Q:** Can you talk a little bit about the challenge you guys have this week, unfamiliar territory being 1-2, but just taking that and trying to improve this week going to a tough place to play?
TB: Yeah, it's a very tough place to play. I think we have to, I said the other day, dig ourselves out of a bit of a hole that we kind of put ourselves into. We're sitting here at 1-2 and looking up at Buffalo and the Jets. It's a big, obviously, big game for us in terms of conference and division standings. Any time you play a division opponent on the road it's a big game. We lost up there last year, so we have to go out there and try to play better than we've been playing.
Q: You put up 30 points on a historically good defense. When you look at Rob Gronkowski's involvement, do you say to yourself, 'We could do even more if we get him involved'?
TB: He's a big player for us and I think as a tight end you have a different role. You're run blocking, you're pass blocking, you're catching passes. This particular game it wasn't as productive in the pass game, but he has his weeks also. He's a big player in this offense and his role and what we ask him to do. Hopefully we just score more points. I don't really care who gets the ball; I just hope we can score more points than the other team.
Q: As veterans, what type of message are you giving the team going into this game?
TB: We have to obviously make improvements because what we're doing isn't good enough. That's in any area – that's certainly that everyone has to look at what they can do better to really help the team win. So, it's frustrating when we lose. It's been two weeks in a row and obviously nobody feels very good about it. But all of our energy and focus is on this particular opponent and the challenges they present, certainly a big challenge for us. They're a very good team, very well coached and they play well at home. It's going to be a battle.
Q: How long are they with Mario Williams and Mark Anderson? It's almost like throwing through trees against them.
TB: Yeah, they're big. It's a big front, it's big linebackers, they can all move, they're athletic and they really count on those front four to get to the quarterback and they do it. It's not like you can stand back there and figure everything out all day. They have some guys that can really rush the passer. Bringing in Mario and Mark obviously added a lot to their defense and they think so as well. They're very good and they have some young guys in the secondary who are playing really well and a good group of linebackers. It's a good defense.
Q: These clock-killing drives at the end of the game, can you almost say that those are almost as important as a scoring drive during the game? How important are they?
TB: We talk about it all the time – situational football. There's red area, there's third down, there's short-yardage, there's goal line, there's two-minute and four-minute offense is critical when you're winning the game and you have to figure out a way to keep their offense off the field and still move the ball offensively, get first downs and chew up the clock. It's something that we obviously need some work on.
Q: Is it almost a different mindset from the first 56 minutes? Because you're doing one thing for most of the game – trying to gain points – but at that point you're trying to kill the clock? As a quarterback and an offense, is it a different mindset?
TB: It's different, but at the same time it's just really a shift in your mind. It's the same thing on a two-minute drive or the same thing on a red area or a change of possession. Football is all about situational football and being able to adjust and adapt to the situation so that you're really able to handle it well as a team and everybody knows what's going on and everybody knows what we're trying to do. The stuff we talk about and we work on, obviously when we do it well it looks great and when it doesn't, it doesn't look so good. We have a lot of things to work on and that's obviously right at the top of the list.
Q: You mentioned on Sunday night that you feel like the team lacks killer instinct. Is that something you've felt just the last couple of weeks or something that goes back to last season? How do you remedy that?
TB: I don't think about last season. I don't really think about that much. I think that we have to go out and play well this week and win. That's really what my concern is. How the team responds…this is about winning. When you win, you don't get questions about the four-minute offense or stuff like that; it's more 'What do we need to do to be better?' I think that's still part of it. It's not like we sit here and look in the locker room and say, 'Wow, we're terrible, we can't make any plays, we're not even in these games.' We're right in them; we just have to do a better job in certain areas. If we do that, we'll start winning close games. If we don't, we'll have a miserable year. No one wants that around here.
Q: Bill Belichick has said he tries to put you guys in those pressure situations in practice to try to simulate the game situations. Have you guys been responding to those in practice and it just hasn't translated to games?
TB: I think it's just more [that] whether you make the play or you don't make the play on Sunday, certainly sometimes you just don't make the play. To not be aware of the situation is another thing. I think he's always trying to coach us to be aware of the situation. Whether we execute it great or not, you can know exactly what to do and how to do it but you just don't get it done. I don't think it's from us not knowing what's going on out there. I just think we need to a do a better job executing.
Q: How do you think the chemistry with Brandon Lloyd is developing?
