Q: When you're playing quarterback, you have so much to process and one of the things is that you take the health of these guys in your hands. How hard is it to carry that responsibility?
TB:Yeah because you hate to see, you throw the ball to a position where your player, certainly one of your receivers, is in a vulnerable position. So it gets tough, and you always try to gauge how close a defender is and his ability to close on the ball and so forth, but yeah, it's a real hard thing for a quarterback.
Q: Can you play your position with that in mind?
TB:Yeah, absolutely. You know when a defender is in certain positions where you can't throw your guy, I mean you never want to throw into a certain zone where a guy is just eyeing you and lining your receiver up and it's a big blowup. There are a lot of times it's out-breaking routes and there's a corner that's sitting outside, and they come from the outside in and hit your receiver. You never really want to do that. We talk about that all the time. I think it's obviously a contact sport. Guys are going to get hit. You hate to see one of your guys take hits, and I do think they should change some of those rules with those defenseless receivers. I don't think there's anything different than a chop block. I mean, everyone else has their legs protected in the NFL. Quarterbacks get their legs protected. Defensive linemen get their legs protected. Linebackers get their legs protected. I don't see why a defenseless receiver shouldn't get his legs protected as well, so maybe that's something they'll look at in the offseason.
Q: Have you figured out the officiating? Some are speculating that the Patriots aren't getting the officials' ears as much as other teams?
TB:Yeah, we're just going to try to do our job. We'll let them do the officiating. Coach talks to those guys all the time, and he tries to fill us in on the conversations he has so we'll know when we're out there.
Q: You seemed upset about it Sunday night and Monday morning.
TB:That was only like a three-hour difference between after the game and when I talked on the radio the next morning, so it was probably the same level of emotion that I was going through after the game. So I've calmed down a little bit. And we've moved on from that game because we're facing a great opponent this week in the Eagles, and we're going to have to be at our best.
Q: Why is it that this team rarely loses back-to-back games?
TB:Yeah, I think we all want to get back out there because it's been a long time since we've lost a meaningful game. It just sucks, so I'm glad we're not in a position where ... It is always hard to win, especially going on the road against good teams and you've got to play really well. And when that game ends, you've got to, as fast as you can, turn the page and move on. So we've got to move on with obviously some different challenges, whether that's personnel-related, whether that's scheme-related. Every week presents different challenges, and I think as a player, you just have to start every week with a fresh slate and try to go out and give ... You really put everything you can into it, 100 percent of your energy and emotion, and then you go out and you try to do it again.
Q: With so many players missing from your offensive lineup, do you have to adjust your thinking about what you can try to do versus what is reasonable to do?
TB:I think that's a lot what the coaches try to do on Mondays and Tuesdays is figure out scheme-wise how we're going to try to move the ball down the field. So you're right. It does take on a little bit of a different approach when certain guys are missing because it's just pretty natural for you to do as an offense because different guys have different skillsets. When a certain player is in there, you may do something really well, and then when he goes out, another guy who goes in that position might do something else well and you try to do those things. I think it's just a concerted effort by everybody, the coaches and the players, to try to get to the things that we're good at versus the things that they're not good at, which is obviously a big challenge. And it's not easy to do over the course of 16 weeks. That's why it's hard to win every week because every week changes and the availability of players change and schemes change. It's just, it's always very challenging.
Q: How much is execution in the fourth quarter and concentration and extra toughness going to be a focus this week?
TB:I think those are, playing for 60 minutes against good opponents, you have to do that. So this week, you can't just play 45 good minutes or 30 good minutes. Some weeks you get away with it and I'd say you get lucky. Most of the time you've got to play to the end and hope that you play with concentration, that you play with all the energy, and focus all the way until the game ends. If you don't, then one play changes games, and that was just one of those situations last week where we didn't play as well as we would've liked to for 60 minutes. We get an opportunity this week to do that. It's a good team that's got a lot of guys coming back. They have their own challenges that they present to us, and we're going to have to do a good job.
Q: Danny Amendola said he felt good today. How happy would you be about having a guy like Amendola back?
TB:Well that would be great. We'll see how that goes throughout the week. Danny always tells me that. He always feels good. He's a tough guy. Danny is a warrior, man.
