Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch addresses the media during his press conference on Tuesday, January 11, 2011.
Q: You've kind of seen both sides of the playoffs. You were Super Bowl MVP here and then you went to Seattle. What were those experiences like? And since Seattle didn't do as well in the playoffs as you would have liked, was that more motivating for you?
DB: Yeah, I think just overall going into the season you have goals - team goals. Personal goals are secondary. I think the biggest thing is you want to go out and achieve the team goals. I think the couple years that I was over there we did okay, but we didn't achieve what we wanted to achieve. I think coming back here and having the opportunity to do the same thing is a plus.
Q: Does that Super Bowl with the Patriots feel like yesterday or a thousand years ago?
DB: It doesn't seem that far away, honestly. I wouldn't say it's a thousand years. I think back in the day we took advantage of the opportunities at the time, and I think you still have that sense of urgency that it's right here in our palms. The biggest things right now are taking advantage of the Jets [and] going out and executing our plays.
Q: Is this as good as Tom Brady has ever played in terms of you playing with him?
DB: I hope so. I think those guys did a great job in '07. I think people talk about that year a lot. I wasn't here. But I hope this is the best he's played and I hope he continues to play that way.
Q: How would you describe Tom's study habits and preparation?
DB: Tom studies a lot. We get the bulk of it in the meeting rooms with just the players when we sit down to go over the things that he's been looking at. It carries over to the practice field as well. Tom is a dork when it comes to that, so I'm going to leave that alone, but Tom is a dork in that meeting room.
Q: What was your personal reaction when you heard Rex Ryan's comments yesterday?
DB: I actually just heard them today. They're just comments. Coach [Ryan] says and does what he does and we do what we do over here. Whatever he has to do to get his team motivated, I think that's what he's going to do.
Q: Do you think it's a certain form of flattery? If somebody has to keep talking about you, is it kind of like a compliment?
DB: Well, I don't think Tom's worried about him complimenting him. Really, we just focus on what goes on over here. Like I said, I think he does what he has to do to get his team motivated and get going.
Q: Do you ever have to just laugh when you take a look at what you have here in Bill Belichick versus Rex Ryan and some of the comments he makes and just how different the two are?
DB: Yeah, you know they're different. I actually just heard what Coach Belichick said, too, this morning. All of it's funny. I think the biggest thing is we all both to play a game at 4:15 [Sunday]. I think the thing is that Coach Belichick isn't playing Coach Ryan; The New England Patriots are playing the New York Jets Sunday at 4:15. I think all the stuff that will be said up to that point won't make a difference.
Q: Do you ever take a moment to step back and think, 'Wow, I can't believe I'm back here'?
DB: I'm always thankful. I always think about the moment. I always think about what could have been. You always have those moments. I think the biggest thing is you can't dwell on it and you can't focus on it. The only thing you can do is take advantage of right now.
Q: Did you watch any of the past Patriots playoff games with interest when you weren't on the team?
DB: Yeah, I always watch the guys. I think being a part of this team in the past and winning Super Bowls, you form this certain bond. It's not easy. The longer you play during the season, you're with the team more than you are with your own family. I just think keeping in contact with those guys, I did the entire four years that I was out in Seattle. So yeah, I always paid attention to the guys and seeing what they were doing. I was excited for them.
Q: Did you watch the 2007 Super Bowl?
DB: Yeah. When they played the Giants? Yeah. Great game. Great game. It didn't turn out the way they wanted, but great game.
Q: When you play a guy like Darrelle Revis, do you think that one of your advantages you have is that you guys are all interchangeable as receivers so he can't just guard one of you?
DB: There're a lot of things we think we go into the game and do, as far as our game plan. I can't tell you that, but we'll see Sunday, and I think there are going to be a lot of things that they try to do and there are going to be some things that we're doing.
Q: Because some of the guys, including rookies, have never been in the playoffs before, can you replicate the intensity level that comes with the postseason in practice?
DB: Not really. I think the biggest thing is just for us -the veteran guys who have been part of games like this - our level of play must step up this week in practice. It starts in practice. As far as are we going to get the same thing [in] the game on Sunday [as in practice] today and tomorrow, no. The guys are going to practice hard. Trust me, that's going to happen, but it's not the same. It's not the same.
Q: What value do you place on experience?
DB: A lot. A lot. I think it starts with our coach - Coach Belichick - and then it trickles down to the players. A lot of it is a credit to your experience and the most of it is how you are playing going into the postseason. I think you take a little bit from that as well. I think we were hitting on all cylinders at the right time going into the postseason.
Q: It's supposed to snow a lot tomorrow. Do you think you're going to get cut any slack for showing up late to practice?
