BILL BELICHICK, HEAD COACH
(on connecting with defensive end Chris Long's father)
"It's been great. Howie is a tremendous player. Coming out of Villanova Milford, he has a great connection. Tremendous player, very hard to block. Tremendous motor. I kind of kept track of him through Chris's career. It's good to cross paths with Howie. I have all the respect in the world for him as a person, the way he plays the game and the way he represents the game. He's awesome. Chris does too. Great football family. His brother, working against him in training camp this year with the Bears, it was a big, Long reunion. It was great to see them all there together."
(on how he found Malcom Butler)
"Just digging through some guys at the end of the draft. When the draft was over, there was a number of players that were not signed that we still were interested in. We invited Malcom up for rookie-minicamp. We had probably 10 to 15 players like that. Players that finished their college careers but were not signed by a team. They were essentially there for a tryout, an extended tryout during that period. They were there along with our draft choices and players that we had signed during that draft. We also had a couple of veteran-type players that weren't with a team that fell under a certain category. I'd say once we saw Malcom on the field after the first workout, it was pretty obvious that we felt like this was the type of kid that we want to work with. He was raw technique-wise and all of that. He had a good training camp and got a little bit of playing time during the year. We saw him first hand when we actually saw him in our building in that rookie-minicamp three years ago."
(on reflecting on 10 Super Bowls)
"There will certainly be a time to reflect on that at some point. Right now, I'm really just trying to put all my energy in preparing our team as well as I possibly can for the Falcons. The Falcons are a great football team and well coached. They have a great organization with great players and are very difficult to play against. At some point I'll take a look back. It's certainly an honor to be in this game. It's a privilege to represent the AFC in this championship game and to have done it that many times. It's special this year because (Tight Ends Coach) Brian (Daboll) and (Safeties Coach) Steven (Belichick) are on this staff as well. It's special to be here, there's no question about that. In terms of numbers and other games and all of that, we'll get to that at some other point."
(on quarterback Tom Brady as a role model for younger players)
"Tom works very hard and prepares well. He always has. He's very diligent in his preparation. It's not an up and down thing. It's consistent every week in terms of learning the defense, learning their schemes and their players. Just getting our game plan so he knows what we're doing and how we're doing it. Then, getting into the situational football as we get closer to the game. He's very smart and has a lot of experience. In our system he has a lot of experience against defensive coordinators, different players, and different situations. He's able to put it all together better than any player that I've ever coached. Putting all that together at once in just a couple of seconds of time, he has to process it once he gets the calls and gets to the line of scrimmage. I think his preparation allows him to in part do that. He has the football instincts as well. He's a great role model for all of us. Any player and any coach. All of us."
(on staying motivate despite so much success)
"I don't really see it as work. It's actually beach working. You get to do what you love to do dealing with a lot of great people. I have a great staff. Players work hard and are very cooperative and compliant. They have a great attitude about teamwork, playing unselfishly and working unselfishly. Really doesn't feel like work. Try and give everyone the opportunity to do their job. We have a lot of people that do it very well. A great coaching staff and a great group of players. I have a lot of respect for all of them. I try and stay out of the way and let them do their job. They all do it pretty well."
(on the journey of defensive back Nate Ebner from Olympics to Super Bowl)
"I talked to Nate about that last spring. Then, we got into a contract negotiation with him. Part of that discussion was not just playing for the Patriots but the opportunity to play in the Olympics and so forth. Once we got past that point, we talked about when he came back, what that would be like, what he would need to do to catch up and prepare himself for the season and so forth. We had a number of conversations along the way as well as other members of our staff. Steve, who coached him of course and (Special Teams Coach) Joe Judge who coaches him. Those guys have him primarily at safety and in the kicking game. The first thing was just not to go to fast. Not try and jump from the Olympics back into the National Football League. Preseason, training camp, practices, from Monday to the next. There was a bit of a break in period which I think was good for him. Nate has worked extremely hard this year. He's had a great year and has done a great job taking a strong leadership role amongst the core guys in the kicking game. (WR) Matt Slater does a does a tremendous job for us but they play different positions. Nate is the personal protector on the punt team. That's kind of the quarterback of the punt team. On the punt return, he's right in the middle of the action on checks and stuff like that. He and Matt communicate well together and know the situations as well. He's done a great job for us and has worked really hard. He's helped make a lot of his teammates better by his communication, anticipation, recognition and experience. This is by far his best year. It's somewhat unexpected. He had a very grueling offseason. He talked about some of the workouts he went through in preparation for the Olympics. One thing is that when he came back, he was in great shape. There's no question about that. He had also done a lot of tackling. That was good. He's done a lot of tackling for us this year. Nate has had a really good year for us."
