Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his locker room interview on Wednesday, October 20, 2010.
Q: Considering all that has happened so far this season, how does the team find itself standing at 4-1?
TB: Well, I think we're just trying to make improvements. I certainly don't think that everything's gone right for us. We're working hard to make a lot of improvements. It's still so early in the year, not even one-third the way through the season. There's a lot of football left for us. We have to have a good week this week. We are playing a very talented team that plays very well at home. As Coach Belichick alluded to us this morning, they've been winning their games at home by four touchdowns or something like that. I have a lot of respect for them. We've played them a bunch. It's tough to play out there. We haven't always had a lot of success out there. So, it's a long trip, but we have to have a good day today.
Q: How much talk will there be this week about the loss New England suffered in San Diego two years ago?
TB: Quite a bit, quite a bit. I think that certain teams play differently at home than they do on the road. They're 2-0 at home and 0-4 on the road. We're playing them at home, so I'm sure we're going to get their best. The times we played out there like in '06 was a battle, hard fought game that we ended up winning. We lost to them in '08. They really beat us up pretty good. It's going to be a good challenge. I think everyone's looking forward to it. I think we want to play the good teams. We want to play them on the road. We played a good game on the road last time against Miami and we have to put another one together this week.
Q: Is play-action something this offense depends on to throw the ball downfield?
TB: You have short play actions, intermediate play actions, and deep play actions. It just depends. The great part about play-action passing is that it slows down the rush a little bit and you have some time to look down the field. A lot of teams - when you drop back to pass, it's tough to get the ball down the field. They see you're passing and those rushers pin their ears back and they really get after the passer. Our play actions were definitely good last week and they need to be good this week. That also means we need to run the ball. There are a lot of things we didn't do well last week that we need to do this week.
Q: What have you been most impressed about with Danny Woodhead?
TB: Everything. I didn't know much about him until we got him, but what a great surprise it's been. His ability to run the ball probably is the, you know, when you see a guy of his stature, you don't know what to expect, but he really makes guys miss. He's been great in the passing game. He has a great attitude. I think that's exactly what we're looking for.
Q: The Ravens seemed to creep their safeties up on you last week. Is that something you expect more of going forward?
TB: I'm not sure I totally agree with that. If you bring guys up, you're exposing something deep. If you play deep, you can't cover everything on defense. You try to pick what, you know, I said earlier last week, when a team blitzes a lot, they're worse in coverage. When they cover a lot, they're worse in pass rush. It's just about mixing and matching. So, with a game like this in San Diego, if the safeties are going to come down low and try to stop the run, you'll have opportunities in the pass game. When they stay back, you have to be able to run the ball. It's hard if they're back and you don't run it and it's hard if they're up and you throw it and you don't complete it. That's where you get into problems as an offense, where you can't really take advantage of what they're doing on defense.
Q: Do you welcome a team pressing the safeties?
TB: Sure, and I think there are different matchups we have with our guys. If you bring the safety down, it typically means that you're playing man-to-man coverage. It's less zone. Our guys have to get open against man-to-man coverage. This is a team that likes to stop the run. They get guys down there. They're trying to force pressure on the quarterback. It's a blitzing team. We need to be able to take advantage of those things.
Q: How have the Chargers been able to make up for the loss of Shawne Merriman?
TB: They have a ton of sacks. I think they're first in the league in defense. [Shaun] Phillips has six sacks. He's a great pass rusher. They have a very good font seven. It seems like every team is playing the 3-4 now, too. This is about the fifth game in a row we've played the 3-4. So, it means you have good pass rushers, outside linebackers. It typically means you have a good, athletic group of linebackers - and these guys certainly do. [They have] a very stout front. It's a good test.
Q: (On the offense's second-half performance on Sunday)
TB: We certainly executed better. In a game like this against San Diego, we can't just play 30 minutes of football. There's not one position on this team that can't have their best game. The way they play at home, the explosiveness they have on offense, the way they're creating turnovers on defense and sacks and negative plays, each guy in this locker room has to have their best game this week. That's what we need to do.
