New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, August 25, 2009.
Q: Are you looking forward to the Wembley game?
TB: Yeah. I think not only I am, I think our team is. The NFL has grown in a lot of places over the years and to have the opportunity … We were going to go to China, I think two years ago, but that didn't work out. To be able to expand the game into other countries and over in England, it's gotten a lot of support over the years, over the last two seasons. All of the players are excited. I'm certainly excited. It comes at a good time of the year for us to be able to make the trip over there. I like the fact that it's an away game for us and a home game for Tampa. It will be a great game.
Q: The biggest star in England is David Beckham and he has a lifestyle similar to yours. Do you see any similarities?
TB: Well, not quite the same lifestyle. Yeah, he's a great player and I've had the chance, since he's been part of the MLS, to watch him on occasion. He's a great player. He's brought a lot of excitement to soccer in the United States so hopefully the Patriots have the same effect over there in England.
Q: You've got a lot of new receivers this year, a good mix of veterans and rookies. How has their progress been in your eyes as far as picking up the offense and working on their timing with you?
TB: That's a great question. It's something that is a challenge each year because you always want to try to pick up where you left off. The reality is you never do because you add so many different elements to the team: coaches, players, different plays, strategies. This year is certainly no different. We've made quite a bit of changes personnel-wise and we're trying to get up to speed. So I think in some ways you regress a little bit in order to build a foundation, which we tried to do through camp. Now, we're more into the game plan mode of sorting out what we're trying to do each week with the different opponents and try to get our guys in the best position. The learning now takes a different phase. You're not really in the training camp, minicamp learning phase of: 'OK, this is the base offense.' Now, you're more into strategy and hopefully we built a strong enough foundation to be able to make changes throughout the year and grow as a team, while incorporating those new guys into what we're doing. It's been a good camp for us, [but] it still means we still have got, obviously, plenty of work to do. In order for us to be ready for that opener - we don't have too long so this game against Washington will be a big step for us.
Q: Is the group where you expected them to be at this point?
TB: It's hard to say because I don't … everybody's different. Every team is different. Every year is different. I think it's unfair to put the expectations of previous teams on this team. This team is going to learn at its own pace and I think our identity is going to be established in its own way based on what we end up being good at. The guys have been working hard, I know that. We've got some really veteran football players that we've added who are working hard and they understand the commitment it's going to take. Like most every other team, there are plenty of good things, but plenty of bad things and we've got to try to eliminate those bad things before we take the field for the opener.
Q: Looking back over your career, have you changed at all as a quarterback?
TB: Well, I hope I've improved for the better. I've come a long way in 10 years and I've got a great understanding of our offense and the players and what coach Belichick expects. In that sense, hopefully, I provide some leadership to the younger players. I know when I was a young player, I relied on the older players, whether it was Drew [Bledsoe] when I was there, Damon Huard or John Friesz, at my position. I try to do the same thing for those other guys. You take on a different role every year, based on how long you've been here. Those guys in their second year, like [Jerod] Mayo, who plays a very strong leadership role in this defense because not only is he a great player, but he's out there every play. It's important to establish that kind of leadership within the group.
Q: What do you see as Josh McDaniels' potential going forward and how do you look back on your time with him?
TB: Josh [McDaniels] and I are still great friends. We communicate and text each other every once in a while. I told him I liked his hoodie he was wearing. He said it was in honor of where he came from. He had been a great coach here and he moved on for a great opportunity with a great organization. Like most guys, when you learn under the best coach probably in the history of the NFL, you're taking a lot of knowledge with you and he has a great kind of base where he's coming from. I have no doubt he's going to be a great coach - except for the game he plays us this year [when] I don't care.
Q: Where do you feel your game is this year versus last year?
TB: Every year is different. This year, I've been fortunate enough to participate in all of our practices, all of our walkthroughs, all the meetings, all the games thus far. Last year, it wasn't like that. I think I've made some improvements over the course of the camps, not only this camp, but the previous camps. I think there's just … I said yesterday I don't think we're at midseason form yet. I'd love to be perfect out there right now. It hasn't been that way. I missed a few throws in this last game and made a few mental errors. Hopefully, we try to make some of those improvements and understand that it's different when you're out there practicing against your own team day after day, after day. You kind of get into a tempo. I think once you get into those games, it's a different tempo. The more games we can play in the better, as far as I'm concerned for me and my teammates so that you can understand where you're at. That's the best. That's the reason for the preseason games. You really get a measure of where you're at as a team because you're competing against another team and you want to see how you stack up, how well you've been practicing, because there's not a lot of evidence there on the practice field. You've got to put it to use. Like I said, I think this week will be a really important step for us. We'll really get a good idea of where we're at as a team after this game.
Q: Why have you been under center less this year than in the past? Is that anything to do with your own comfort level?
TB: I don't know. I haven't put a lot of thought into that. In '07 when I was out there, we were in the shotgun quite a bit. I mean, I love being back there. You can see the field better, as far as I'm concerned. It's just easier to evaluate coverages and - if you need to make changes - you don't need to waste time getting back into the drop; you're already back there. It's something that's important to be under center quite a bit, too, to run the ball and the threat of the run, and the play-action pass. So we'll mix it up. I don't think it has anything to do with me not being comfortable under center. It's just more kind of what we're trying to do as a scheme.
Q: How do preparations for Week Three of the preseason differ from Week One and Week Two of the preseason?