(On reminding players of obscure or rare instances that can occur during a game)
"Those kind of plays come up sometimes once in a career. They are very unusual. First of all, you have to explain the situation so that everyone understands it. In some places, as a coaching staff, we may need further explanation from (Vice President of Officiating) Dean Blandino about particular nuances or that type of thing that could come up. In the end, you try and cover your bases on those. The closest that it really came for us at the Patriots was against Miami in 2002. At the end of the game, we had them backed up and there were just a few seconds to go in the game. They punted but we couldn't make the catch. If we caught the ball, we would've had a free kick opportunity with Adam (Vinatieri). It was a kick that was into the wind and we just couldn't quite get to it. It hit the ground but it would've been a free kick situation. Things like that are unusual. We saw a couple plays this year that were not the norm. For example, the San Francisco play against New Orleans at the end of the half. Things like that that you don't see or haven't seen in a long time. You have to refresh yourself and then remind the players and coaches as well. We do that on a regular basis. We go over situations weekly. A lot of those happen in other games. Sometimes that situation doesn't even lineup with something that happens in our game but it makes you think about things and other adjustments or plays. Some of the situations, if you just add or subtract a second from the situation or add or subtract a few yards and put a timeout into that equation, with or without it, you get a pretty dramatic shift on what the strategy would be, the type of play you would want or wouldn't want. It doesn't take much to tweak some of those situations to really change your thinking. That's where our communication, specifically between the signal callers comes in. That's Tom on offense or (LB) Don'ta (Hightower) and (S) Devin (McCourty) on defense. To know what we want in that situation is critical. It's an ongoing and moving target. It's not so much even the play, it's just knowing how to play the situation. Every team has a different play."
(On monitoring player's energy throughout this ultimate game)
"That's a very challenging situation because there is so much leading up to the game. It's such a long game between pregame, the start of the game, halftime, TV timeouts and so forth. It just extends longer than what it normally does including the pregame part of it. We just try and pace ourselves through that. Some of that is nutrition, hydration and things like that. Part of it is an understanding of what it's going to be like so you don't get surprised and get into the middle of the game or the middle of the third quarter. That's kind of when the game would be ending but there's still another 20 minutes to play or so. I think understanding that and making sure that the pace of the game for each individual, which is different, for an offensive line or defensive line, the pace is a little different than receivers or defensive backs that are running 30, 40, 50 yards to cover. It's the difference between boxing and distance running. Then, you have a lot of guys in between. It's definitely challenging but it's the same for both teams. It's the same environment. Everyone needs to try and maximize all those things I just talked about. Their rest, attentiveness and pace so they don't burn out too soon. It's a challenge. This game is unlike any other that way.
(On LS Joe Cardona)
"It's really a privilege to have Joe on our team. Joe is a tremendous person and he's done a great job as a snapper in terms of protection and recognition of the different rushes that we see in this league and so forth. It's definitely a learning curve for him but he's done a really good job. Him and (DB) Nate Ebner work very well together in terms of handling the protection from the line to the personal protector. Joe is a good athlete. He works hard, trains hard and puts up good numbers in the weight room. He's an athletic kid. We've had less athletic snappers than him put it that way. Joe represents everything that we want to stand for. He's a great person. His real job, defending our freedom is at the very top of the list. We have great respect for the training and the work that he's done. Last year was an even more challenging year for Joe because he was on active duty in Newport. His day job was the Navy and his second job was to play football. Obviously, that's a lot different from any other player in the room. Once everyone fully understood that, you just gained even more respect for Joe. What he was doing was in addition to a job that was for everyone else. Joe's got great leadership as well. For his position, he does an excellent job. He gets along with all of his teammates, interacts well with everyone and is a good communicator. He works hard, does his job and is a very good teammate. He's always trying to help out wherever he can. We're glad we have him. He's improved a lot this year just being able to dedicate the season full-time to football. He had a good season last year but he's made a big jump in year two. We're excited. He's done a good job for us. We're excited to have him."
(On game-planning for the Atlanta Falcons)
"I'd say it's more than in our head or certainly my head. My memory isn't all that good now. I think you go back and look at other games. We critique each game. At the end of each game, we talk about the things ourselves. What we did well, what we didn't do well, what we could've done differently. If we were playing this team again, all the things that might have happened in the game that were noteworthy and so forth. You reflect back on a game like that. Whether it's against the same team you were playing, the same coordinator or a team with a similar playing style. Sure, we look at those notes and sometimes it pops right back to you. Sometimes, maybe you need to go look at it, examine it a little more carefully and see what you did and didn't do. How it matched up against that particular scheme. The players are probably going to be different but from a scheme standpoint, what you were telling about a read or what you were telling a guy to key and that type of thing. How doable that was and how effective that was or wasn't. You go back through your notes on those things. You go back and look at them and say that that was a good idea. Sometimes you look at it and say that it was good for them but this was different or a different situation and we don't want to do that. Somewhere along the line, it all comes together when you sort it out. You add somethings, kick somethings out and end up where you are. Hopefully it ties together. They interface with each other and disguise well. All the plays complement each other offensively so you know how to scatter a play here, a play there, an idea here or an idea there. It all fits together in a good comprehensive gameplan. That process takes some time. It takes some time individually and collectively as a staff. When you put it together and evaluate the practice plays on the field, you modify it a little bit further from there."
