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Drew Bledsoe Pre-Game Press Conf. 10/30/2002

Bledsoe on Tom Brady: Tom’s an extremely hard worker. He busts his butt and I would expect him to rebound quickly.



            **Q: A question I had off the top was that a lot has been made of [Tom] Brady learning a lot from you last year. He talks about some of the nuances that he learned through you. I wondered, did you learn anything through him?**  

DB: Tom's an extremely hard worker. He busts his butt and I would expect him to rebound quickly. As far as just watching him play, he did a lot of things right last year. He did a great job with the team. He took what people gave him and really did a good job of managing the game.

Q: Has your demeanor in terms of your interaction with your teammates … A lot has been made about how you're very interactive, you have your own meetings and your own perspective about the game plan with your receivers. Is that something that you wanted to do, or was that something that you and Gregg [Williams] talked about when you first met?

DB: People have made a lot out of that deal, but at the same time, it's not all that different from what I did when I was in New England. I never was and still am not a real rah-rah guy, but I have made an effort here to be a little more vocal, to take a little more of a vocal role on the field. But, as far as the meetings and that kind of stuff that we've done, that's something that I've done for a long time. It was something that we did in New England for a number of years.

Q: What made you decide that you wanted to be more vocal? Was it just that at this time in your career you felt it was necessary?

DB: You know, this team, coming off a tough year last year, they were really looking for some vocal leadership. I felt like I could supply that. Obviously I've got a lot of experience and I've been through a lot of good things and a lot of bad things in my career, and I really felt like it was a good time and a good place for me to step up and share a little bit more of my experience with the guys here in Buffalo.

Q: Drew, who has the advantage on Sunday, you going against Ty [Law] and Lawyer [Milloy] and Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, those people. Obviously for years in practice they've gone against you. Is there any advantage either way?

DB: We'll find out after the game. There are advantages both ways. They know me, I know them, and it'll make it fun. It will make it a pretty level playing field from the standpoint of knowing each other, but ultimately, who wins will determine who had the greater advantage. I feel like I know those guys pretty well, but in their defensive scheme, they change things up so much from week to week that it makes it really hard to take advantage or try to exploit things that you've seen from previous weeks, because it just changes so much.

Q: Drew, can you talk a little bit about what it means to you, first of all, to be playing again and then to be playing in this particular game.

DB: Well, first of all, when you go through a career the way that I had until last year when you're on the field all the time, and I have been fortunate and haven't been hurt much in my career. And really, no matter how hard you try, you're going to start to take that for granted a little bit. No matter how hard you try to avoid that and how much lip service you pay it, at some point you do start to take it for granted a little bit and I think I was guilty of that to a certain extent. But having this change, having to go through what I went through last year and then having a chance to get back on the field has really renewed my passion for the game. I'm having a ball playing, I'm enjoying the competition on the field I think as much as I ever have and I'm playing with a bunch of great guys that I have a lot of confidence in and that makes it easier to do that.

Q: Drew, I remember how you commented after the first Tuna Bowl how there were so many of you on the Patriots side that were trying to prove so hard to your old coach. Did you learn from that experience and will that experience help you in another situation where things are on the line against an old coach?

DB: Yeah. I definitely learned a lot from that situation. I think that there were a lot of us in that game when Bill [Parcells] cam back that got a little too keyed up and a little too excited for the game maybe. And I did, I learned a lot from that situation and I guess a lot of guys on our team did. For me, it's even more important for me to be able to manage my emotions going into a game like this, because I'm not a linebacker, I don't get to go out there and run into people and take out my aggression that way, so I'll do everything I can, everything in my power to try and be calm and cool going into this one. I look forward to just having fun with it.

Q: Clearly this is an emotional game for you.

DB: Yeah, it is. To say that this is just another game, I'd be lying and you guys would know I was lying. So, yeah, it's a special game for me. I'm playing against a bunch of guys that I went to war with for a long time and a lot of guys that I have tremendous respect for. I've used the analogy for a while now that it's like playing against your brother. You go out and play against somebody that you respect and somebody that you're friends with and you want to win that one bad because you're going to have to hear about it for the rest of the year if you don't win it.

Q: What problem does a [Bill] Belichick / [Romeo] Crennel defense pose and having worked with Belichick for three years, two years, how much better prepared are you to go against this defense than maybe you were earlier in your career?

