Q:Can you talk about what you take from Game 1 and bring that into Game 2 as you start your season?
TB:I'd say it's really a new start for us. As soon as that game ended, you have to move on to the next opponent. We certainly have a very good one in Arizona. Coach [Belichick] talked a lot over the last few days about really getting to know them; it's not really an opponent we play as often as some of these other teams. They're very dangerous, they've got some really great players; they're obviously on a hot streak, winning eight of their last 10. Really the last two days have been about trying to understand their strengths, what they do well and really how we need to play the game.
Q:How are they different defensively than Tennessee? How are they different from teams that you've seen in the past?
TB:Every team has some different styles to it and schemes and coverages and so forth. They really try to play to the strength of their players. They have a very disruptive front – [Darnell] Dockett and [Calais] Campbell are really impressive players. It's a very physical team, they're fast. I'd say that they're just very disruptive. Great red area team – Coach [Belichick] said they led the league in red area the last few years. Obviously watching last weekend's game against Seattle, they had an incredible red area stand there to win the game. They play hard for 60 minutes. Those are some of the things that we talked about that we're going to really need to counter with a physical style of play and try to go out there and execute our plays and certainly try to do it better than we did last week.
Q:Do you see a lot of the Steelers properties in that defense? Coach Whisenhunt was on the offensive side.
TB:Yeah and defensively there's some of that too. I wouldn't say it's the same, but you see a few similarities. But they're really their own style of defense. They have some really unique players: Adrian Wilson is a phenomenal player, Patrick Peterson is a good young player. They have quite a few of their own strengths that they really play to. We have to have a real good week of practice and try to really understand even better the things that they're doing that are allowing them to win all these games.
Q:Do you look for players who do things similar to the way you do them and then watch film on how the Cardinals defenders reacted to that team?
TB:To a degree. That's part of the preparation, is to try to find maybe some similar offenses, teams that may use some of the formations that we may use or some of the play-action passes that we may use. You try to look at the really good offenses or the ones that have really produced well against them in the past and see what they've done. You also look at the teams that haven't done very well, too. It's equally important to watch some of the teams where the quarterback has 120 yards passing to see what they did wrong. But at the same time, we do what we do and we have our own style and strengths that we need to play to as well. That's part of the game plan preparation that lasts all the way up to five minutes before the game starts. You're trying to figure out ways to use your players in the best situation possible and to take advantage of what you feel like is perceived weakness on their part.
Q:At one point, you called Wes Welker 'the heart and soul of the Patriots.' We didn't see him as much in the opener as we have in the past. How unusual was that for you? Is that reflective of his role on the team changing?
TB:I'm not sure. Every week is a little bit different. There are different opportunities on different weeks for different players. I think the thing that is important to remember is it's a 16-game season so you start getting up there and play 600 or 700 plays every year and when you need it most you have to be fresh. I think that goes for all of us. It's hard to…there's really a fine line. You're not pacing yourself by any stretch but at the same time, look it's Week 1. We have a lot of football to play and we're going to need everybody. There are going to be games where Wes has not as many opportunities and there are going to be games where he has a ton of opportunities. It all depends on how the game may play out or the situation of the game. But he's a huge part of this offense and what we do on a weekly basis. I'm sure there won't be too many games where he doesn't get a lot of opportunity.
Q:Mike Lombardi said that ever since he's known Bill Belichick, all he's cared about is tight ends. Have you noticed that at all? What are some of the advantages of running two tight end sets?
TB:I think with our tight ends who have really taken on a pretty extensive role in our offense and have done a great job of that, maybe you get some matchup issues that go along with the defense. Coach Belichick always sees things as a defensive coach and 'How are we going to defend these guys?' and so forth and that's his background. When you have a good tight end and tight ends line up in the inside part of the formation, so really they can go anywhere on the field. They go across the field, they go to the sideline, they go short, medium, deep – they can do it all. When you have tight ends that can do those things as well as run block, there's quite a bit of versatility within your offense. As we tried to be last weekend, very balanced in what we did between the run game and the pass game, different areas of the field that we were trying to exploit. I think that's what we're trying to accomplish every week.
Q:How rare is it to find two like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and have them at the same time?
TB:We've had some pretty good tight ends here in the past too and we won a lot of games. They're two great young players and they're counted on every week. That was the first week of the season and hopefully we can make this week even better.
Q:Can you talk about how the offensive line played last week, especially considering they were mixed and matched throughout the preseason?
TB:Those guys have really worked hard throughout the course of the entire preseason; to see how the roster may have sorted itself out and the different position battles that have taken place. The guys that were in there last weekend competed extremely hard for the entire game. I thought they performed great. I had a lot of time back there to make my reads and make my throws. Communication was great, especially playing on the road in your first game, with really a new center – there's quite a bit of communication that takes place between the quarterback and the center. Like I said, stuff that we can continue to build on. I have a ton of confidence in those guys; I always have.
Q:Have you spent extra time with Ryan Wendell, to help that communication between quarterback and center?
TB:All the time. That's probably the one position where you're constantly in communication, at practice, between when the defense is doing their drills, you're working on different things with the snap or the cadence and things that we need to communicate to each other to get everybody on the same page.
Q:How much can you game plan for balance and how much develops over the course of the game?
TB:You try to game plan it for the most part weekly. I think sometimes, depending on the game situation, it becomes maybe a bit out of balance if you get a substantial lead or vice versa, where the second half, you may be forced to throw it a lot more than you would like to. But when it's a competitive game and it's still the first quarter, second quarter and you play some of these games that are going to be four-quarter games, you really have to be able to do that over the course of the entire game. As it turned out last week, that's pretty much how it happened. We kind of played the game the way that we talked about needing to play the game.
Q:Did you say anything to the rookies like, 'Hey, it was one game, let's just focus on this next practice, not even the next game but the next practice?'
TB:Yeah, I think those are some of the things that all the veteran players talk to some of the younger players about. You have to realize, with the four preseason games and one regular season game, its five games but really it's no games. Five games is almost half a college season. But those guys are mature and I'm sure that Coach [Belichick] is going to try to help them understand it as well. We all have that responsibility as teammates to try to push a guy through a certain week when he may not be feeling his best. That's part of the mental toughness that you have as a team and that you build over the course of training camp. It's a long season; we haven't even started. One game down and there's a ton of football to play. I think the important thing is to make the improvements on a daily basis so when you're in November and December, you've really progressed over the course of a lot of practices, a lot of games, you've learned from a lot of situations so that really in the most critical months and when you need it the most, you're able to go out and execute based on some past experiences.
Q:Is there anything you want to say to the home fans?
TB:Hopefully we give them a lot of reasons to cheer, to be excited. That usually results from us playing well so I hope that's the case again.
Q:It seemed like last year the crowd was pretty excited the entire way.
TB:Yeah, we get great support; we get great support at training camp. This is a sports town; the people that come out and support us we love. We have great fans that cheer loud. Like I said, the more touchdowns we score, the louder they're going to cheer. Hopefully we can get them revved up early.
Q:How's the nose?
TB:It feels a lot better. It's OK. My wife likes it, so I'm good.
Q:What are your thoughts on Troy Brown's career with him going into the Patriots Hall of Fame this weekend?
TB:Troy is a great friend of mine. He's just a special player and friend and teammate. We've been in the huddle for a lot of years. It's really a great honor for him. He certainly deserves it. When you think of a Patriots player and attitude, that's the first guy that comes to mind. Everyone will be excited for him. We see him here from time to time. I know he still wishes he could get out and play with us. He says he's always got three or four more plays left in him but he's getting a little heavy to me so I don't know about that.