DB: No ma'am. No ma'am. We'll be here on time and I think all the guys may need to leave their homes a little early this year. I heard about the thing that happened in the past, so we don't need that to show up. This is not the time for that.
Q: Were you surprised to see the way Darrelle Revis shut down Reggie Wayne?
DB: I think when you're watching the film, you can look at certain things and say, 'This and that happened' or, 'He shut this guy down or that guy.' I don't know. I don't know what their game plan was going into the game. The only thing I can say is that Jets did a better job than the Colts did. They came out victorious. I can't sit here and say, 'Yeah, he shut him down.' There were some times that Reggie was open and he didn't get the ball and there were other times that he was covered. It's 50/50. It's just hard to sit back and say, 'He did this. He did that.' Both of them are great players.
Q: At the beginning of the year when you were in Seattle if someone had told you that you'd be getting ready for the divisional playoffs in New England against the Jets, what would you have said?
DB: That would have been crazy. That would have been kind of crazy. Going into the year at Seattle, my focus was on going out and trying to help that team achieve that goal. The opportunity that I had to come back here was just a blessing. To hear something like that would have been crazy.
Q: You weren't here last year, but do you get a sense that there is some motivation from the Baltimore loss last postseason?
DB: You could say that. I think the biggest thing is we try not to focus on the stuff that happened in the past. That's why you don't hear a lot of guys talking about the Super Bowl. It's crazy. I've been other places. There were times in Seattle where guys talked about the Super Bowl so much in '06, but you lost. That's the big difference. I think here, we've won in the past, but guys don't harp on it. They don't talk about it. That doesn't matter anymore; the game is over.
Q: So nobody wears their rings?
DB: No. I don't wear mine. I haven't seen any of the guys wearing their rings. So, to answer [the previous question]: I don't think so. The sense of urgency kicks in as far as we don't want to have that feeling that guys had last year, but as far as 'We've got to do this and do that,' no; It's a totally different game.
Q: How has Tom's game changed from what you've seen from him playing in 2007? What's making him work so well this year?
DB: I can only really answer to what I've experienced with him. There are a lot of different things. The offense was totally different in '07 to now from back in '02, '03, '04. I think overall, each and every year it's going to be a different year. It's going to be a different game. Guys are going to come in and do a lot of different things are far as what they need to improve on and get better on. I think that's something Tom would have to answer. I just think overall, from '02 to now, Tom's deep ball is looking a whole lot better. That's one thing that I can say. That's my opinion. Just overall, being the quarterback that he is, he's always been the same guy that he was in '02, except he had to establish his leadership role - it has to be a little more dominant now versus when I came in in '02. We had so many veteran guys on the team that it's a little different now.
(On the improvement of Brady's deep ball)
DB: I think the thing is that Tom worked on it a lot over the course of the years. When you have a guy like Randy [Moss], you really have to push the ball downfield a whole lot more if you don't want to under throw him every play. I think with that being said, that's something that helped him get better.
Q: Were you surprised at how much he had grown as a leader?
DB: Not really. I think the biggest thing is that he didn't have to force his will on guys back then. When you've got guys like Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Washington ['03], Mike Vrabel...you can go on down the list. We can name about 20 guys that we had when I was here in '02 versus now. You look at now and there are only eight guys [left] on the team, I think. It's a big difference. It's a big difference.
Q: Was the Pittsburgh game the biggest example of him having to force his will this year?
DB: No, I wouldn't say that. I think all that stuff happened in mini camp and training camp. I wasn't around, but when I got here you could see the difference. I could tell once I arrived.
Q: Does Coach Belichick show you more film from the Jets loss than the 45-3 victory to motivate you?
DB: No. I think we focus on the things...Like I said earlier after the game, the score was 45-3, but we had a lot of mistakes in the game and I think those are the things we focus on more. He drills us on it. You wouldn't think we won the game 45-3, which is good. That's a good thing. Once he shows it, guys realize where they made the mistakes and we've got to correct those mistakes.
Q: Do you remember where you were when you learned you were being traded back to here and what your immediate reaction was?
DB: Where was I? I really don't care to remember. I'm just glad it happened. I think I was at home when my agent finally called me and told me it was done. And I just told my wife and she was kind of shocked and then the next thing you know, the tears come out. I was like, 'Are you happy or what?' And she's like, 'We have to up and move again? We've been here four years.' I'm like, 'Baby, we've got to go. It's time to go. I enjoyed my four years here, but it's time to go. I think we need to move on.' And she kind of straightened up, but I think she took it the hardest. I love her to death, but she took it the hardest. [She said,] 'We have to move the kids and stuff?' I'm like, 'They'll be ok. Trust me, they'll be alright.'