Much like Bill Belichick’s press conference a couple hours earlier, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s Friday afternoon session with the media kicked off with some questions about another local sports team.
Though Brady didn’t stay up to watch the Red Sox clinch a trip to the World Series Thursday night with a 4-1 win over the Astros in Houston, he understood the excitement it’s creating in the New England sports landscape.
“I’m glad they won,” Brady said. “That was pretty cool.
“Boston’s got it pretty good right now, got a lot of good teams.”
Brady was then asked a bigger-picture question about the success of professional sports in New England over the last two decades – including 10 titles across the four major sports – that was kicked off in February of 2002 with the Patriots first Lombardi Trophy.
“It’s been a lot of fun for all of us, for all these teams, to kind of be a part of winning in your own team but being there to kind of celebrate everyone else’s wins too,” Brady reflected. “I have had a lot of friends on all of those teams over the years and it’s great to see everyone playing well. I think to see the Red Sox doing what they’re doing, when I first got here in 2000 it was, they had some good teams and really broke through just like we did. And it’s been a lot of fun ever since.”
Beyond Brady’s thoughts on the overall success of Boston sports teams during his career in New England, here are some of the other highlights of the quarterback’s Friday afternoon press conference.
Bears the “best defense we’ve played in a long time”: A lot has been made in recent weeks about the lack of good defense in the NFL. Rules changes have certainly made for a game more friendly to offenses. But, according to Brady, he and his unit face a major challenge against the Bears in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.
Chicago has the NFL’s No. 10 defense based on yards allowed, including the No. 4 unit against the run. The Bears have the league’s No. 4 unit in points allowed and rank No. 3 in sacks per pass play.
Having already played the Jaguars earlier this season on the road, Brady sees Chicago as a step above other teams he’s had to prepare for.
“This is the best defense we’ve played in a long time,” Brady said after listing the impressive talent on the Bears depth chart. “So we’re going to have to go and play really well on the road. We’ve talked a lot about playing on the road this week and kind of what we need to do to get a win. We haven’t played very well on the road this year. We’re going to need to play a lot better than we played the first two times on the road in order to win.”
Brady “bragging” about run past Urlacher: One of the more memorable runs of Brady’s career came in a meeting with the Bears back in 2006 in Foxborough. On the third-and-9 play Brady took off and found himself in the middle of the field with Chicago Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher. He put a little wiggle on the star defender to pick up the first down and ignite the Gillette Stadium crowd.
Brady has fond memories of the rare play that he made with his feet rather than his arm.
“That was a good play,” Brady began with a sly smile. “You don’t see too many runs like that from me, against a Hall of Famer. I’m lucky I didn’t get my head taken off. That was pretty memorable. I was pretty jacked up after that. I thought Brian was a great player and had a lot of respect for him, how he played. Going toward the [Gillette Stadium] Lighthouse, it was third down and every once in a while I kind of shake someone. Probably won’t ever happen again.”
Something he can brag to his grandchildren about?
“I’m going to be bragging to everyone about that for a long time.”
‘Working on’ rapport with Gordon: Josh Gordon sounded upbeat in the Patriots locker room on Friday, especially in regards to his growing rapport with Brady on timing throws like back-shoulder passes. Though the two weren’t exactly on the same page on a couple of occasions in last Sunday night’s win over the Chiefs, the quarterback also sounds pleased with the growing relationship with his new target. But he also understands that some aspects of their budding rapport will only come with time and reps.
“It’s a lot of playing together, I think, over a long period of time,” Brady said of the back-shoulder throws. “I think the longer you play with guys you just learn body language. They know when to expect it and look. I think those plays, timing and accuracy are important on all those ones. I just have to do a better job giving him opportunities to catch them. I think he has great hands. He has great awareness and feel. I’m just so impressed in how he’s come in and learned everything and the role that he’s taken on. I have to do a better job of putting the ball in his position where he can just go make the play.”
The reps, even the mistakes in games, will help. But it’s still a work in progress after Gordon’s in-season arrival via trade from the Browns.
“I think we’re working on it. I think every day we’re working on it,” Brady said. “I just think the longer that we go the better it’s going to get. It’s going to get better over the course of time. It’s not to be one week or two weeks. It’s going to be every week. And if you just keep building it just gets better and better and better. So that’s what we’re working at.”