DB: You know, they make things so hard on you from an offensive standpoint because they change up so much from week to week. As an offensive player, you'd like to be able to go into a game and say, 'Well, here's what they're going to do, here's what we're going to attack, this is our answer to this, this is our answer to this.' They don't allow you to do that. They change it up week to week and they make things very difficult. The thing that allows them to do that is that they've got smart, veteran players that allow them to play that style of defense where they change up dramatically from week to week. If they didn't have the players that they put on the field, they wouldn't be able to play the style that they play because it would be too challenging for guys. But, they've got smart players and you go look at them on film and one week they do one thing and the next week they change their personality entirely. Then, once they create a little bit of confusion for your offense, then they bring a very physical style of football that just compounds the problems that they present.

Q: Drew, are you happy that the first game is up there instead of down here or does it matter?

DB: It's always an advantage to play at home, no question. When the schedule came out, yeah, I was happy to be playing here at home for the first time. I know it will be a crazy scene when I get to come there, too, regardless of whether it's the first game or the second one. But yeah, I'm glad we're at home.

Q: Drew, have your teammates said anything to you over the past few days about them feeding off of how important this game is for you?

DB: Yeah, guys sense that this is important and there are a lot of guys on this team that have come here from other places and they understand directly what that means. If London Fletcher had the chance to play against the Rams this year, I know that would be a special game for him. Anybody that's moved around from team to team understands that it's special when you get a chance to play against your old teammates.

Q: Drew, my understanding is that you're pretty well loved up there right now. Did you ever feel the same outpouring of affection here during your years here that you now have in Buffalo?

DB: Oh, yeah. Sure. When I first came to New England, there was a lot of excitement coming off of being drafted high and all of those things. Then we made our run in '96 and people were going crazy for us. That was an exciting time. And then last year. To be honest with you, last year from the standpoint of the appreciation that I felt last year was maybe as gratifying as any. To be hurt seriously for the first time and to receive the outpouring of support that I felt when I was hurt was really amazing. Then to go through the situation where I was part of the team that won the championship and to feel the support that we felt as an entire team from that region was really overwhelming.

Q: Drew, had you not been traded in April, when were you planning to come in, whether it be for mini camps or workouts? Were you going to…

DB: You know, I didn't really get to that point to be honest with you. I had a pretty strong feeling that something was going to happen and that I was going to be someplace else, just simply because it was going to be a difficult situation for everybody had I come back. I had a pretty strong inclination that something was going to happen, so I didn't really get to that point.

Q: Were you at all sending a signal that you wanted something to happen by not coming in?

DB: No. I just kind of figured that was going to be the case and so I just waited to see what it was going to be.

Q: Drew, did you enjoy the Super Bowl championship as much as your teammates, or was it a little tough because you didn't get to contribute the way you would have liked?

DB: I'm proud of the fact that I was a part of that team. I've worn the ring, I wear the ring and I'm proud of that. But, yeah, it was different. It was a little different for me. I wasn't on the field and that makes it a little hard to feel like you're contributing as much as you would like to have contributed. But at the same time, I enjoyed the victory and like I said, I'm very proud that I was a part of that team that won that championship. That was an amazing run that the team put together and to be a part of it was really a special experience.

Q: Drew, if you guys get the victory this weekend, do you have any sense of how far this team can go?

DB: Man, I don't know. We're still getting to know each other. We've made a lot of progress in a fairly short amount of time and I feel like we're still improving week to week. I think we're getting better. As far as how far we can go and what we can do, I think that we're at a point right now where we're confident that we can compete with anybody in the league. But, as far as exactly what we can do and what we can accomplish this year, I really don't have a feel for it yet. Right now, we're excited about what we've accomplished, but we know that we're not there yet. As far as what we can do, I think that we can compete with anybody. But, can we win it all? Can we be a playoff contender? I just don't know yet. I won't know until this whole thing shapes out.

Q: Knowing the players here with the Patriots like you do, are you surprised at what's happened after the first three games?

DB: Yeah, I'll tell you what, the first few games that the Patriots played, man, it looked like they were unstoppable. But, unfortunately, they face just a ridiculously tough schedule. They've played a stretch here where they're playing the best teams in the league back-to-back-to-back four weeks in a row, and when you have that kind of a stretch, it's very hard to keep winning, especially when you're the defending champion and everybody marks that game on their calendar as a big game. Everybody's shooting to try and knock off the champs and so you combine that with the fact that they're playing the top teams in the league and it makes it a tough stretch. They're disappointed, but at the same time, I think they should realize that the games they've lost have been against the very, very cream of the crop in the league.