Q: Have even the Patriots changed the way they communicate in the high-tech world we live in today? Rob Gronkowski even tweeted about his injury, and the Patriots themselves put out a statement on social media. Is something different here in Foxboro? Do you feel more comfortable sharing information?
TB:Definitely not. Things always evolve and change. I think naturally, as a person, you evolve and change over time based on the life experiences that you have. Hopefully we all evolve and change based on your own experiences, so maybe there's a bit of change in Foxboro.
Q: Were you surprised to see Gronkowski tweeting a video of his own injury update?
TB:I didn't pay attention to it truthfully. I was pretty busy yesterday getting caught up on the Eagles stuff.
DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN MCCOURTY CONFERENCE CALL WITH WASHINGTON MEDIA
Q: Before you resigned with New England, what did you know about the Eagles interest in you?
DM:That there was a possibility of some interest, but it didn't really get too far into it really.
Q: There was a report that they offered more money. Did it get that far?
DM:That was a long time ago. It's like Week 12. I don't remember.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on who should or could be the next head coach at Rutgers?
DM:I'm not sure. I had a really good relationship with [Kyle] Flood, so I hate to see him go. But I'd be lying to you if I said I knew anything about who could or should be the next head coach. I mean obviously the only guy, I've seen names like Coach [Greg] Schiano. I know him. I know he could do a great job, but other than that, I really wouldn't know who could be another good possibility.
Q: What have you seen from Duron Harmon? It seems like he's grown. Do you see him taking a bigger role this year?
DM:Yeah, definitely, and I think the biggest thing, like you said, is his growth. He's continued to grow as a player. He hasn't really been complacent with any success he's had or any time he's done well. You look back last year at the Baltimore game where he had a big play, made some plays throughout that game, and his focus this offseason was to get better and be on the field more. I'm just happy for him because his hard work is paying off, and you see him out there making a ton of plays for us – big reason why we've been able to be successful in the secondary.
Q: Do you think that the fact that you had guys like Harmon and Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan helped temper the impact of losing other players in the secondary to free agency?
DM:Definitely. Obviously you lose some really good players, and you've got some young guys who have made some plays, have been out there a little bit, but not full throttle, I think a lot of people were wondering what's next, what's going to happen. I think just for us, we need a type of guy that we had here – hard workers. And we knew they had talent, they just needed to get out there I think. It's a real calming feeling here. We are fully confident in the guys we have in this locker room, and I think it's showed throughout the season.
Q: When you look at the Eagles offense, who are some of the bigger threats that you've identified?
DM:I think that's what's tough about them. You really can't go out there and say, "I'm only going to stop one or two guys," because either [Sam] Bradford or [Matt] Sanchez, whoever is out there, they do a good job of running the offense and finding open guys. So, obviously all three backs are really good. [Zach] Ertz and [Brent] Celek have made a ton of plays. When you combine the amount of catches and yards they have, you know it's a top tight end combination. Then with the receivers, I think they all go deep. Obviously, [Jordan] Matthews has a lot of targets, so you know he sticks out for them, but there's Riley Cooper, [Josh] Huff, Ago [Nelson Agholor]. They're all out there making plays, so it's hard to really focus on one or two guys. I think this is a week where we've all got to kind of do our job and play together to stop whoever the go to guy is on whatever specific play that it is.
Q: Both of the Eagles safeties, Malcolm Jenkins andWalter Thurmond, are converted cornerbacks. What does it take to make that conversion from corner to safety?
DM: I think if you probably talk to those guys, they probably have a high knowledge of the game, especially in the secondary and knowing how everything works. I think that's the biggest thing, if you have a good understanding of it. You've got to obviously be good, physical, strong tacklers to move because at safety you're in different situations than you are at corner. And I think both those guys, it really helps with their coverage ability. If you put them in a tough spot that you really normally wouldn't ask safeties to do, both of those guys go out there and do those things at a high level. I've been able to see them a lot through common opponents, so I definitely turn on the Philly defense when we're playing a team just to see how those two guys play because I think they're definitely similar to myself and [Patrick] Chung on how we're asked to play in our defense.