Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 29, 2010.
Q: What is it about the Miami Dolphins that has contributed to the poor record in Florida since 2001?
TB: Um, what is it about them? The Dolphins... Well, I don't think we've played particularly well [in Miami]. Certainly in the early part of my career, we got beat quite a bit down there. There was a long streak for a long time that we hadn't won down there. Then, we hit Troy [Brown] on the deep post, then we won a few [games]. But I think what it means is that there's not a lot of margin for error down there. So as an offense, I think we have to understand that they have a very good defense and they play well at home. So, you're right, it's a tough contest for us every time we go down there, every time we play those guys. In my experience here, whether it was home or away, we've always had some great battles with the Dolphins. I'm sure this week will be no different.
Q: Do you have more options to throw to this year compared to last year?
TB: It's only been three games, so I wouldn't...
Q: Now you've spread it around more than last year...
TB: Yeah, I think the tight ends have been more involved this year. We're running the ball like we did last week. I think that's been a big part of what we're trying to accomplish. So, we're just trying to be balanced. The best offenses are the ones that run it well and throw it well. You have different [running] backs that run it like Sammy [Morris] and Benny [BenJarvus Green-Ellis] and Fred [Taylor]. And you have different receivers that you throw to that all present different challenges to the defense. We have some guys underneath we throw it to, some guys intermediate we throw to, some guys deep that we throw to, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to spread it and make them defend everything. Because if it becomes one-dimensional and you start throwing to one or two guys, then that's not hard to defend.
Q: Is everyone OK with the ball distribution?
TB: Well, we're all trying to win out there. So as long as we're doing well, I think everybody's happy. When we're not doing well, everyone's trying to figure out what the issues are. I've never met a receiver that didn't say, "I was open." Then I watch the film and there's three guys on him. I've come to kind of expect that from the receivers...and they want the ball. They're going to tell me when they're open and when they're somewhat open. It's not very often that they're like, "Yeah, they really covered me on that one. You could've thrown it. It would've had to have been right here, but...' You know, fit it into a window about 'that big' from 50 yards down the field.
Q: Have defenses made different adjustments to Randy Moss and Wes Welker this year?
TB: Well, I would say that it's been three games. We're trying to spread the ball to different guys. And the guys who have opportunities to get it are getting it - more so than we're trying to throw the ball to one player. That's not what we're trying to do as an offense. So, I wouldn't really judge us by that.
Q: If you continue to incorporate the tight ends, isn't that going to open things up for everyone else?
TB: It certainly can. If you double cover [Wes] Welker and [Randy] Moss all day, then that means everyone else is going to be singled. So, you really have to choose what you want to do as a defense. There are certain coverages you can play that cover more of the outside receivers. There are certain coverages you can play that cover more of the inside receivers. It's really my job to figure out where the strengths of the coverages are and where I need to get the ball to. It's hard to get open when there's two guys on you. Some guys can do it, but the majority of the time, you're not really saying, "OK, well, I'm going to fire the ball in there to him.' It's not a team meeting or anything like that. You're just trying to get the ball to who is most open.
Q: Do we put too much of an emphasis on Moss' numbers when talking about his contribution to the offense?
TB: Sure, like I said, if you want one guy to catch all the balls, you can do that. You just put him in a position on every play to catch the ball. Then everyone else will say, "Everyone else stinks except this one guy.' We're trying to be efficient as an offense. It's not great if we have the top-rated passing team in the league, but we rush for four yards a game. Well, that's not good - and vice versa - if you have 250 yards rushing and five yards passing, that's not good either. It depends what they want to do. As you figure out what you do well, and then you say, "Well, OK, how are they going to play us?' Then, you put together the game plan and you go out there during the first quarter of the game and see whether we had it right or they had it right and you start making adjustments. Over the course of the game, you're always trying to change and evolve into... effectively, you're trying to move the ball and get the ball in the end zone whatever way you think you need to do that. That's what we're going to do.
Q: What have you learned about the Miami corners on the tape since last year?
