Q: How much do you welcome the challenge of going into Buffalo to face a Rex Ryan team?
TB:Yeah, it's a great challenge. It's always a tough place to play. They have a lot of energy and enthusiasm at that stadium, and for an old stadium it's pretty loud, especially when they get going. So I'm sure Coach Ryan will have them ready to go. He's a great coach. They're playing really well, certainly on defense. They've got one of the best defenses in the league – a lot of top guys at a lot of positions – and we're going to have to play really well.
Q: Are you seeing a typical Rex Ryan defense after one game, or is it different because of the personnel he has?
TB:It's only been one game, so it's tough to evaluate the whole package. They've had four preseason games. I think they showed some different things in the first game than they did in the previous preseason games, so I'm sure they'll have some wrinkles for us. He always does. I don't think we always quite know how they're going to scheme us up, but that's the challenge. They have good players, a good scheme. This is a team that usually plays pretty well at home, so we'll have to, like I said, have a great game.
Q: How much of the game plan against a team like the Bills is using their aggressiveness against them?
TB:Yeah, I think it's good to have some different ways to offset kind of the energy and enthusiasm. They're a really aggressive team. They've got aggressive guys at safety. They've got some aggressive linebackers. I think a lot of it is just … It always comes down to execution. I know we talk about a lot of different ways to get the job done – run, pass, screen, draw, deep throw, short throw, quick throw – but ultimately, it comes down to how well you run with the ball, how good of decisions you make out there as an offensive lineman, our communication. And those are all things we work on in practice, so we go out there and try to practice all the things that are going to make a true impact on the game, which is how well we throw and catch, which is how well we execute our blocks, how well we execute situational football, how we react under pressure. So I think that's the important thing. That's what Coach [Belichick] has been stressing for a long time, since OTAs – our fundamentals, our blocking, tackling and all the different things that we need to do to help us win the game, ultimately.
Q: Are the events that transpired this offseason any extra motivation to go out there and prove something?
TB:I just think the motivation is to win. I think it's been like that for a long time here, so we just enjoy winning just because it's more fun to win than lose.
Q: Do you like to prove how you win is clean and right?
TB:I think that we've always tried to do things the right way, so we're going to go out there and do the best we can do like we do every week.
Q: In practice, is there any way you can duplicate the energy and enthusiasm with which the Bills are going to come after you this weekend?
TB:Yeah, you can try. Unless you've been there, you really don't quite know how it's going to be. I think you expect the worst and you expect the loudest, and I think that's what we practice when we're out there. I mean, you really can't hear anything when Coach [Belichick] turns those speakers up. He tries to make it harder for us in practice than it is in the game, and not being able to really hear anything just requires a lot of non-verbal communication and everyone being on the same page – knowing your calls, knowing your assignments, being able to know the things that we're doing really well so you can go out and play confidently and aggressively – because if you don't play that way, then you get really defensive as an offense. I think the Colts, they got pushed around, and when you get pushed around by a team like this, they really feed off of that.
Q: How is it going to be having LeGarrette Blount back in the backfield? How much does he help your running game and offense?
TB:A lot. He's been our starting running back, so it's great to have him back out there. And hopefully, he'll provide a big presence out there. He runs hard, he's smart, he's got great vision, and he's going to have to play a big role in the game.
Q: How amused are you, if at all, with some of Rex Ryan's comments regarding the time you went to a Broadway play during their playoff game? He said Peyton Manning would've been watching their game if it was him.
TB:Not amused at all. It doesn't matter to me. The games are won by what you do over the course of the week and how you go about your preparation, so that you can be prepared for the game on Sunday. He's a great coach. He's obviously got them confident. They're ready to go – sounds like they're already ready to go. It's already Wednesday, so we need some time to prepare for them. There is a lot to prepare for. It's a good scheme. We've got to kind of put everything into it and see if we can go out there and quiet them down.
Q: Is he the toughest defensive-minded coach that you've ever faced?
TB:Yeah, we've had quite a history with those defenses. I think he tries to play to the strength of the players, and I think he gives those guys a great chance every week, and that's all you can ask of as a coach is to put your guys in the best position they can to take advantage of opportunities, make the plays and not put them in positions where they can't do the things that the coaches are really asking them to do. I think that's probably our philosophy on offense, too. I think we try to put our guys in the best position possible. They develop a style and rhythm, and you try to keep teams off balance by scheme stuff and how you run certain plays and you complement one play with the next, and I think that's how he plays defense. He complements one scheme with another. It makes it hard to exactly dial up what you're looking at, and that makes it a little tougher for an offense to execute really at a high level.