(on what Super Bowl LI can do to your legacy)
"I really don't think about any of that. I just try and think about how we can prepare, compete and preform our best Sunday night against the Falcons. That's a thing for you to write about. I'm just trying to get ready to coach the game and our players are getting ready to coach it. We want to go out there and compete on Sunday night. All the rest of it is what it is."
(on how his father influenced his career)
"I grew up going to Navy practices and meetings that he would have with the team. He scouted Navy's upcoming opponents on Tuesday night's. He would go over to the field house, then the team would come over and he would watch the film with them. Of course, back in those days, players went both ways, offense and defense. You would watch continuous film of offense, defense and special teams. The same guys were out there playing whether you were on offense or defense. I would go over there with them, sit and listen to him talk to the team. He just told them that this is what they're going to do, here's the key, this is the backfield stance, whatever it was. Just talking to the team and preparing the team from a scouting standpoint. Of course, that gave me a great opportunity to see a number great coaches that were at the Naval Academy. Head coaches like Wayne Harden and good assistant coaches like coach Rozano and coach Corso, Ernie, George, I'll go down the line. There was dozens of them. Joe Bugal, just all the positions. Each guy had a different style and a different way of doing things. I kind of learned that you could be a good coach doing it this way or doing it that way. As it goes back to my dad, I would say hard work and preparation. To go to a game and watch him scout the game was an unforgettable experience. There would be four or five other scouts in the press box scouting the game. He'd be there with his book and scout it. He would write down the substitutions and the play and would be ready to go for the next play. When it was all over, those plays were the game. You had to wait two days before you had the chance to see the film. You would have other scouts asking what happened on that play. He was just so good at it. When the game would be over and we would be driving home, we would talk about the game but he saw every play. The scheme and the defense, the pattern that they ran, the coverage they were in, who blitzed. He had a great vision. He taught me what he watched for. How he watched the triangle, the fullback, how to move down to the passing game if the quarterback was off the line of scrimmage. If it was a running play, see the blocking pattern. Before that, he already knew the blocking pattern, the down and distance, the formation on the front. That was already locked in and he just put it together. It was really impressive but I realized that came from not just watching it but knowing where the players were and where they came from. When he would come back, he usually came back Saturday night after the game. Say Navy was playing a home game, he would go scout Penn State or whoever it was and get back Saturday night. Sunday morning coach Rozano, coach George, coach Harden would come over or call him and ask him what happened in the game because they hadn't seen the film yet and he'd tell them. Those kinds of things really got him ahead on the game plan. Those are some of the things I learned from him. I was fortunate to. He ran a football camp and I had the opportunity to coach in that camp. Not that I was a coach, but it helped me get into it. In college for sure because I wasn't allowed to go to that camp as a player. That was for high school players only. Kind of just getting into coaching even at that level and just understanding coaching meetings, personalities, decisions, techniques and fundamentals. It was good preparation. Long answer to a short question."
(On his legacy)
"I really don't think about any of that. I just try and think about how we can prepare and perform our best Sunday night against the Falcons. That legacy is a good question but that's for you to write about. I'm just trying to get ready to coach the game and our players are trying to get ready to play it and go out there and compete as hard as we can Sunday night. The rest of it is what it is."
TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK
(on emotional response last night)
"You just have different things that your family goes through throughout the course of your life. It has been a challenging year for my family for some personal reasons. It will be nice to have everyone here watching us this weekend. My mom and dad, they have been so supportive my entire life and it is nice to be here to show them and try to make them proud."
(on whether this is an emotional Super Bowl)
"I think there are different emotions every season. Yeah, this year my mom hasn't been to a game this season and my dad has been to one. It is very atypical. They are going to be here this weekend, which I am excited about, so it will be nice to see everybody. I have a big group coming."
(on having his family here)
"It is great; we will be in full force. I had to get a lot of tickets this week. I saw everyone this morning and they are all excited and gearing up and ready to go. I am excited to see everybody."
(on taking care of his body)
"I said last night that your body for an athlete is what your asset is. If your body breaks down and you can't perform then you have no job. I have tried to learn the right ways to take care of your body. I've talked about nutrition and hydration, the type of workouts that I do, the pliability work that I do. I think that is the reason why I am still playing. I feel very strongly about those things and I talk about them a lot. I am sure the people in Boston hear about them a lot. I would love to pass those things on to future athletes because when I was young I wanted to work really hard too but that is when you work hard at the wrong things and you get better at getting worse. I have learned the right way and hopefully I can pass those on to the kids that are growing up that want to pursue a career in athletics and for a lot of people that like to be active but can't do it because their body hurts. That is something that has always been very important to me. I feel very passionate talking about it at times. Sharing the experiences I have had and trying to pass those on."