TB: Well, they're both very talented players, obviously. Jason Allen's in there now at corner, and he's doing a good job for them. And, Vontae [Davis] is playing really well. I'd say that. He's playing like a great corner should. He has all the physical skills and he's playing hard and he's in a good scheme for them. He's a very good player. Jason Allen's playing well for them. He has a couple interceptions this year. They have a good secondary.
Q: Is talent and inexperience a dangerous mix for the secondary?
TB: I'm not sure. The reality is that it's like the Great Wall of China in here. There's the offense and the defense. We don't see each other much during the day except at lunch. So, I don't really know what they're trying to do because I'm spending time on what we need to do. They are all competitive guys. They have very good physical ability. They're all smart. They're all trying to do the right thing. It's been three games. We're 2-1. We have our whole season ahead of us. We're all trying to make improvements - offensively, defensively, special teams. No one's sitting in the meeting room saying, "We have it all figured out over here.' We're trying to go out to the practice field and get better.
Q: (On the contributions of BenJarvus Green-Ellis...)
TB: Yeah, Benny's a tough runner. He's a very strong runner. He plays with a low center of gravity. He has very good balance. There's not a lot to hit on him out there. Even, when he gets hit, he might get bounced around, but he has good balance, so he's able to fall forward. You saw that in this last week's game that he was really able to break some tackles, elude some tacklers and he had a great game for us rushing.
Q: (On Green-Ellis' work ethic...)
TB: Sure, in "08 he had a great year. In "09, we had five [running] backs on the roster. And this year, he's been really called to duty. I think he's always welcomed the challenge. He's playing a lot and obviously, we have a lot of confidence in what he's doing as a back because he gets the ball. And he's in there. He can catch the ball. He blocks well in protection. He's able to run the ball well. He knows the scheme. He's a hard worker. So, that's kind of what you're looking for.
Q: Do you see a common thread as to why the Patriots have struggled on the road lately?
TB: Well, we're 0-1 this year. So really, this is a totally different team than last year. We've played one game on the road this year - a meaningful game. We played well in the first half. We didn't play well in the second half and we lost. It sounds generic, but based on one game this year, it's hard to say, "Well, we have to play well in the second half. That's what we have to do.' We have to play 60 minutes of football. Like I said, you can't expect to go out there on the field and miss throws and turn the ball over and not score in the red area, not play well situationally, and then win the game. You come in here and, "Oh, we made these 10 mistakes.' And, "Oh, why didn't we win that game?' Well, because we can't make mistakes. And when you're on the road, the momentum is tough to gain and it's pretty easy to give away. You can't really make those types of plays. So, that's what we're focusing on this week. There can't be mistakes. If we want to win games against good teams, there can't be mistakes. We're working at that every day. It's not like you try to go out there every day and make mistakes. But, that's part of the season
Q: How much confidence did the good second half against Buffalo give you and can you use that for future games?
TB: Well, like I said, it's a different team we're playing and we have a different plan than last week. There's really no carryover to next week. Yeah, I'd like to play well for four quarters of football. I'd really love to do that and see what kind of team we can be - play with consistency. It doesn't mean we have to play perfect, but it means we can't do things that are going to stop us to gain first downs and force us to punt the ball. That's not winning football. That's something that we've consistently done over the years - be consistent. I think we're trying to figure out reasons why and do a better job of it.
Q: (on how important the division games are...)
TB: Well, these are three opponents this year - Buffalo, Jets and Miami - in the last three weeks. That's our competition. You're right. We're trying to win these games. These are important games for us. If you can't beat these teams, you're not going to win the division. I think that's the goal of the team, is to win the division. Division games on the road are hugely important. We had one of those this year and it didn't go too well. We have another one and hopefully we can go out there and play a lot better.
Q: Can you talk about the options that the young tight ends have given that you maybe haven't had in the past?