Q: How do you prepare this young offensive line for Rex's tough front seven?
TB:It's challenging, and we've been preparing. We've done blitz pickup probably more than any other team in football since the spring started, especially with some young players in there up front, so just to have a lot of work that we've kind of put in the bank and know that you've got to trust the guys next to you that when you make a call, you know, we're going against probably the best D-line in football. These guys are phenomenal all the way across the board, so it puts a lot of pressure on the offense to communicate well, trust each other, and then when that breaks down I throw it as quick as I can. I don't want to be the one holding the ball all day and see if they can get home because you know they can.
Q: How much do you enjoy the challenge of going into hostile opponent's stadium?
TB:It's part of pro football. You get eight at home and eight on the road, and to be a good team, you've got to win on the road and you've got to beat division opponents on the road. Every time we go to an opposing stadium, we know that there's no one cheering for us, and that's just part of it. I think you've got to use the energy to heighten you're level of attention, focus, discipline and then go out there and try to execute really well. But it's great. It's a great feeling when you shut everyone up by the fourth quarter and half of the stadium is cleared out, too, so I think that's part of the motivation is to make good plays and quiet them down, take control of the game and then win on the road. It's a very satisfying feeling, so that's what we're going to try and accomplish.
Q: You still have the Trump hat. Have you talked to Donald Trump, and do you have any advice for his debate tonight?
TB:No. I just thought it was a nice keepsake. It was a nice piece of memorabilia he sent me.
Q: Do you think he has what it takes to win?
TB:I hope so. That would be great. There would be a putting green on the White House lawn. I'm sure of that.
Q: Does this seem like more of a normal week for you than last week?
TB:Yes, it's been nice. All football – it's been great.
Q: When you have to face unknown schematic changes, how important is it that your receivers give you information that you can rely on? How important is it to know they're going to fight at the top of the route?
TB:When you're a quarterback, you have one ball and you have five eligible receivers. So, a lot of times, you end up, you hold the fate of the entire region when I'm holding that football. If I fumble it, if I throw it to the other team, it's a lot of responsibility, so I try to let them know that, if I'm going to throw it to them, I better trust them. And when I expect them to turn out so I can anticipate it and the ball can be in the air when he starts to turn, that will give him time to catch it and protect himself before he gets hit. So, there are a lot of things that we talk about every day about how to gain each other's trust. You only really gain that trust in practice when, over and over they do the right thing over and over. You're looking at this depth, and I'm going to throw it here, and you turn out, this is where you've got to expect it. That's part of what we practice every day. That's all the walk-throughs, all the practice, so that when you get out on the field you can play with all that anticipation. And then it really looks like we know what we're doing. It looks like in all the meetings we're actually getting something done, and you try to build that in the offseason. When you get to the opening week, hopefully you're at a point where there's some margin of error out there, but you're really trying to build that trust the entire season. And ultimately, as the season goes along, your plan gets smaller and smaller based on the things that you're doing well, the more trust that you have in your line and your protections and the tight ends, what they're capable of doing, and the receivers. And hopefully, as the season goes on and on, you get more confident in what you're doing because every year you start at the same place everybody else does – right at the bottom – and you try to build your team and build a foundation, the fundamentals. And you try, through the hundred practices that we have, get to a point where, by the end of the year, you're really at a point where you're maximizing your potential. I'm wouldn't say we're there quite yet.
Q: What stands out to you about Rob Gronkowski?
TB:Well, there's a lot. I think he's an exceptional player, teammate. I think his mental toughness with what he's overcome the last few years to be back out there and be the kind of force that he is on the field is pretty remarkable. To overcome the back surgery, forearm surgeries, the infections and what he went through, to see him go through that first-hand, and then the knee injury and come back last season to put together the season he did, and then this offseason where he was ready to go the whole year, practiced almost every day at training camp, didn't get to play much in the preseason, but then came out there last week ready to go and make a huge impact on the game. So, he's just a great player – like I said, a great teammate. He's a guy that I have a lot of trust in, there's no doubt about that.