TB: We know we're going to play quite a bit. I think that's traditionally what we've always done. I think that's we're all expecting to do. It's really a great … When you're out there in the third preseason game, you're through those early phases of training camp where you made a lot of those mistakes. Now, you're hopefully starting to really get ready for the opener. We're not in a two-a-day schedule anymore so you actually have time to watch film on the opponent you're playing. It's very much like a normal week for us here, in terms of the schedule and film study. I think that's how Coach Belichick wanted to approach it this week. He wants to put together a good week and see how we go out and perform.
Q: Both you and Coach Belichick have been very quick to explain the circumstances of that sack the other night and take the blame off the offensive line. Do you feel like because there is a heightened importance of keeping you safe, you guys are more sensitive to criticism of the offensive line?
TB: I think that's really important in football. I think it's very challenging to evaluate a game from when I do it myself, from not really understanding what the offense is trying to do. There's so much communication that goes on during every play, not only between the quarterback and the line, or the quarterback and the receiver, but between the linemen themselves, or the linemen and the running backs. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Offensive football is about anticipations; it's about everyone understating what their role is within the group of 11 in order to go out there and play full speed. When you do it well, it looks great. When you don't do it well, it looks really bad. There're times when you have poor communication and sometimes you don't notice it because the ball doesn't go that way. I think in a situation like the other night, you really do notice it. Within our team, we know what happens. Those are the corrections you've got to make.
Q: How do you feel like your protection is looking so far?
TB: We have a great offensive line. It's a very veteran offensive line that's been together for a while. [Dan] Koppen leads that group, stands in the middle of those two guys on each side. It's a very athletic group that works hard, that's very well-coached. Dante [Scarnecchia] is one of the best offensive coaches in the league so they always provide great protection. They're a smart group, tough group. They're always out there so I look forward to being back behind them.
Q: After your injury, was it a relief to get hit for the first time last week?
TB: I said that, yeah. It's good when you're a quarterback to get hit. Sometimes it just knocks … Before the game, you always have this anxiousness, nervousness about the game. Then, once you take a hit, usually, it goes away. Hopefully, [it is] not under those circumstances where I'm making poor calls or anything like that, but part of playing quarterback is taking those hits and getting up. That's part of that position. You don't get handed the ball like a running back or thrown to like a receiver so you've just got to hold it and when they get you, they get you. Hopefully, there's not too many of those this year. We're trying, working hard so that doesn't become an issue. But ones that we can prevent - like the other night - I'd certainly like to prevent those.
Q: Do you think you're asking to get hit from here on out?
TB: I don't know if I was asking after that. I was just saying it would be kind of nice to [get hit]. I wouldn't take that too literally.
Q: You've been analyzed by the media a lot of coming back from the injury. Is your self-analysis similar?
TB: I've been dealing with this for a long time, almost for the last year. I know where I'm at. I know how I feel, how comfortable I am back there and I try to convey that I feel like that was part of last season. This season has been a different year for me. I've already missed a year. I've already paid the price for it. Moving forward, you've just got to try to work as hard as you can to get back to your normal self and I really feel like I am. Hopefully, I can contribute in the way I have in the past. I don't think about it. I don't lose sleep over it. I just get up and try to go out there and make the right plays, make the right decisions. I think if I make a poor play, I never have thought, 'Well, I wonder if it was because of my injury last year.' I think, 'Well, I've got to make improvements.' Just like every year where things don't really go your way.
Q: Does it bother you that people suggest 'Oh, he's doing that because of the knee injury'?
TB: No, there's not much that bothers me these days. I've got pretty thick skin. It's just part of being in this position and I totally understand why it would be an issue. But for me, it's really not. It's something that has happened and I moved forward and I'm looking forward to this year and being back out on the field and being with my buddies out there.
Q: How do you see big contracts like Eli Manning's affecting you in the future?
TB: I think it's great. It's great for those players. They've worked hard to deserve those. Any time a guy gets a contract, it's a pretty cool thing. I've had that experience a couple times. It really shows the health of the league. It shows that the league has grown in places like London, into Mexico, up in Canada. There's a lot of coverage and people enjoy watching the games so I'm happy to be a part of it. The league's expanding and growing and hopefully I'll be able to participate for as long as somebody else wants me. Those contract things always work themselves out one way or another. So I think the important part this time of year is to focus on the most important priority, which is having a great season. I'm committed to that and I know my teammates are committed to that. Hopefully, if we all go out and play well, we'll all be playing for a long time.
Q: Obviously, as a veteran you've seen a lot, but after missing a year, how fast are you seeing the game now?
TB: Well, it feels pretty normal. It really does. It feels - you know how you say - like riding a bike. I've played football a long time. I've started a lot of games. I've played. You don't all of a sudden forget how to play the game. Brett Favre just came out of retirement and he starts three days later. It's just you've been doing it a long time, you understand what it takes, you understand the reads. Now, there're a lot of things you need to improve on because it's a very challenging sport, not only quarterback but every position. And getting your timing at quarterback - there's timing as an offensive lineman or S-lineman - everyone is trying to understand the different speeds that you're playing and the different opponents that you play. So we're working through those things. I'm working through them. My teammates are working through them, all in hopes that we're better prepared for our game in a couple weeks.
Q: On the contract issue, if they were to come to you to discuss a contract, would you really say 'No, let's talk about it after the season. I want to focus on football now'?
TB: If someone wants to pay you more money? I mean, I think we're all probably underpaid, don't you think? I mean, we all wish we were paid more, but that's not the reality. We're focused on this. I'm focused on this year. I've thought about it and I just want to go out and have a great year. Believe me, nothing is guaranteed; that's what I learned last year. You don't know if you'll be out here next week or the following week so I think the most important thing is to focus on this week and the more prepared you are for this week, the less chance you'll have to play poorly or to have an injury. If we have goals to have a great season, we're going to need to be on the field playing and getting better.