(on his thoughts on being a system quarterback)
"They have been called a lot of things as a quarterback. I think every quarterback has some type of system that they are in. Sometimes those systems change. I think the fortunate thing for me is the system has been shaped to adapt to the things that I do well. So much about being successful as a team is doing the things that you do well. Our coaches know what I do well and the things that I don't do well. Every player has strengths and weaknesses. You aren't going to focus on the weaknesses and go out there and go, 'Let's run a bunch of these plays that will have a low level of success.' Over the years the system, they have tried to support me with a strong offensive line which we have, a solid running game, which we have, receivers who are very versatile, smart and disciplined and we have those, tight ends that can do both things in the running and passing game which we have. I think that is part of what our system is, trying every week to find different ways to attack the opponent in a way that we are going to not waste any plays in the game. We want every play to be productive and every play is designed to score a touchdown. That is the kind of pressure you want to put on the opposing defense."
(on his receiving core and Julian Edelman being overlooked)
"Because Chris Hogan had nine (receptions) for 180 (yards) last week. Julian (Edelman) is so productive to where when he is open he usually gets the ball. He has been a rock for our offense especially since Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) has been out because Gronk has been that caliber of player for us too. Between Hogs, what Malcolm Mitchell brings, what Danny (Amendola) does in his role. Danny has made huge play after huge play at the most critical moments for our team. What Michael (Floyd) has done in a short period of time just coming in and learning. He hasn't had all the opportunities but everybody knows they can count on him. That is the kind of team you want to build. You want to build a team that is very difficult to defend. If they are going to cover one guy, then you have to throw it to the other guy and we have to make the plays. If they are going to stop the pass then you have to hand it off and make yards in the run game. That is what makes it challenging for defenses and that is the kind of pressure we need to put on them."
(on what the common thread has been for all of his Super Bowl teams)
"That is tough because all of those teams have been so different. Coach (Bill Belichick) talks about mental toughness so I think that that is probably the best trait for any team or any athlete. Putting whatever is going on the outside, put it away and focus on what your task is. I think our Coach does a great job of keeping us focused every day because every day is an important day in his mind. He walks into a team meeting room every day and says, 'Alright guys, this is a big day,' and he means it. He just doesn't say it the Wednesday of the Super Bowl week, he says it on a Wednesday in April. He understands that it is all a part of the building process to get to this point and we are fortunate to be here. I know there are only two teams to get a chance to play in this game and we are one of them. We don't take it for granted by any stretch. I know how hard it is to get here. There are a lot of things that need to go your way. You need to get a lot of lucky breaks and overcome a lot of injuries. Every team faces different challenges throughout the year but it is tough to get to this point and we are here and we have to go take advantage by going and trying to win this game."
(on when he thought this was a Super Bowl caliber team this season)
"No. The first time that I said Super Bowl was after the (AFC) Championship game. I haven't said Super Bowl until that time. It is fun to talk about it now because we are here and it is the Tuesday before the game. I will be excited to get our pads on tomorrow and get out at practice and start trying to execute and build some trust in one another that we have a great game plan that we can go out and execute. That is when you really start feeling like getting excited for the game when you can put a lot of the obligations aside and focus on football."
(on his relationship with Head Coach Bill Belichick)
"We have always got along so well and I think that the focus has always been on the team and doing what is best for this team. Coach, he commits his life to coaching football and to coaching this team. I commit my life to playing football for this team and playing quarterback. I said last night it is not a sacrifice because I love to do it. There are a lot of other things that I don't get a chance to do that when I am done playing I will get a chance to do. Playing football is so important in my life and I love to do it. I know Coach loves to coach and I love to play and I love playing for him and I want to go out and win this game for not only him but all my coaches, teammates and all our fans. We worked hard to get to this point and we just have to go finish the job."
(on what Owner Robert Kraft has meant to him)
"I am a long way from home and when you are all the way across the country and don't have any family--we have been through a lot of ups and downs together and through a lot of challenging moments that have brought us closer together. He has been a second father to me in a lot of ways and given me a lot of advice over the years about a lot of things that only someone like he could speak to and relate to. Whether it has been family situations or friendship situations, career advice, it has all mattered to me. He knows how I feel about him. It means a lot to him for us to get to this point and he works his butt off to get us here. I know how disappointed he is when we lose this game, he lets me know it. It is great to go out and win it but it is going to take a big effort."
