New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, December 16, 2009.
Q: How's week one with the new baby?
TB: It's good. It's good. I'm glad it's over. Trying to get back to my normal sleep schedule, which I'm sure, for all of us parents, is a little tough early, but it's coming ... getting used to this.
Q: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's been since 2001 with Matt Light that you've had a rookie play so many significant minutes at left tackle as Sebastian Vollmer has this year. Can you comment on his progress and development so far this year? Also, Bill Belichick said he has kind of a quirky personality. Can you talk about him as a person as well as a player?
TB: Sure. Well, yeah, he's 25 years old, so even though he's a rookie, he's got some maturity to him. He's a really smart player and he's just got such a presence about him. We were laughing yesterday [because] he's got this German accent with this Texas twang to it, so he sounds almost Australian. It's pretty fun to have conversations with him. And to think that he only played football for six years - [he] moved over here six years ago - and the kind of decision making it takes for a 20-year-old to leave your home country and come to the United States to play a sport that basically nobody in Germany plays is pretty remarkable. It's great to have him on the team. He has played some very valuable minutes for us. [He's] always well-prepared. He's a very tough guy, so we're looking forward to many more great years from him.
Q: So it sounds like it's not just his size, obviously, but that helps?
TB: Yeah, it's the whole package. It's one thing for all of us, you know ... Physically, you have to be able to do the job; there's nobody in that locker room that physically can't do it. So at that position you need to be strong and athletic, [have] good feet and vision and decision-making. And then along come a lot of the intangibles, like his toughness and his preparation and his work ethic. That's why he's able to play as a rookie.
Q: A lot is made about the center-quarterback relationship, but how much is there in the left tackle-quarterback position, especially for a right-handed quarterback?
TB: A quarterback is always close with the offensive linemen. They kind of look at me as probably the kid brother that they never want to get beat up. They're always trying to protect [me] because I can't really protect myself back there. They take a lot of pride in whether I get hit or not and how many times we get sacked. I have a great relationship with all those guys - certainly, Matt [Light] for as long as we've been together; and Logan [Mankins], going on his sixth season; and [Dan Koppen], he's one of my great friends; and Steve Neal, who I've been with since the time I got here; and Nick [Kaczur], who's done a great job. We have a great group there and they're all hard workers and they all put the team first, so I love that group. We obviously have a lot of fun together.
Q: Can you talk about Buffalo because it seems like they're playing their best football of the season right now?
TB: Buffalo's done a great job and they obviously have a lot of new changes; they changed their coach. Defensively, it's kind of the same scheme. There're definitely some new things and certain players have really - like Brian Scott has moved from starting safety to starting strong side linebacker. They've had some injuries there at linebacker, but it doesn't seem to affect them much because, like you said, they're playing some great football. They had a good win last week. You know, they're always tough on us. They always present some different challenges. [Aaron] Schobel - I mean, he's a great player for them. They put a lot of pressure on you with that front four. It's always a challenge when we play them up in Buffalo. I wasn't there last year, but I heard about the weather conditions that were pretty unbelievable - 70-, or 80-mile-per-hour winds. I don't know if that was true or not. That's what they're all telling me. But it's always pretty tough up there.
Q: What do you remember about opening night and the first three quarters and how tough it was to score against them?
TB: It was tough. I wouldn't say it was our best night. You've got to give those guys credit for going out there and stopping us as an offense. They stopped us on a critical fourth down. They had a turnover that resulted in a return for a touchdown for them. They put a lot of pressure on us. I don't think any of us felt really great about the way we played and kind of escaped with a victory. I'm sure Buffalo was very disappointed with the outcome of the game just because they had us there for a long time. Ultimately, we made enough plays there on the two-minute drives there. We had a couple of them. It was a battle. I'm sure it will be a battle this week.
Q: How do you learn from your offensive mistakes in that game when there have been so many changes since then in Buffalo?