Q: You know better than anyone that there will always be critics no matter what you do. Do you feel that the way you've started this season, you've basically silenced anyone who thinks you're not one of the top tier quarterbacks in the league?

DB: I've never really concerned myself with that too much. The guys that have been around me for a long time up there know that's never been a motivator for me. I don't worry about that stuff. I just play and try to play as well as I can and hopefully when all is said and done and I'm done with my career, hopefully I'll be recognized.

Q: Do you feel like Tom's going through a lot of the things that you went through, particularly in the leadership role that a quarterback has?

DB: Yeah, when you play quarterback in this league for any stretch of time, you're going to go through tough times. What ultimately determines how well you're going to do is how you deal with the adversity that comes your way. I know Tom, he's a strong guy, he's mentally tough. He's got a good family surrounding him to help him through some of the stuff. I have complete confidence in him as I'm sure everybody in that organization does that Tom is going to continue on and be a great player.

Q: Drew, you mentioned while you were here that Phil Simms once told you that maybe around the 10th, 11th, 12th season in the league, a light starts to go on and things really click. Did being on the sidelines last year help that process in seeing the game from a different vantage point?

DB: It may have helped some. I don't think that anybody likes to admit that staying on the sidelines is a good thing in any way, shape or form. But being over there and being able to look at things without being the guys that's in the middle of it, yeah, it may have helped in certain ways. When you stand on the sidelines and watch rather than being out there, you can be a little more objective. When I'm playing, I'm always focused on critiquing how I'm doing and focusing on my play. Standing on the sidelines and watching somebody else play, I think I was able to see the big picture a little bit more rather than focusing strictly on what I was doing.

Q: You have two of the top receivers in the league. What is the difference between them?

DB: Eric [Moulds] is by far the strongest receiver and the most explosive receiver I've ever played with. When he catches the ball, he attacks. He's not looking to make somebody miss. He's getting upfield and he's trying to punish somebody when he has the ball. He's got great speed, good quickness, runs good routes and all of those things. Peerless [Price] plays a little bit more of a finesse style, is an outstanding route runner, has tremendous hands. The thing that really allows both of those guys to be truly special is the fact that they're just flat out fast. They can just blow the top off the coverage at any point in the game.

Q: Drew, with all of the success that you guys have had this year, do you attribute it a lot to your receivers and your offensive line?

DB: We've got a young offensive line and I've compared them a number of times to the offensive line that the Patriots had last year in that we had some injuries during training camp, they weren't able to play together as a unit all the way through camp like we would like to have seen them. But, now that they've been able to be together for a number of games, they're really starting to come on and they're really starting to play well as a unit. They've been doing a tremendous job in pass protection, they're freeing Travis Henry up for some rushing yardage, which always makes things easier on a quarterback. Then on top of that, we've got playmakers across the board. Eric and Peerless are doing a tremendous job, but we've also got a number of other guys that can make plays. If a team decides that they're going to focus on Eric and Peerless and take them away, Jay Riemersma, Josh Reed, Larry Centers coming out of the backfield, who just completed a streak of 143 games in a row where he caught a pass, Travis Henry coming out of the backfield, we've just got a tremendous number of guys who can make plays if in fact somebody is successful in taking Eric and Peerless away.

Q: When you look at SportsCenter and see that the Patriots have lost, what is your reaction? Do you smile? Do you feel a little bad for them?

DB: I look at it now that they're a division team, we're competing with them, and to be honest with you, at the start of the season, they looked so good, it seemed like everybody was going to be chasing them for the rest of the year. They have hit a little bit of a stretch here, and I've talked to a number of those guys, I talk to Damon Huard fairly frequently. I've talked to Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi and [Mike] Vrabel and a bunch of those guys that I was friends with there and I haven't talked to them this week, but I've talked to them through the stretch and I know that it's killing them. They've got a lot of pride they don't expect to lose regardless of how good the competition is that they're playing. I know that with the character and the leadership that they have on that team that they're going to bounce back and we just hope they wait a week to do it.

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