(on what it means for Kraft to come to his defense with issues)
"(Mr. Kraft) is someone special and he obviously means a lot to me. He knows how I feel about him and it is nice to go out there. They provide us with a lot of support and encouragement. He has always opened up his home to me and my family and we have shared holidays together and a lot of meals and conversations about life. That means a lot more at the end of the day. Personal relationships are what life is all about. Football is obviously something that I love but the relationships of football are what are going to be most gratifying. My relationship with him, my coaches and my teammates, those are the things that after it is all said and done that is what you have."
JULIAN EDELMAN, WIDE RECEIVER
(on Tom Brady's soft side that you might see more than the media does)
"Yeah I guess. He is a passionate guy. He is a huge family guy. I guess, yeah."
(on does Tom Brady carry that positive mantra with him everywhere)
"He is a positive guy. He is definitely a positive guy."
(on the balance of media sessions and trying to have normal practice)
"Yeah, we adjust our surroundings. We have a facility we go to. We have our same types of meetings. We are staying in a hotel. The more we can keep it to the similar routine we have at home the better."
(on if practice is more hyped up this week)
"There is more pep in everyone's step because you get those little bumps and bruises, those little sore aches. They kind of go away because you know the magnitude of the game you are about to play in. It is more of an excitement. It is like that."
(on what Chris Hogan has brought to this offense)
"Chris (Hogan) has worked his tail off. He has come in here and he has been a good leader, a great guy to have in the locker room. He works extremely hard. He is more talented than what people are giving him. He is so fast. Anytime you go in and put in the work that he has, results are going to be seen and that is what we are seeing."
(on Chris Hogan's story of going from lacrosse to football)
"It is very impressive. Like I said, he has worked his way to get to where he is at. Around here we like that kind of stuff. Nothing is really given to you. You have to go out and earn everything. He has done that."
(on Martellus Bennett's character)
"Marty (Martellus Bennett) is Marty. So he is definitely fun to have. He is a great teammate. A lot of people want to talk about how charismatic he is, but you know the reason I love him is because he goes out, he practices hard, he plays hard. He is a good teammate. It is good to have those traits."
(on Martellus Bennett's toughness this year playing through injuries)
"He is mentally and physically tough. I mean Marty (Martellus Bennett) has gone out there and he has played very well for us. He has played a lot downs. So I mean the guy practices hard, he plays hard, he plays practically every play so it is great to have him. We are going to need him on Sunday."
(on his relationship with Tom Brady)
"I think it is just what we are passionate about. We both love our families, football and when you combine those and the hours that we put in together, that is just going to naturally going to happen I guess. That is how that goes."
(on winning the Super Bowl for Tom Brady)
"Yeah, I mean you want to win it for all your teammates. Those are the guys that you go in the trenches with. They are the guys that you do the wind sprints with, the weights with. You go into OTAs, the mini-camps and training camps. I mean we see these guys more than we see our families. There is a natural bond and brotherhood that you develop in that time. That is who you play for; you play for your teammates and your family."
(on the chemistry he has with the wide out group)
"We definitely have a bond. We have a room that has a group of guys that like to work, that are dedicated to making their craft better. Not just with receiving and catching, but competing with the run game. So anytime you have those types of guys together that is kind of how we want our room. We got every guy in that room is a team guy; mentally tough, physically tough and you wouldn't want it any other way."
(on it being fun to play in Josh McDaniels' offense)
"Josh (McDaniels) is a very smart offensive coordinator, offensive mind and it is definitely fun to play in his system."
(on all the talk about stopping the Falcons offense and if it feeds him that they are not talking about stopping Patriots offense)
"No, I am not worried about what people are saying. I am worried about what they are doing. I have said that week in and week out. We ignore noise, and we really just to try hunker down on preparation, our practice, and going out and trying to play our best games on Sundays."
(on winning the Super Bowl for Bill Belichick)
"I think it is the ultimate team goal to go out and try to play in the last game and win it. I think it would mean a lot to everyone."
(on if he is surprised at how well he played coming off his injury last season)
"No, I am not. I put a lot of work into it. I have dealt with that injury before so I knew what I was going with. It is in the past and we are moving on."
(on how he feels about the preparation so far)
"I feel that we still have time to prepare. We had a few good days last week. We have got to continue to build off those because the more and more you watch these guys, the more and more you see why they have won so many games and why they are at where they are at. The preparation process hasn't ended, it technically just started. They are a very good football team and we are going to have to take advantage of these next few days and go from there."
(on when facing a new team if anything changes within game adjustments)
"I think that as a collective unit, that everyone has to be able to adjust. Anytime you go into these types of games, you expect there to be some sort of adjustments. We are just going to have to prepared for those types of adjustments."
(on pride in being the number one wide receiver the other team focuses on)
"I don't necessarily really focus on that. I focus not what they feel or where their pride is going, but where their mind is going towards the game and how they are going to react to things we do."