TB: I think that we're still working at it. We have a long season ahead of us. We've made some plays; we've missed some. We're 1-2, so our chemistry in terms of our offense and what we're doing isn't very good in general. We're going to try to make some improvements this week and try to see if we can do a better job against a good defense. They'll really challenge us in all areas with their pass rush, with the secondary and way that they cover, they're up tight and they jam you and they want to be physical. It's not like there are a lot of easy yards out there.
Q: Can you talk about him as a route runner? It seems like he's always open or you're not afraid to put it in a small window with him.
TB: Yeah, I have a lot of confidence in Brandon. He's certainly earned it, his work ethic and his ability to come in here and really digest all the information that he's gotten and developing chemistry with the other receivers. He's made a lot of big plays for us early in the year.
Q: What was your reaction to what happened in the game Monday night?
TB: I was sleeping. I woke up Tuesday morning like everyone else did and to tell you the truth, I was thinking about the Bills. What's going on out there, I could really care less about. I want to win.
Q: Does the officiating come into your mindset at all during the week or is it just you guys doing what you can to prepare for Buffalo?
TB: That's what we have to do. You can't really approach it any way else other than to worry about what you can control. You can't worry about what call is made or not made or who is out there, the wind, the weather, the crowd noise – it's just part of mental toughness that you have to persevere. Certainly, I don't normally just take the easy way out and say, 'It's their fault, it's not our fault.' No, we can do a lot of things better. If we did everything perfect, then you'd probably hear me [complain] a little bit more, but we're certainly not doing everything perfectly.
Q: Does it feel differently out there? Is the flow of the game different with the replacement officials?
TB: Like I said, I'm just trying to play quarterback. I'm not thinking about the flow or the TV timeouts. It feels very much like football. Our opponent last week was the Ravens, this week it's the Bills. It's not anyone else other than that. If we get a call, great. If we don't, we don't. We have to move on. Hopefully we don't leave it up to one play or one call and hopefully we do a better job so that we're in a position at the end of the game to not rely on a particular call that's made, to go out there and try to execute at a high level as a team for 60 minutes and see how it plays out then.
Q: How hard is it to move past the emotions of a loss like that?
TB: Well you have to in the NFL because the clock is ticking on the next week's game. You can't sit around for four days and mourn a loss and say, 'God, this is the end of our year.' I mean, we're 1-2, we're not in a good position right now, we're in the exact position we deserve to be in, and we've got to do something about it. So the energy and attention is focused on this opponent and how we can be better and how we can play better so that hopefully if we play well, we can get to 2-2. That's the only place we can go from here.
Q: When they did what they did in the offseason to shore up that front four, is it almost similar to the Giants where from their standpoint, they can just trust those four guys to get to the quarterback and not have worry about the back seven?
TB: I think it allows you to do some different things coverage wise when you have a front four that can really get to the quarterback. You don't have to worry about too many blitzes or too many funky looks. It's just a matter of, 'Alright guys, you get the quarterback. The rest of the guys, you handle the passing game.' And that's about what it is. When you have guys as talented as they do, that's probably a good scheme to have to allow those guys to rush and be free and to go make a bunch of plays and really try to force the quarterback into throwing the ball quickly and into really tight coverage and you see them come up with a lot of balls that are in the air around the intended receiver. They intercept the ball and they have some real playmakers on defense.
Q: Do you think it would be unfair if Coach Belichick were to be fined for touching an official after the game Sunday?
TB: That's probably a better question for him. That's not really part of my involvement.
Q: There have been a few touchdown opportunities left behind in the red zone. What do you think the issue has been there?
TB: Yeah, that's been a big, I think, reason why we've lost these last two games is because we're kicking field goals. If you start scoring touchdowns in those situations, then – you know, those are four-point swings every time you have to kick a field goal and I think we kicked whatever it was, three field goals last week. It's hard to win if you're not productive in the red area and we have to [be]. That's definitely something we have to do a better job of. We get down there and we've been moving the ball and we've only had a few three-and-outs I think in three games – two three-and-outs – so we feel like we can move the ball, but the concentration has to continue to build as you work toward the red area and you have to play your best football in the red area because the windows are the tightest, including the running game.
Q: Because of the hysteria surrounding the officiating this week, is it tougher to drown out all that noise and focus on a big road game?
TB: I think we have all the motivation we need to go out and play well this week. I think that we need to tighten some things up in practice. I think we all have to understand what we have to do a better job of and like I said, not concern ourselves with things that are out of our control. What we control is our attitude, our preparation, and really the process. If there's a bad outcome and a good process, then you've just got to work harder at the process. Certainly we've had two bad outcomes the last few weeks, but we believe in what we're doing, we believe we can continue to work hard and get better. We're showing improvements in some areas and it's obvious we still need to improve in some others.