PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY PRESS CONFERENCE
Q: How timely has the emergence of Keshawn Martin been these past few weeks?
TB: He's done a great job for us. We got him relatively early in the year and he was in Houston's program for a couple of years so at least he had some familiarity with kind of how we do things and how we call things. Since he's got his opportunity he has really taken advantage of it. I certainly have a lot of confidence in him and he keeps making plays out there for our team, whether that's on offense or special teams, so it's been great to see him, like I said, really emerge and be a real critical player for us.
Q: How do you maintain consistency in the passing game with all of the turnover?
TB: Whoever's playing we just try to go out there and practice as hard as we can, which Coach [Belichick] talked a lot this morning about. The only way to really improve is to go out there and practice and do things at a very competitive level so you can really see how things shake out on a practice field before you get to the game on Sunday. You only have three opportunities to do that per week. You try to gain confidence in everybody by putting everybody into a positon to go out there and see if they can do it and compete hard and develop some confidence in what we're trying to accomplish, and then if it doesn't work and you're doing it full speed and you're doing it against scout team – getting a real live reaction and it's not very productive – then you've got to try and make some changes before you get to the game. You can walk through all these things and, 'Oh yeah everything looks great,' and then you get out there on the field under live competition and it doesn't work. You just try to practice as hard as you can. Like I said, we've kind of had a lot of different guys out there so you put different guys in different positions and see what they can do.
Q: How important is self-preservation in the pocket for you when it comes to taking big hits?
TB: Absolutely, it's really important. I think every player, you always talk about making good decisions in the pocket as a quarterback and making good throws and so forth, some of it is knowing the journey is over and going down and not taking a – you know you stand in there and take a huge hit and look tough and then be out for four games and not help your team win. It's a long season and I think you've got to try to be smart about which ones you take and which ones you don't. You'd love to stand in there every throw and step into it and get blown up and act like it's no big deal, but I think sometimes those things do end up being big hits. Like I said, if you're knocked out for four or five games – I talk a lot of times to our receivers especially when you're a 185-pound receiver as opposed to a 220-pound receiver or you're a smaller running back you don't need to take unnecessary hits because you're really putting yourself into a position where you're not available to the team anymore, and that's obviously not helping the team win. So you've got to try to do what you can to help the team win on that particular play and if its fourth down you've got to try to make the play but if its first-and-10 in the middle of the second quarter – Coach [Belichick] talks all about risk-reward with throwing the ball. Even if you complete that pass it's a two-yard gain. If you don't complete it, it's an interception. Is a two-yard reception worth the risk of the interception? I mean it's really not. It goes along with other decisions in the pocket and so forth as a quarterback.
Q: How important is it to establish some sort of offensive rhythm in this final game before heading into the playoffs?
TB: Yeah, we try to, whether it's this week or last week or any week, you're always trying to do that to a degree. I think you'd love to be firing away on all cylinders. At this point there's still a lot of moving parts with our team, our offense, and it's just kind of the way football season is. We're going to do everything we can to try and play our very best this weekend depending on who's out there and things will take shape and what we'll do may be a little bit different. But whoever's out there we need to go out and execute at a high level. I think that's what it comes down to. If it's anything less than that than you don't give yourself as good a chance or opportunity to win the game, so we're going to try and go out there and play our best and see if we can put together four good quarters of football.
Q: Is it frustrating to you as a perfectionist not being able to establish that rhythm due to the injuries on offense?
TB: Yeah, and I think there's just, it's kind of football season for every team. Teams deal with it at different times. It could be the first few games of the year, could be the middle of the year, late in the year. I just think you've got to compete, no matter who is out there, do the best you can do, see how it shakes out at the end of 16 games. You wish it would be perfect and you win 50-0 every week and no one would ever get injured, but that'll never happen. There are a lot of imperfections to football season. It's just over the course of 17 weeks with one bye, you only have a certain number of players, and you play teams at different times that may or may not be dealing with injuries themselves, or scheme things, some coaches get fired. There are a lot of things that happen over the course of the year. You just try and do the best you can do each week, and it is one game that you've got to try to win per week and then you just empty the tank, and then you start again next week with the preparation and practice and competition. You deal with your guys being injured, try and attack weaknesses of the other team, and then see what happens and then you start again next week. Right now this is Week 17 of that. Like I said, we could just empty the tank one last time and try and go get a win at a place that we always have a tough time winning, then I think we're in a good position. Then we'll see what happens the next week.
Q: How important is home field advantage?
TB: I think it's better to win this game than to lose this game because you obviously love to always play at home because of communication and so forth. Whoever wins in the playoffs is the team that plays the best on that day, not whether home or away. It's going to be who plays the best. I think this game is really important for us because, you know, it's a great goal for us to be the number one seed. A lot goes into that, a lot of offseason work by a lot of players and coaches, the whole organization to get to this point. There's only one team that gets the number one seed. It's great if you're that team because it means you've done things better than anybody else over the course of the season. We've put ourselves in a good position and hopefully we can go finish strong.