Q: How effective are those shallow crosses in handling pressure defense? Why is it that such a big part of this offense?
TB:We made a few plays the other night. It helps having fast receivers, guys who can get across the field and try to run away from the coverage. A lot of teams use it. I always say you've got to attack different parts of the field at different times. So if they're playing off, you've got to run those types of routes. If they're up tight, then you've got to simulate that and try to run by them. I think it's important to have a lot of variety in what you're trying to do. That's what we'll try to figure out how to do this week.
Q: Are those plays mostly by design or is it a read?
TB:It just depends on the call, so Josh [McDaniels] just designs those plays and then calls them at certain times. I don't think there's anything that detailed to it. And most of the times on the routes you'll have a short player, you'll have an intermediate player, you'll have a deep player. You try to spread them out throughout the field. It's rare you're going to have multiple guys in one spot, so if a receiver is going to be short on a particular play, it probably means other guys are down the field. If the backs are the guys who are the underneath players, then it gives the receivers and tight ends a chance to get to the intermediate and deep parts of the field. So a lot of it is just trying to spread the field and make them defend all those different areas.
Q: Going into this week, do you still have to change things up because of injuries?
TB:Yep, and I think there's always creativity to what we're trying to do because every week it's just something different. This defense that we're playing is the best defense in the NFL, so they do everything well. It's pretty challenging to find things on tape that you really like. We've got to be smart with the ball. That's a huge key of the game is them being able to take it off of you and return it for touchdowns and so forth, so they're very tough, tough in all areas.
Q: When you lose guys who are good at picking up yards after the catch, does that change the way you go after the sticks?
TB:Yeah, I think you're trying to just find the space. If you can get it to him quickly before the guys get really close, then it gives him some opportunity to run after it. And we did a good job of that the other night. These guys, it's a lot of tough, tight coverage. They put a lot of pressure on you. I think that's the mark of a good defense is putting pressure on the offense. So they put a lot of pressure on you in their pass rush, and then they put a lot of pressure on your skill guys to get open in coverage because they don't give you anything. That's where the real challenge is. They've limited teams to yards, points, turnovers, sacks, first-down defense. They're impressive in every statistical category. They've got great players. They've got great rushers. They've got guys, some of the best that I've ever seen play in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. They're pretty unstoppable.
Q: What is this week like for you guys in terms of having the short week, being a little banged up and being on the road on Thanksgiving weekend? What is the challenge this week for you and the team?
TB:Mental toughness – that's what it comes down to. We're off to a good start, but it really doesn't mean anything. So whatever happens after this Thursday is what's going to matter to our season, and this is when we need to start playing well.
Q: You don't play against the other quarterback, but will it be strange that there won't be a Peyton Manning/Tom Brady matchup?
TB:Truthfully I haven't thought about that much. It's a lot of work preparing for this defense. You're right, I don't play against that other side of the ball. I mean, there's nobody that has more respect for Peyton than me outside of probably his parents and his brothers. If anybody can appreciate what he's accomplished it's me, so he's just been remarkable in every part of his career. He's been a tremendous player. It's unfortunate. Everyone deals with injuries at different times, so it just happens to be this week. They won last week with the guy that they had in there. I think their defense is a huge ... They've been as good as any defense in the league. It's been a short week. It's been a day and a half, and I've focused all my attention on that defense and trying to figure out a way for us to move the ball a little bit.
Q: How does your body feel right now getting ready to go up against Denver on a short week after taking a lot of hits last week?
TB:I feel great – 100 percent.
Q: A lot of high school football players will play the final game of their lives tomorrow. How thankful are you that 20 years or so after a lot of guys hang up the pads for good, you have a tackle football game to play on Sunday that isn't going to make your wife say, "What the heck are you wasting your time doing that for?"
TB:She says that to me all the time, definitely. She said that to me last night as a matter of fact. Yeah, it's a great time here in Massachusetts for football, and we've hosted a lot of those games here, state championships and so forth. There are a lot of state championships this week. I got an email from Drew Bledsoe. His son plays in the state championship this week, which is pretty cool. Thanksgiving is always about football and being with your family, and it makes for a great holiday.
Q: Does the Denver defense disguise their plays well?
TB:I think they're very aggressive, so the coach wants them to know what they're doing so they can just tee off on the quarterback, and they all do. So every team has a different style. I think when you're the first-ranked defense in the league obviously you're doing something right. And they can get to the passer, so those guys are in a good position when the ball is snapped. They are very aggressive. I don't think there's anything the offense can really do to dictate what they do defensively. They just call their defense, and then they try to tear your head off.
Q: Is that out of the 3-4 defense?
TB: Everything, they've got lots of different fronts and blitzes. And they're all good. They've got good lineman, they've got good linebackers and great coverage in the secondary.