TB: Well, a lot of the mistakes you've got to put behind you. There are mistakes that come up in every game-things you don't do well, or things you anticipated doing better, or ways plays you may have thought were going to work and they didn't working that way. That's what happens over the course of a game and hopefully by the fourth quarter you've made the adjustments, you've seen how they're going to attack you and what their style was that particular day. And then you're able to get to focus your game plan more on those things. I thought that was what we did a little bit that day and it was good enough. Like I said, it wasn't great, but hopefully we don't have as many mistakes this week.
Q: How important is it to play well and win on the road?
TB: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to be a good football team if you can't win on the road, and we haven't done a good job of that this year. We've had plenty of opportunities to win these games on the road, but we just haven't played our best football in the fourth quarter. I thought there were some better signs last week about that, and coach really put emphasis on that last week - about understanding what we need to do better in those situations. This week, we're expecting a 60-minute game, as we always do when we play Buffalo. You can't play poorly in the fourth quarter on the road and expect to win against a team that's obviously playing well.
Q: When you look at your division and the playoff race, how important is this win for you guys?
TB: Yeah, I mean, this is a big part of the season for us. [We] can't afford to lose this game and expect to make the playoffs, so we've got to play well. We've got a tough opponent - one that puts pressure on you in a bunch of different ways. Offensively, they really do some things that are going to challenge our defense. Coach always says the best teams are the ones that play best in December. You know, we didn't have a very good one there to start the month and [were] better last week. This week is certainly [the] most important.
Q: I know it's all about Buffalo, but as the decade comes to a close, could you just reflect briefly on how amazing the last 10 years have been for this team, as well as the Red Sox and Celtics?
TB: Sure. I think there're a lot of great cities in the country and Boston is - there's no better. We've had great success in all of our franchises - the championships by the Red Sox and seeing those parades has been fun for all of us players, and obviously us being able to experience those. We get a lot of support. We get a ton of support and a lot of people care about what we're doing. I think for us, that makes it a great honor to represent the city. I love being here, especially with the success that we've had. I'm sure I speak for all of the players when I say that.
Q: There was criticism after the game about Randy Moss, and obviously it's one thing when media members say it, but Jerry Rice and Cris Carter, two of the more respected receivers in the game, were critical of Randy as well. As great as they are, they're not in this locker room. What are they missing about Randy that you see every day working with him in practice?
TB: I mean, he's a great competitor. He works extremely hard. He's a huge part of this team, and they don't break down all the film, and see what we see and what the other team is trying to do game-plan wise. Randy is a great part of this team. He's a leader. He's a captain. He's a great teammate for all of us. You're not going to find anybody in that locker room that doesn't enjoy being around him. I love playing with the guy. He's made catch after catch this season, last season, the season before [that] really no other player in the league could make. I know everyone wants to criticize all of us when we don't do well or we don't play our best and we're OK with that. That's just part of the job description, so to speak. I think in our locker room, we're all trying to focus on what we need to do better and not necessarily what the other guys need to do better. I'm not focused on what those other guys [need to do]; I need to focus on what I need to do better. It's just part of our jobs and we can all handle it and fortunately for all of us, when you don't play your best game, whether it's me or Wes [Welker] or Randy or the offensive line, we get to go out there and play the next week, too. I think we take a lot of comfort in that.
Q: What is it about Randy's game that you mentioned that we don't see? How does he prepare for a game that makes him so valuable to this team?
TB: He's a very smart player. He recognized coverages. I think sometimes he knows when he probably won't get the ball and those are probably the ones they focus on on TV, which he probably won't, based on the coverage or based on that week of practice. I think that's a decision ... I don't think any of us go, 'OK, when you're triple covered, this is the one you've really got to...' I think sometimes the cameras focus on him at that time and go, 'Look, this is not really right,' but I'm sure you can go through a lot of players in the league and do that. And Randy's there - and believe me, I have so much confidence in him; that's why he keeps getting the ball. That's why we go to him in the most critical situations, because he's one of our very best players. Like I said, I've always enjoyed our relationship and we're all in this together and we all just keep fighting through whatever adversities we face, as individuals and as a team.