TB: Yeah, and Alge [Crumpler]. Alge's been a great player for this offense. You don't see him because he doesn't catch a lot of passes. But, if you watch him and the way he can play on the line of scrimmage at the point of attack. He's a great blocker. The running backs are real happy about having Alge on the team. When you run behind him, you know you're going to gain some yards, because Alge doesn't get pushed back. He's such a great guy. He's a professional. He works his butt off. He's a great example for the two rookies. He's been a huge impact on this offense. And the two rookies - they're doing some good things. They have to do better things, too. We all do. We're expected to. They've made some nice catches. They're going to need to. If they're open, they're going to catch it. They've been in a position to catch balls, so I throw it to them.
Q: What has it been like to see Alge Crumpler be an impact player without necessarily showing up on the stat sheet?
TB: I think it wasn't... I mean when you watch Tennessee the last few years with Chris Johnson running the ball, a 2,000 yards rusher - and Alge's the tight end at the point of attack on those runs. Everyone always wants to point to the running back - and he's a hell of a running back, don't get me wrong - but you need great blocking in front of you. Alge really provides that. And not only can Alge run block, but he's a good pass catcher as well. In the Rams game - making that catch on the sideline - he has great hands...and I have to do a better job of getting him the ball, too, in the passing game, because he's really good with the ball and he has great hands. He's such a smart player. He gets in a good position to catch the ball.
Q: How monumental is Randy Moss 150th touchdown reception?
TB: Yeah, it's an incredible feat. He's a dynamic player in the passing game. The thing about Randy is - you could fall asleep on him for one play and it's a touchdown. I think that's the dangerous part for other teams - you think you got him, you think you got him - and next thing you know, he's celebrating in the end zone. He's a big target. He's a really smart player. He has great hands. He has a great feel. We do certain things with Randy that no one else on the team really does.
Q: Has it been special to you to be able to throw to someone who is going straight to the Hall of Fame?
TB: Of course. And there have been other great receivers that I've played with - Wes [Welker], Troy [Brown], Deion [Branch] and D-Giv [David Givens]. All those guys could play and everyone has different strengths. Randy has a really unique strength in his ability to catch the ball 60 yards down the field. Not a lot of guys can do that. And I think that's really a threat for a defense, because no defense wants to give up a touchdown on one play. They want to make you drive it, and eventually they think they're going to make a play to stop you, force a turnover or something like that. But, on one play - a guy running through the defense - you can't stop that. I think that's a huge threat for him and as well, when he does do that, and they focus on him, a lot of other things are open - whether it's the running game... Coach Belichick always says that whenever we play good receivers that the calls he makes on defense as a coordinator are driven by a great receiver. They open up the running game. Or they open up some underneath passes for some other receivers.
Q: Do you feel like a win in Miami would do a world of confidence for everybody or do you look at it differently than the average fan?
TB: Probably differently than the average fan... I mean, yeah, we expect to go down there and play well. If you can't win on the road, you're not going to be a very good team. So, you have eight home games and eight road games, you know? You don't want to be 8-8. "Yeah, we have a great home record, but we were 0-8 on the road.' We have to win these games. We have to put a lot into it, and we're going to put a lot into it. We haven't had a good record on the road this year - 0-1. So, we're going to go down and play against a very good football team that plays well at home, that's always played us well at home and we're going to try to play a great game of football. That's what we're trying to do.
Q: Are you tired of hearing about the road and second-half woes questions?
TB: I pretty much answer whatever you guys want me to answer. I don't turn those down too often. I understand the question. I understand why there's questions. It's probably something that we as players don't focus on as much. Whenever we go out there, we try to play to a certain level. But we also understand that when you play in a road environment, there are other issues that come up. And we have to do a better job of handling that.
Q: Do you ever have to worry about a natural tendency to gravitate towards throwing to Randy Moss?
TB: You know, I'm always trying to spread the ball around, but sometimes you give some guys some opportunities. When you have your great players on the field, you want to give your great players opportunities. A boxer doesn't come out of a great match thinking, "Man, I wish I would have thrown my right hand more.' You have to throw it and see what happens. If that's something that you feel is a strength, then sometimes you have to take a shot at it, too. And, other times you have to be smart. So, it's always a balancing act. As a player, sometimes it's good to take a shot. Sometimes it's not. That's why we get paid.