Q: A lot of the offensive linemen have talked about how good of test this week is going to be facing the Detroit Lions' front four. How do you go into a game like this knowing you're facing a pretty fierce front line on the other side of the ball?
TB: We played them last year, too, so we have a very good idea of the issues they present for the front, with the running backs included. It's a very talented group - a very talented front, especially pass rushing. They can get after the quarterback, so you're not going to be standing back there holding onto it for too long - not that we do that very often anyway. But especially a week like this where all those guys really feed off the sacks, the negative plays, their crowd really feeds into it - really what was evidenced by us in the first half of the game last year. That's always a concern when you play a team with a good front, so there's a lot of thought that goes into play calling, and obviously me making quick decisions and getting rid of the ball.
Q: I think you said on Monday that one of the things you wanted to focus on after Thursday night was decision making. How do you do that? How do you get better at that?
TB: You make a really conscious effort. Because you go through all of training camp and a lot of 7-on-7 drills where there's no pass rush and you can kind of look to the right and look to the left, and 'Yeah, okay where am I going to throw the ball now?' and you throw it. In the game, you don't have a lot of time. Some plays, you think you may have time and a guy gets an edge on an offensive lineman and he's at the quarterback. You've got to make a good, quick decision of 'okay, what am I going to do now? You try to throw it away. You try to put it where only your guy can catch it. So, a lot of it is just getting used to the tempo of a real game. That's why we play those preseason games. Really, when you start training camp, it's the same way. You feel like everything is slow. You're like, 'God, I just can't read things fast enough. I'm not getting the ball there fast enough.' And I think over the course of the six weeks of training camp, preseason games, you really get into the flow of the game, so 'OK, now I know the tempo. Now I really -' Then you can actually bring that to practice the next week. Because we know from the previous game how you're going to feel when you're out there, boom, decision-making which is something I have been thinking about, it's actually been a lot better the last few days, so we have to keep that going.
Q: So it's like your mental clock had slowed down a little bit?
TB: Yeah, it gets used to shelled practices and me wearing a red jersey - that's what it gets used to. And you have to realize that these guys are coming and they're coming high, low, on each side, sliding in the pocket. Because in practice you stand back there and they come at you, but then they pull off so you may think 'Oh OK, I'll just make the throw', but that's not the way it works when you're playing for real."
Q: How important is it for you to establish and vary your tempo to keep the defense off balance? And did you see that in the last game against Tampa Bay that they were a little flustered?
TB: Sure, and that's always the goal. I think tempo for us is always something that we talk about. It's something that our coaches think is very important because you can get into a rhythm out there, you can get into a real good rhythm. It's hard when you have bad tempo when you have a slow rhythm to your offense and then guys are walking back to the huddle and walking to the line and then what happens is it's a bad play and then you walk to the huddle. To me, when we get a good play going, I really like for us to put the pressure on the defense rather than give them time to catch their breath and I really enjoy that part of - probably why I love being in the two minute drill also. It's a mandatory fast tempo at that point but you're rushing to the line of scrimmage, you can see the coverage, ball's snapped, you make a throw and you're onto the next play and I think if you do that well it can be really a great strength for a team.
Q: Typically in preseason, the third game is the last one for the starters. Do you get that sense this year?
TB: I think we're prepared to play - we're always prepared to play around here. Coach Belichick makes that pretty clear to us at the beginning of the week. He said, 'Just expect to play the whole game.' You could play the first quarter, you could play the fourth quarter. For the first preseason game on, he says 'guys who are in jerseys, that's what your job is to do - your job is to play.' We're into the game, we're ready to play, whenever he feels like taking us out he can take us out. And if he wants to put us back in, he puts us in. It's good preparation for all of us - being on the sideline because lot of times, you don't know when your number is going to be called so it's good to be prepared, it's good to be mentally into the game. The third preseason game is always important in that sense because traditionally, we do play longer, but who knows? Hopefully we go out and play really well. I think that would be a great way for us to kind of see where we're at against a very good team.
Q: Even without the camps and being behind, do you like how you've progressed to this point?
