New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 7, 2008.
Q: Are you glad it's Jacksonville?
TB: Am I glad it's Jacksonville? They're a very good team. I said earlier today the teams that are in this position are the best teams in the league. There's no doubt about it. There is a reason why Jacksonville's playing this week and I think they do a lot of things very well, offensively, defensively and special teams. They play well. They match up well against everybody because they're big and physical, but they have speed. They play their scheme very well and they're very smart. It's going to be a great match-up. I think everybody's excited to play -- I know I am. [I'm] glad we're playing at home and hopefully it's Foxboro-type weather. We're preparing hard. I think we got off to a really good start today and I hope we're able to put our best out there.
Q: In your younger days as an NFL quarterback did you ever envision yourself being an MVP - coming within one vote of being a unanimous MVP?
TB: We set out a bunch of goals early in the season and I think I said the best part about playing quarterback here is I just have to do my job, show up every day and work hard just like everybody else. I think my job description is just a bit different than everybody else's, but there's a lot of satisfaction [in] knowing that I can just come out there and worry about myself and expect that everybody else is going to do their job. We've really - It's been a fun season. There's no doubt about it. Every week we come in here on Monday and you win and everybody's excited, the plane flights home are great. It's been a lot of fun. To see what we've accomplished thus far is great. At the same time we realize that, as coach put it, there's another mountain to climb. We've climbed the mountain thus far, but we're right back at the bottom with everybody else. We're in the same position as Jacksonville, which is in the same position as Indy, which is in the same position as San Diego. We've got our biggest test ahead of us and it's going to be very challenging, but I know this team is ready for it.
Q: What are your thoughts on winning the MVP?
TB: Like I said, we have a bunch of goals every year and I think myself, as a player, I'm just hoping to be the best quarterback that I can be for this team. I'm glad that's led up to 16 wins. Individual awards haven't been as important to me as the team goals and I've said that for a long time. While I'm very flattered to be honored in that way, I understand that my greatest satisfaction comes from winning games and being the leader of this football team. I take that job very seriously and I hope that translates into a win this week.
Q: You said hopefully it's Foxboro-type weather. Does that mean you don't worry about how the wind and the cold might affect the passing game that you guys have?
TB: Quarterbacks always worry about the wind and the rain. If you didn't you wouldn't be playing quarterback. The kicker and I joke, it's like we're the only two people that care, and offensive coordinators, because weather does play a factor and it's played a factor in a bunch of playoff games so hopefully we'll be prepared for whatever the weather might be. We've been outside in some windy days, some wet days, some snowy days and I think we're conditioned for it. I'm sure it'll be cold -- It's a Saturday night in January.
Q: How much do you respect what Jacksonville has been able to do going into Pittsburgh twice, winning in bad weather? Just how much do you mind their toughness?
TB: That's the strength of their team. They're very tough, physically, mentally [and] they're coached extremely well. Their scheme is a very disciplined scheme and I think they have players that fit that scheme. [They have a] big physical defensive line, with powerful linebackers with cornerbacks and safeties that all make plays and can all hit. It's really centered around the fact that they are a physical team. They play in a very physical division, very similar to the Steelers. Those games came down to the end, the ones they played against the Steelers, and they found a way to win. [You] can understand that they play well under pressure as well.
Q: You got 49 out of 50 first place votes for MVP. What do you think you need to do to get that last guy to vote for you?
TB: Oh man. Like I said it's - I've always just tried to go out there and do the best that I can do. I hope that's good enough this week. They said that on the radio this morning too. The MVP and all that, it's wonderful and I'm sure one day I'll look back on that and be very proud of the fact that's something you accomplished, but it doesn't mean anything this week.
Q: What kind of carry over is there, if any, from the last two times you've played them?
TB: Well I know how good they are. I know the kind of team they are and like said they're disciplined, they're powerful and they hit hard. I remember last year I got knocked out the game for a play. [Matt] Cassel and I were joking about it this morning and on the film it's funny, I run and I dive and I get hit. Next thing you see it Matt's right on the sideline and he's buckling his chinstrap up. He knew right way that he was coming in. I think the play got - I think there was a penalty on the play so he did get credited for a play but I'm hoping to not get knocked out of the game this weekend. Knock on wood.
Q: How important are the games that you've had to come back and persevere, how important do you think those are going forward?