(on the offensive weapons making the team special)
"I think that it the reason why we are at where we are at. Anytime you have a lot of guys who can makes plays, just through the years of playing that is usually the teams that go further. It is a good thing to have that."
(on his attitude on not being happy just winning the AFC championship)
"I was definitely happy, (but) there is still some meat on the bone. I like to bring those ribs right down to the bone. Got to get all the meat."
(on the communication on the field and how much relies on QB Tom Brady)
"Communication is key (to) all success of anything, I think. We work on that a lot. The better we communicate – I mean communication goes on throughout the whole game. From personnel groups, play call, on the ball, you have to be able to communicate in a split second at all times. That is what practices (are) for, and that is what we like try to prepare for in practice with all those types of things."
(on his ability to find the open spots on the field)
"I think the fact that I played quarterback in college helped a little bit with that. I think experience also does help with that. A lot of practice. So you mix all those together and that is kind of how I got to where I am at. I got to continue to try and get better."
(on what he would say to young kids who want to grow up and be like him)
"I would tell them to go out and try and find their talent. If it is their dream, ignore noise, ignore what everyone is going to say, and think about what you have to do to make your craft as best as possible. Put the effort in and you got to be relentless. If you really want it, you got to go out and get it. So that is what I would say to them."
(on how he shuts out distractions this week)
"You know we (are) designated to do this how long, 45 minutes, 50 minutes. The rest of the day is predicated towards your regular routine. I mean it is pretty similar to being at home just a probably like a thousand more reporters. Just got to deal with (it)."
DURON HARMON, SAFETY
(on what he has seen from the Falcons receivers)
"Just making plays everywhere. I mean, you've got (WR) Julio Jones, arguably the best receiver in the game. He can run, he can catch the ball, he's fast, he can jump – he does everything that you want a receiver to do. And then you've got (WR) Mohamed Sanu continuing to make big catches. I mean, this whole postseason he's made touchdowns and he's making great catches. You've got (WR Taylor) Gabriel. He's fast. (RB Tevin) Coleman, (RB) Devonta (Freeman), those guys running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield, (QB) Matt Ryan getting the ball out quick finding his receivers. So this whole group is a dynamic group from the top to the bottom. We're going to need all 11 guys to come ready to play, be locked in each and every play, doing our assignment and just playing hard each and every play. It's going to take every play. We've got to focus on every play, one play at a time, and just play the best ball that we can play to try to stop these guys."
(on if he would define the secondary as a brotherhood)
"I'd say it's definitely a brotherhood just with the guys, me, Dev (DB Devin McCourty), Log (CB Logan Ryan). I mean, we're all close, but I wouldn't say it's just the secondary. I would say I love all my teammates. It's a brotherhood between each and every Patriot and everybody within the staff. Everybody cares for each other. We chill with each other, we spend time with each other and we're just going out here playing this game as a family. I think that's what's really let us have the success. We go out there just trying to not let each other down, play hard for each other, go out there, tackle, catching a pass – I just know everybody's out there doing their job just trying to hold up their end of the bargain for their brother."
(on if the obstacles this season make this Super Bowl more special)
"I'd say yes. It's definitely special. Just the guys who are here now, this whole year, like you said, it's been different things--(QB Tom) Brady's suspension, trade of players, getting rid of players, like the whole roster just being different. But it's just special because from the defensive standpoint, a lot of people said we weren't good at the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, but we really didn't listen to that. We just continue to get better. We continue to grow. We continue to make changes on the defensive side, and it worked out best. It just makes everything better, just being in this position right now."
(on if there is a funny moment with TE Martellus Bennett from the season that stands out)
"I would say every day with Marty is a funny moment. I mean, he's a great teammate. I can't really think of one off the top of my head, but I'll say having him has been a joy. He's really a joy in the locker room. He's always laughing, always smiling and always bringing positive energy to the team. He's actually become one of my closest friends. We go to dinner with our wives—me, him, Dev, Log—he's the only offensive player that comes, so we must like him a little bit. It's been a joy to have him around. I'd say he's definitely become a good friend of mine."
(on if the team has embraced the "New England vs. the world" mentality fans have rallied around)
"We really haven't talked about it too much, just for the fact that we have a great fan base. We have one of the best fan bases in sports. I mean, we continue to get the support from them each and every week. Us against the world isn't going to win us any games. What's going to win us games is practicing, preparing, studying film, executing the game plan and then being able to do that for 60 minutes against a great Falcons team on Sunday."
(on how Malcolm Butler's role has evolved since Super Bowl XLIX)
"He's just continued to improve. He's continued to get better. He hasn't let that one play define him. When people talk about Malcolm Butler, the first thing they might say is that interception, but after that, they're going to say he's consistently gotten better. He's an All-Pro and he's a Pro Bowl player. It's exciting to see that he hasn't gotten stagnant in his career. He's continued to want more. He's continued to want to get better. The sky is really the limit for him, and I'm excited to see where he continues to grow to be as a player."