TB: Certainly, we've made progress. We've gotten better, I'd say, from where we started. I remember being out there the first five or six days and thinking 'Man, we have to get going, we have to get moving.' But that's just part of the learning process and I think that the guys who have been out there practicing, we work hard, whatever coach asks us to do, we do and then sure, you see improvement. Plays that we weren't making early in camp, we've been making more of those plays. I think there still needs to be much more consistency from everybody. Especially me, I have to be more consistent out there. But you can feel like you're getting into more of a rhythm of the football season now, where after being off for a significant period of time without any real activities for us to judge where we were at.
Q: Obviously you don't want to get hurt but how important is it to take a hit and get back up? How important is that in terms of getting into a rhythm during the preseason?
TB: That's part of the preseason process - to have guys sack you and knock you on the ground so your body can kind of callous to those hits. Hopefully not too much, but enough where you can -- that's actually a nice thing to have happen for a quarterback is to get hit you kind of settle into the game because everybody goes out there with some anxiety, some nerves. The offensive linemen, it gets knocked out of them pretty quick because they're able to hit somebody right across from the line of scrimmage. For a quarterback, it's nice sometimes to take a hit and you really settle into the game.
Q: Do you get amused by the reaction of the fans and the media after two great preseason performances? Obviously you guys don't buy into it.
TB: No, I don't think we do. Detroit was 4-0 a few preseasons ago and ended up being 0-16. I just read the Colts lost like eight straight preseason games and they seem to be…they're a pretty good regular season, postseason team. So I think more of it is just there's individual preparation that's taking place. However good it looks, it's not ever as good as it looks and however bad it looks, it's never really as bad as it looks. I think you have to take those plays - I think when I'm out there, I'm trying to make sure that every play is a positive play. Whether you're scoring, we're out there to score points, that's what we're trying to do. But in a preseason game where you're trying to work on some real individual things and then cumulatively as a team you see where you're at. But individually I'd like to think that I can make more progress this week than I did last week. That comes from working at it in practice. Like I said, you create some awareness in practice by what you did in the previous week. So things that were issues for you in the game, you think about, you work on them and the next week you see if you made improvements.
Q: Did you hear the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl?
TB: The Jets - well we've heard that for a few years so it's always, you don't ever hear us talking too much about that. I think there is a long way to go between now and the regular season. We have a very important preseason game coming up. All of these games are important for us. It's so far away at this point - we have other things on our mind.
Q: Do you ever pay attention to what the Jets do in the offseason?
TB: Sure, I pay attention to every team.
Q: Are you caught up to where you should be at this point or is it really impossible considering where you started from with no offseason program?
TB: Who knows? I don't know where we should have been or could have been. Things happened pretty fast and I think everyone from the time that they said 'Alright, time to play football,' guys have been working at it pretty hard. We have some long practices out there, guys are working hard out there at practice and trying to get in really good shape for these games, trying to get caught up to speed on what we're trying to do offensively. There are a lot of nuances to our offense that all the new players are working hard to try to understand better. And the veteran players are trying to do the same thing because there are things we're doing this year that we haven't done in the past. How it all comes together - we'll see. We have had a few tests, so to speak, but how it all comes together - we won't know that for a long time.
Q: Peyton Manning hasn't missed a game in his 13 year career. Are you surprised there is a possibility he won't play in Week One?
TB: He'll be playing. Are you kidding me? He'll be playing. I know Peyton, he's as tough a competitor as there is so it will hard to keep him out. I think I heard, Coach Dungy said that he'd have to be dead or something not to play in that game.
Q: Chad Ochocinco said he wanted to live with a fan as long as they had Xbox and the Internet. What would you want? A waterslide?
TB: That's pretty good. I'm pretty easy to satisfy. I don't know. I don't think Chad is quite as easy to satisfy as I would be. Those beds they have in the locker room over here, those would work for me. It wouldn't take much. No waterslides though.
Q: What are your thoughts on tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez making the leap from year one to year two? It seems like they're making strides.
TB: They have [made strides] and I think they're two guys who are really key parts of this offense. The tight end position in our offense has become, especially with what they can do, a huge part of what we're doing. I think both of them have really taken their role, understood the importance of it, become better understanding of the offense as a whole, you know working hard and their leadership aspect to this offense. I mean, they lost Alge [Crumpler] isn't there anymore but I think they really paid attention to Alge and the leadership he provided and they need to be huge assets to this team because there's a lot of people counting on them. It's fun to have them out there. They're both making plays out there in practice and they're fun to be around - they're fun guys to be around.