TB: Those are always important. We've been tested on the road, we've been tested at home we've been tested in poor weather [and] we've had to overcome deficits late in the games. We've needed to put together critical drives in those games so hopefully we've learned from those, hopefully we can deal with some of the pressure. We know there's going to be quite a bit of pressure this weekend. There's pressure on us every week but it's different in the playoffs because you realize you're getting dressed - you're going to bed Saturday night realizing that Sunday night, that could be it. You could be, you know, planning your vacations. That's not a very good feeling, we've experienced that the last few years and those are games you remember, that sit with you for a long time. Hopefully we're ready to persevere.
Q: Dating back to 2001 and Kurt Warner, I think, none of the guys that won the MVP award have gone on to win a Super Bowl and you played a role in kind of derailing a couple of those. Do you see a Tom Brady out there who could knock you off in this circumstance?
TB: I see - I think the thing and I said earlier today, there is anxiety before every game. You're nervous, you're anxious and you're playing against the best opponents in the league and you just don't know what the outcome is going to be, you really don't. Part of what has made this season so fun and so successful is that we've gone into each week and there is never a guarantee. You see great teams all over the league losing and we [say], how did that happen? Fortunately that didn't happen for us this year during the regular season. I sure as [heck] hope it doesn't happen the next month. Anytime a team has done what we've done in the regular season I think that's definitely a motivating factor for other teams to come in here and say 'let's be the team to beat them.' We've played undefeated teams this year and that's been a thrill for us. Whether it [is] Dallas or whether [it's] Indy, when we played those teams, or the Jets to start the season -- I guess it's always fun beating the Jets. It's a thrill for us and for those teams and I know we're excited for the challenge too. To see what we've learned throughout the course of the season and hopefully we can go out there and, like I said, use what we've learned and, like I've said, use that to our advantage [and] try to play better than we have at points in the last eight weeks.
Q: Do you do anything different to prepare for a physical team than more of a finesse team?
TB: You just have to understand - you have to understand the strengths of their team and you try not to play into them. There's things they do particularly well and you try not to just line up and do those things, because you realize, God a lot of other teams have tried it but haven't been very successful at it. I feel, as a team, we've always done a pretty good job of trying to figure out what those things are and we're kind of chameleon-like in that we find ways to do things that we're good at while disguising it as well. I hope that's what we do this week. We'll put together a game plan and I'm sure we'll have a lot of confidence in the game plan, they'll do the same thing and they'll change things up quite a bit, understanding what they do well. We'll try to feel it out throughout the first half and I'm sure there'll be adjustments that are made but they're a very good team. They do a lot of things very well so it's not like you can go out and try to avoid everything. You just have to go out and try to execute very well.
Q: Have you been able to watch their offense and what has impressed you about [David] Garrard?
TB: I haven't had a chance to watch much of there offense. I know the kind of year he's had and he's done a great job in his first year as a starter. It's very impressive. It seems like he's a great leader and the players really rally around him. That's the mark of any good player and I know they can really run the ball they've got Maurice Jones-Drew, who's a California kid, and Fred Taylor, who's a great player too. They do a lot of things well, like I said. Offensively they can really control the ball, run the ball and make plays when they need it and that was evidence by what you saw against Pittsburgh Saturday night.
Q: Can you explain Jabar Gaffney's increase in stats over the second half of the season?
TB: He's had a great role on this team since he got here in the bye week last season. He was a starter by the end of the year, played really well in the playoffs. [He] came here earlier in the season [and] fought for a job. He can really do a lot of things. His position versatility is extremely important to us. He can play in the slot, he can play outside, he can do a lot of things very well. He can - He's quick, he's fast, he's got good hands, he's big enough to go against small defensive backs and he's quick enough to go against big defensive backs. He's a very smart player and I think he provides a lot of flexibility within our scheme to put him in positions where we find we can get mismatches.
Q: Why has Wes Welker been so important to this offense?
TB: He's like 5'6" so I guess it's easy to miss him out there. He can hide in the grass out there. He's been a great player since he got into the league. I remember watching him on film last year for Miami [and] realizing what a talent he was and when I heard we were getting him I knew he'd be a perfect fit. It doesn't surprise me at all that he's tied for the league lead in receptions as basically a slot receiver. 112 is an impressive total and he does a lot of things well. He's very quick, he catches the ball well and like you see he turns these really short passes into medium type gains. There's four- or five-yard completions that turn into 12 or 15 yards -- Those are really hidden stats. It's not like you need to throw a 15-yard in-route to gain 15 yards to Wes. You can get him the ball underneath and he can make guys miss. He's been doing that all season. He's fun to have out there, brings a lot of energy and he'll be a critical factor in the game, I'm sure.