(on the difference in coaching styles between Head Coach Bill Belichick and safeties coach Steve Belichick)
"I'd say it's a lot different. Bill is Bill. We all know Bill. And I'd say Steve, he's not there to point of Bill, but he's at a point where he's still a teacher. He's demanding in his own way, but I'll say he's not a yeller. He likes our input. He works well with us and he's really great to have. Him being relatively our age, it's good to have a guy who can think more like us and go in there and give our point of view to the coaches and try to get what we think is good for us, as well."
(on who in his life has helped him reach this stage in his career)
"In my life, I would say probably just my mom. I mean, she's everything to me. I've seen her at her worst but continue to provide for me and my sisters. She's strong. When I was younger, that's who I did it for. She did everything she could to put me in the position to succeed. I know that if it really wasn't for her pushing me, driving me, I wouldn't be in this place I am today."
(on how practicing against QB Tom Brady has made the secondary better)
"It has helped a lot just going against him. My opinion—I mean, does it really matter—I think he's the greatest quarterback ever, but for him to go out there and to be able to not only practice against him, but be able to talk to him after practice and being able to see what he's seeing, like why did you throw that ball, what did you see from me that made you go here. Being able to have that type of context, that conversation with him has really allowed me to evolve and become a better player and a smarter player at the same time."
(on what it would mean to the team to help cement the legacies of Belichick and Brady by winning another Super Bowl)
"It would be amazing. Those guys, they've been pivotal [to] me, in my career and just helping me become a better player. Like I said, Tom letting me have that type of conversation with him, to letting me become a better player, to what he's seeing, to try to help me become better, and then Bill Belichick. Just literally challenged me each and every day to be better a player, never letting me be satisfied. If me doing anything to help them reach a different type of stratosphere when it comes to being great I would be eager and blessed to be able to do that.
(on the team wanting to win this game for Brady and Belichick's legacies)
"I would say it's something that we want for everybody, this whole organization. This team is different. It's different than the 2014 team. It's something that I want for all my brothers, all the coaches, the whole staff because it's something that we work hard for. It's something that for eight months out of the year we put everything we have into it to be Super Bowl Champions."
(on his reaction to seeing Brady get emotional when speaking about his dad on opening night)
"That's what I see each and every day. He's emotional, he works hard, he puts everything he does and everything he has into this sport. You've got to think about it, he's 39 and he's playing at a level that people wish they could play at in their prime. He puts everything into it. Practices are like games to him. He's out there, he's getting people right, he's getting excited, he's yelling—it's just like a game. When you see a leader do that each and every day it's hard for the whole team not to try to replicate that energy, that emotion. I would say he definitely helps drive this team."
(on if he wonders where he would be in his career if Belichick had not discovered his talent out of college)
"I would say, I feel like I always could play in this league. It's always about you and it's always about you continuing in trying to get better. I feel like that's my attitude since I was young. I feel like I would have been an NFL player, but I would say just being under Coach Belichick, he has made me a much better football player because I'll say I've never been challenged the way that he's challenged me. I've never been coached the way he has coached me. He just expects excellence. Having that on you all the time it can either break you or it can make you a better player. I really feel like it's continuing to just help me be a better player, so I know the player I am has a lot to do with Coach Belichick."
CHRIS LONG, DEFENSIVE END
(on reports that Kyle Shanahan reportedly lost his playbook at Opening Night)
"I don't know if that's true or not, so I can't comment on that."
(on if the Atlanta Falcons offense is fast)
"Yeah. They're fast everywhere. Really, as a whole, offensively, they're unique in that they don't really have a weakness. They've got two great receivers. Probably the best receiver in the game. A lot of fast guys that play roles, and then two running backs that are as good catching as running the football on an offensive line that's been one of the groups with the most continuity in the whole league. And obviously Matt (Ryan)."
(on if he will be able to hang out with his father, Howie Long, this week)
"Yeah, we'll definitely hang out. We've already texted. He got in last night; it was just a little late. We'll hang out and he'll be on the field on Sunday. He's just told me to keep things in perspective, enjoy it, and don't let the moment just fly by and be so into your work that you can't just take a step back and be like, 'Hey, it's pretty cool that we're all here. We've earned it and go have fun.'"
(on how special it would be to embrace his father after the game if the Patriots win)
"My son will probably get the first hug. The rest will be me and my pops, but my son will be my first one."
(on how amazing it is to be playing in the Super Bowl)
"Yeah, this is all crazy to me. I've never been close to this. I guess the plane landing and seeing all of that media just for us on the runway and then leaving from Foxboro with all of that support with our fans outside. When you turn on the t.v. inside to work, I'm like 'Whoa there's like thousands of people out there.' I mean it's crazy."
