New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 25, 2009.
Q: So how many memories of the 2001 Super Bowl are you going to have when you walk into the Superdome?
TB: Yeah, that was the last time we were there. Mr. [Robert] Kraft came and talked to the team this morning about that and he talked about the special memories of that place. You're right, I mean, you never forget that day. That was pretty unbelievable for all of us. A lot of us ... You know, you're first chance to play in a Super Bowl and winning the Super Bowl, and of course the circumstances of that year with 9/11 happening ... And U2 performing at halftime - that was pretty unbelievable.
Q: There are only four of you remaining, right? The rest of these guys probably watched it, but they didn't take part in the experience.
TB: Yeah. That's the way it's been. We've had a lot of new guys come and go, but even though, they're part of the tradition now. When you wear that uniform you kind of take on everything that this team has been a part of, whether you were here or whether you weren't here. It's a great environment, a historic place to play, and I think we're all excited about getting down there.
Q: You mentioned Robert Kraft talked to the team today. Has that become an annual thing this week, and what was said?
TB: He's a very reflective person and he just wanted to convey a message to the team. He really respects what we do and guys last night [were] up at Morgan Memorial [Goodwill headquarters] giving away turkeys. It's a great organization and I think the way guys handle themselves in the community - Randy [Moss] went home and gave away a lot of food to a lot of people in his hometown. He [Kraft] just wanted to, I think, express his thanks to the guys.
Q: This is a very unfamiliar team to you guys. Can you talk about this team and going to an unfamiliar setting?
TB: Yeah, we haven't played them in a while since up here I think four years ago. They have a lot of new faces, a lot of new players we haven't played against. They only have two rookies on their team - Coach said this morning: the punter and one of their cornerbacks. So you're right. We have an extra day, which is always nice, especially with the Thanksgiving holiday here. It's about just understanding what they're doing, the strengths of their team. Obviously, they have a lot of them; you can't be 10-0 without having a lot of strengths. They're good in all phases. It's one of those teams where you just can't fall asleep for one play, because on special teams they return kickoffs and punt returns, and on offense they've got all these guys that can score, and on defense I think they lead the league in turnovers, like 29 turnovers - almost three a game. You've just got to go in there, and think that we can't turn the ball over and give them easy points because they're going to capitalize on them. It's a tough task for a lot of reasons, but we're going to go down there, have a great week of preparation, and see what we can do.
Q: You guys had a special season two years ago and were able to make it through the season undefeated. Somewhere deep in the planning process for this game, do you say to yourself, 'You know, this team has a chance to do what we did a couple years ago and we want to protect what we did'?
TB: Not as much. I think from their standpoint, they obviously have a lot of confidence in what they're doing. Any time you take the field, I remember what kind of confidence we had taking the field as an undefeated team and knowing that if we played a good game it was going to be almost impossible for teams to beat us. But if you don't play well you do get beat, as evidenced by what happened in the Super Bowl that year. We go down there with our own feelings as well. Even though we're 7-3, we have a pretty confident team, too. We've played a lot of good football this year at times, and obviously it hasn't been all perfect, but aside from a few bad halves of football, it's been pretty solid. [We've] got to keep building on the consistency of the team. There have just been little lapses over the course of games - like last week before the half and into the third quarter - that we have to eliminate, especially when you play a team like this. They're confident. We're confident. They're one of the best teams in the league. We see ourselves as a team that can beat anybody we play. Then again, we've got to go out and do it. It's much easier said than done against this team.
Q: Working with Julian Edelman and Isaiah Stanback, how much does their experience as college quarterbacks help you when it comes to communicating with them and telling them where they need to be in a certain situation?
TB: Not much with those two. They were in a very different college offense, even though they were quarterbacks. They were more like running backs; they both ran the ball a lot and they were great at that, as evidenced by what they can do with the ball in their hands. They're both really explosive players. They're smart guys. There's no doubt about it. Any rookie coming in to try and learn this offense has quite a challenge because I wouldn't say it's one of the easier offenses in the league to try to really grasp. They know what they're doing and I'm confident in what they're doing, and that's why they get the ball.
Q: You're 163 yards away from passing Drew Bledsoe as the franchise's all-time leading passer. You know what Drew meant to this franchise and what type of player he was, so I'm just curious what your thoughts are on potentially reaching that milestone.
TB: Well, I didn't know that until you told [me]. When I got here, Drew was a great player and he's always been a great friend of mine. I have a lot of respect for him and he was one of the guys that taught me how to play this game. I talked to John Friesz, who was another quarterback my rookie year, and I talked to Damon Huard, obviously Matt [Cassel] and Rohan [Davey] and Jim Miller - I listen to him on SIRIUS Radio. All of these guys really have helped me become a better quarterback, and I'm fortunate to play with all these great guys. You don't meet too many quarterbacks who aren't just good, cool guys to hang with, and we've had a lot of them here.