Q: Has football become too violent or is that argument something the media is sensationalizing a little bit?
TB: I've never really hit anybody in the head and I don't get hit too much in the head. Who knows? They make rules and we have to follow them.
Q: What is your reaction to James Harrison saying he would consider retirement instead of playing with the NFL's changed rules?
TB: I'd love for him to retire. If he retired, it'd make me very happy.
Q: (On Brandon Meriweather's hit on Sunday)
TB: To tell you the truth, I didn't see the play and I still haven't seen the play. It's a dangerous game, it really is. I think we all signed up for this game knowing that it's dangerous. I know Rodney Harrison did too. I heard some of his comments about the style of play and you're right, nobody wants to see anybody get hurt. That's not why we play the game. But we also know the physical nature of this sport is that people do get hurt. We've all been hurt. Everybody in this locker room has been hurt. I've had four or five surgeries. It's just part of what you're signing up for.
Q: Does the nature of Meriweather's hit and subsequent fine project badly on the franchise?
TB: I know Brandon. You get trained as a player and everyone's just trying to go out there and make the play. Sometimes I guess guys cross the line. Sometimes guys are trying to do it within the rules that are set for us. It's a very instinctive game out there. They're going to enforce the rules however they see fit. We show up one week and they say, 'Well, this is how the rules are now.' That's just the way it works for players and we learn to make adjustments with that. It's not the first time they've changed a rule here during the season. It's just what they do.
Q: You haven't seen the play yet?
TB: I haven't seen it. I haven't seen it.
Q: Nine years ago, you had your first 300-yard game against the Chargers. Do you remember that as a breakout performance for you?
TB: Yeah, that was a big game in that season. We went to overtime also. Terry [Glenn] had like seven catches for 119 yards. We ran an out and go to David Patten there and got a big pass interference call in overtime. Playing against [Doug] Flutie, that was pretty fun. That was a great game for us. I think we had just lost to Miami the week before, so we needed to come out and play well at home. That was pretty fun.
Q: How confident are you moving forward with the pieces you have on offense?
TB: We have guys in the locker room that can all make plays. Between Brandon [Tate] and Aaron [Hernandez], Wes [Welker] and Julian [Edelman], Deion [Branch] obviously and Rob Gronkowski... Alge [Crumpler]'s making plays. We're running the ball. It's the kind of offense where you really have to defend everybody because I'm going to try to pick the guy out that's most open and get him the ball. There's a lot of confidence that I have, the coaches have that all the guys that are in here are going to be able to do that. There's quite a bit of comfort as a quarterback knowing that somebody is going to be open on each play. We have to drop back and be able to find them. That's hopefully what I'll be able to do this week.
Q: With so much youth on this team, is there any fear of a letdown in San Diego this weekend?
TB: I hope not. I certainly hope not. I wouldn't expect us to not put everything we have into it. We know the challenge that it is. This team is 2-4, but they're 2-0 at home and that's where we're playing them. There has to be a huge commitment by the team this week to do everything that we need to do. The last few weeks, we've had extra time to prepare. There's really no opportunity for any lost time this week and also to travel out there to the West Coast, go to California. I never mind that.
Q: How would you assess the pass protection to this point in the season?
TB: They've been doing a great job, damn good. I think all those guys...we get a lot of tough looks and I think NFL football is very different these days with the amount of looks that you get and the hybrid players that can drop and rush. You look at a Jets scheme where nine guys with two safeties, excluding the two corners, all can rush. They do a great job of sorting things out. We're playing against some pretty good defenses - Baltimore, the Jets, Cincy's been good. Miami's good. We're playing some good guys. They battle all day and that's all you can ask of those guys. They're doing a great job.
Q: What about an assessment on the way you're playing?
TB: I'm looking to do better. That's my assessment. I'm trying to make more plays, make more reads, make better throws and get us in the end zone more. I think we've been inconsistent as an offense. We have to do a better job of getting the ball and fewer three-and-outs. That's something we're trying to do better at. All around, I just have to start making some better throws.