(on why he chose to join the Patriots)
"I kind of bet on the fact that this is the place that would give me the best opportunity to be here in this situation. There's a reason for that. I've learned that through the year and why these guys are in so many positions like this. They treat them as opportunities. We treat them as opportunities. You can't take them for granted and I think that's why we're here. We've earned that. Atlanta's earned this opportunity. Two great football teams."
(on what he has learned this season)
"I think preparing every week like it's the most important game in the world makes things a little easier once you get in situations where a lot more people are watching and it might be a lot more important for people outside of the building. Every week we're grinding it out like it is our last game and then when it is our last game it makes things easier."
(on where the Patriots are in football history)
"As you mentioned, I like the history of the game, but it's probably above my pay grade to make that call."
(on his thoughts on how Tom Brady prepares)
"Everybody knows the way Tom prepares. Everybody knows the way he practices, plays, the passion he brings and the teammate he is. The last thing I said I think is really what has been just above and beyond anything you would expect. What a team player he is. What a good locker room guy he is. He pays attention to everybody. He's a great teammate. He's fun. He brings out the best in his teammates."
(on if he was surprised that Brady got emotional speaking about his father)
"I know he's a great father. He's a great family man. He's always spoke highly of his family growing up and playing football. Obviously, it means a lot to him. You can see it in the way he works. Tom's just a good dude."
(on if he will cherish the moment even more because his father will be working the game)
"Yeah, I definitely cherish the moment even more because my son will be here. My dad and I shared a lot of football memories. As far as my son, I don't necessarily want him to remember me as a football player, but I think it's a cool opportunity and you never know when you're going to get back, so that's cool for me."
(on if he believes there's a difference in the Patriot's work environment compared to other organizations)
"Even though I was on one team for eight years, I played for a lot of coaches, so I've been through a lot of systems, a lot of coaches, a lot of styles of coaching and schemes. For me, coming into new situations I try to have no expectations. Coming in it was different just like all of the other coaches I've had and all of the other regimes I've been under."
(on why Julian Edelman is never mentioned as one of the greatest wide receivers in the NFL)
"I think people that know football know he's one of the best. The way he works, the way he brings it every day, the role he's played here is very good for what we do, and great at breaking tackles. Tough player. I think he's got, obviously, everybody's respect in our locker room. I think football players that really know the game know he's one of the best."
(on Edelman not being just another product of Brady's)
"No. I don't think so. I mean, that's a hell of a product if he is. I think Julian would be good wherever you plugged him at. I know he's played defense for us before, so he's a football player."
(on playing against Matt Ryan)
"Matt and I have kind of been along the same football path, at least being in the ACC, same draft, and all that. I've watch his game as it's elevated and it elevated. He was always a good player, but the older he gets the better he gets. I'm really just happy for him. This is a great thing that he deserves, to be here, and we've got a hell of a challenge."
(on how difficult it was to learn the Patriot's defensive system)
"Well, it's a really tough system to learn and all of the players in it are expected to play a lot of different roles. At the end of the day, Coach Belichick does a great job of bringing in people he knows that will fit well. Whatever that role may be, it might not even be apparent to you at the time, but he has something in mind and with a guy like Kyle (Van Noy) and all of these other guys, they've come in and hit the ground running. A lot of that is credit to them, but also to the coaches for putting them in the right positions."
(on how long it took him to be comfortable playing under the Patriots' defensive system)
"I'd say I'm as comfortable as I'm going to be. I've been here awhile. There's a lot that changes week-to-week, so you have to be able to hit the curveball. It's not necessarily any easier, sometimes, for a new guy than it is for a guy that's been there for a long time because it's always evolving and changing."
(on if the constant change to the system is why it is difficult to master the Patriots' system)
"Yeah. I mean your role changes all of the time. That's why, I think, we're in the position we're in because we have guys that can play different roles and can hit the curveball. I've played all over the place this year. I've played inside, outside, dropping coverage, all of that stuff. I don't know too many places where you have guys that we have on our d-line and linebacker crew that can do so many different things."
(on the constant change in the system being a challenge)
"Yeah, it can be, but you have to be willing to do it to help the team. I think putting the team above yourself and not worrying about, 'Hey, this is best for me,' and what you think. It's about what's going to help us win football games."
(on if it's a whole new level of preparation)
"I think every NFL team is working as nearly as hard as they can, if not as hard as they can to put out a good product on Sundays. It's just sometimes how you're working and what you're working on is what separates you. The players, you have to put it into action. I don't want to say we work harder than everybody else. I think we work very hard. Everybody in the league is believing that. Among other teams, it wasn't a reality for us. 'It wasn't about working hard, maybe we were just running the wrong way.'"