Q: Do you keep in touch with Drew Bledsoe at all?
TB: Yeah. We e-mail. We talk from time to time. We've always had a great relationship. He's worked extremely hard over the course of his career and I think he's really enjoying what he's doing now.
Q: Don't forget Michael Bishop.
TB: And Michael, too. I did. I hear a lot about Michael. Kevin [Faulk] keeps in touch with Michael.
Q: Have you been able to pin down the reason why in the three losses, you guys have been outscored 47-10 in the second half? It's a pretty alarming trend
TB: Yeah, I think playing 60 minutes of football. I mean, I think that's what every team's looking to do in the league: to play consistently over the course of every play, every series, every punt, every kickoff, every offensive series, four-minute, two-minute, the situations. You have to be sharp. You have to be on it. The momentum changes can happen very quickly and once you lose the momentum it's like playing a different team when you go back out there for the next series. It's important when you have a team that's reeling, that you keep piling it on so they don't ever have an opportunity to come back, like we did against Tennessee. We just kept scoring and scoring. By that time, OK, the game's over, but we just had some games this year where we haven't done that and the team has gotten back into the game and then we're the ones that are trying to claw back at the end. Believe me, it's something that we're all focusing on and something that's brought to our attention on a daily basis by our coach, so we're going to try to please him aside from pleasing ourselves.
Q: When you guys set all of those records in 2007, did you think they would last forever or at least for an extended period of time?
TB: I've seen a lot of great offenses since I've been in the league, like the Rams and the Colts. We were one of them. The Saints are obviously one of them this year. But there's always going to be another great offense. There're always going to be great receivers and quarterbacks that finally come together under a coach that's been with them for a few years that really understands the strengths and weaknesses. The schedule aligns right and the scores of the games come out a certain way, so they're always going to be broken. There're not too many records - except for maybe Cal Ripken's in baseball - that won't be broken. Every other one you can pretty much assume [will be broken] - or Brett Favre's, for that matter.
Q: I'm assuming you've seen Drew Brees just by watching other games. As a fellow quarterback, what are your thoughts on him in terms of the way he plays the game and what he's doing down there in New Orleans?
TB: We've had some common opponents this year, so I've seen Drew play quite a bit. They played against the Dolphins. He's a great player. He always has been a great player. I played against him in college quite a bit at Purdue, too. He went to San Diego and had a very successful career there, and then the Saints were lucky enough to get him. He really loves the game, throws a great ball, is really good mechanically, has good footwork, is a great worker from what I understand. [There] is a guy that is at the Saints now that says such great things about Drew, and I've been around Drew on certain occasions and always enjoy that. He's a good guy and a great player. He's leading that team and scoring a lot of points, so hopefully we can slow him down.
Q: One way to slow him down is to hold onto the ball. How do you balance that with taking your shots when you get them?
TB: That's important. Usually the best defense for a great offense is our offense keeping possession of it. They get the ball on long fields, short fields and score quickly. They've been down against Miami - I don't know if it was 24-3 or something like that - and they were running the clock out with eight minutes left in the third quarter. So it's a dangerous team and offensively we're going to have to posses the ball and be good on third down, certainly get the ball in in the red area, which is something that was a little better last week. That's something that we've got to try to do more consistently. That's going to be a big challenge for our offense.
Q: What do you attribute those bad halves of football to? And coming out, you mentioned you have to keep scoring - what does Bill Belichick tell you about adjusting to what the other team is doing and being able to keep scoring?
TB: Well, football is a four-quarter game and you can't relax for any portion. I'm not saying we relaxed, I'm just saying our execution over the course of those four quarters wasn't what it needed to be. And it's been good at times and it kind of ebbs and flows with us. For one reason or another, we haven't been able to put together 60 great minutes, unless it was against Tennessee. We're going to need to do that this week. It's something that we're always building toward. Obviously we haven't perfected that yet, but hopefully we make those improvements this week.
Q: Why is it that Bill Belichick puts so much emphasis on games after Thanksgiving?
TB: We've played 10 games at this point, so it's always good at this part of the year for a quarterback and a head coach where you can evaluate a team based on 10 games and over 500 or 600 plays. And you can evaluate their players and their scheme and their coaching and what makes their team go and how to eliminate some of their strengths saying, 'this is something that they get consistently beat on.' We're a very game plan oriented team. It's not like we go in every week and run the same 30 core plays. We pick and choose from everything we see - new stuff, old stuff, just based on ways you feel you need to attack them. This team has a lot of strengths. It's not like you're going to go in there and bury your head against them; you've got to come out with some aggressiveness. You've got to come out ready to try to score some points, because you know they're going to score.