Way and do you think that makes a difference with this team where they put winning over personal goals? Or do all the teams do that?
BB: That's a question I really can't answer because I don't know what the other 31 teams are doing. I just know what we're doing. We try to do what we feel is best for our football team. Every day of the year, 365 days a year, we try to make the best decisions we can for our football team. What everybody else is doing, each organization, I would say, has their own individual style. Each coach has his style. Each team is different. They're all in the same league but they're all different. We try to do what we feel like is best for us, whether that's what somebody else does or doesn't do in some portion of it, I don't really know. There isn't anything we can do about it. I don't really care. We have to do what's best for us. I can't worry about what everybody else is doing, other than trying to make our situation better. If we can improve it, then we're certainly open to trying to do that because that's what's important is improving, find better ways to do things, doing things better.