After taking in a "really good" performance of Hamilton Tuesday night in Boston, Tom Brady was back to Gillette Stadium for some bye-week work.
Fresh off a full-pads practice in Foxborough, Brady took to the podium for his weekly press conference with the New England media.
Not surprisingly, Brady was asked what he and the team hope to take from the much-needed week off in Week 11, days removed from an embarrassing loss in Tennessee that dropped New England to 7-3 at the break.
"I think just the overall evaluation of kind of where we're at, what we've done, what we need to do going forward," Brady explained. "I know the coaches have worked pretty hard on that, talked about a lot of things the last few days. I feel like the bye week always comes at a good time whenever it comes but it just gives everyone a chance to – you know, we've had a lot of weeks of football and we've got some really important ones coming up. So hopefully we can learn from the things that have happened over the course of the season and use them to our advantage moving forward."
Over the course of his 19 seasons, Brady thinks he has learned exactly how to put the bye to good use. Just don't expect him to share his secrets.
"All quarterbacks are a little bit different. So I certainly have a routine that I would never give away," Brady said. "But I'm trying to evaluate the different physical errors, mental errors and sometimes there's one, sometimes there's none, sometimes there's both. The less errors you can make the better. Could be a read, could be a decision, could be a throw. Ultimately, it's just trying to be productive, like I said, to score points, help us win."
Though he left the loss in Tennessee midway through the fourth quarter, just a play after stumbling to the turf short of the first-down on a trip-play reception from Julian Edelman, Brady did proclaim himself relatively healthy at this point in the long NFL season.
"Pretty good, pretty good," Brady said of how he's feeling a week before Thanksgiving. "Some bumps and bruises but I think that's part of football season and I feel pretty good."
Beyond his breakdown of the bye week, here are some of the other takeaways from Brady's Wednesday afternoon press conference.
Looking forward to Gronk's post-bye return?: Tight end Rob Gronkowksi has missed three games this season, including the last two heading into the bye. The All-Pro tight end has dealt with ankle and back injuries, which likely have played a part in his limited production. With 29 catches for 448 yards and mere one touchdown, Gronkowski hasn't put up his usual impactful numbers. But Brady is still clearly looking forward to his big tight end's return to the lineup.
"Whenever we get him back, I think everyone's going to be excited about that," Brady said. "Hopefully it's soon, but those things are really up to him and the trainers and so forth. I know he works extremely hard at preparing and I know he wants to be out there. So I think really getting everyone out there, everyone that is on the roster, that's available, that we have confidence in, that can go out and help us win games and make plays and be productive. That's what our goal is."
Show some ID!: It's mid-November and the Patriots are 7-3. They are coming off an ugly loss Sunday afternoon in Tennessee. There have been ups and downs throughout the team, including the offense. It's hard to point to one area that has been a consistent strength through two-plus months of action.
So it was that Brady was asked about his offense's identity at this relatively late point in the process. Or, more accurately, a the lack of an identity as the stretch run nears.
"I think we're definitely trying to find things that … this is the first really chance we've had to evaluate that. There's been a lot of moving parts this year for one reason or another with the receivers, tight ends, running backs, a little bit with the o-line, not so much with the quarterback position," Brady said, finishing with a smirk. "But I think that's all part of what we're trying to do. We've got to get out there and practice together and that transitions. If you practice well, you can gain a lot of confidence and ultimately you go out and you play confidently because you can play aggressively knowing what the other guys are doing. We just haven't had that, I would say, overall consistency and the ability to practice together – which that's not an excuse. I mean, every team goes through that. A lot of teams deal with injuries and moving parts and bringing different people in. That's just part of football. But we're trying to adjust and adapt like everyone else. Some weeks it's been better than others. But we're just trying to grind our way through it.
"I think the important part is what we've always realized, is we're going to learn as we go and you're always judged over the course of 16 weeks, not four games or the first eight games or the first 12 games. It's really a long season and you've got to be playing your best at the end of the year and that's what we're coming up on. So it's a lot of urgency our coaches put on us to be able to do that and we'll see what we do. I think it's one thing to say it. It's another to go do it and I think we have a great intention to go out there and do it."
Not feeling the pressure: According to ESPN, Brady has the lowest passer rating in the NFL this season when a defense blitzes, sending five or more rushers. It's a different story for the New England passer, who's generally fared quite well when blitzed and taken advantage of the opportunities it can open up in coverage.
Asked about his issues against the blitz this season, Brady expressed ignorance of his dismal numbers against extra rushers and what exactly has led to them.
"Well anytime you're last in the league in anything, that's probably not very good. I haven't studied that as much," Brady explained. "I think if they blitz it gives us great opportunities to make plays and if we're not doing that, then we've got to figure out how to do it. I think if you rush three, or four, or five, there's going to be opportunities, really in any case. It's just what you do with the opportunities. Hopefully we can figure that out, get out of the basement and move our way up."