Q:What kind of peace of mind does it give you to have a guy like Shane Vereen?
TB:Yeah, he's done such a great job for us over the time that he's been here. I think dependability really sums it up, and he's really an explosive player for us, too. It's just trying to continue to find ways to get him the ball because he does a lot of great things when it's in his hands.
Q:After the quick turnaround with the Jets, how nice is it to have time to rest your body?
TB:Yeah, hopefully everybody really took advantage of it. You're right, we played a lot of games in a short period of time, so it was good to kind of catch up on some things and also try to get ahead. We've had a lot of work on the Bears, a lot of preparation. Hopefully we can kind of stay out in front of it. We've been at it yesterday and today and the next couple days, so I think we know them pretty well for not playing them in a while.
Q:As you get older, does the way you take care of your body and the way you deal with rest change?
TB: **Yeah, I think you just learn some different things that may work more effectively for you as an individual. You deal with short weeks and long weeks, and I think you've just got to be ready to play your best whenever the game is. It could be Monday night, it could be Thursday night, it could be Saturday night, which we've played, Sunday day, Sunday night. Everyone has different things that they do and so forth, but really, you've got to figure out what works for you as a player so you can try to be at your best every week.
Q:When you think about the Bears coming to Gillette Stadium, do you have fond recollections of dynamic quarterback scrambles?
TB:I know, somehow that always gets brought up, too, when we play these guys. There weren't many of those in my career, so it's pretty easy to count them all on one hand when something like that happens. We've had some great games against those guys, some very memorable games. They've got a real good defense, and I think they always have. It's kind of been a mark of that team for a long time. A lot of guys at different positions – [Lance] Briggs is still there, Jared Allen is a great player – they've got quite a few of them. And some new faces, too – the type of guys that we've really had to take time to get to learn. So, it's going to be a big challenge for us, but we're excited for it. Hopefully we can go out and try to get to 6-2.
Q:You said after that play that one day you'd be able to tell your kids that you faked out Brian Urlacher. Now that you have kids, did you tell them?
TB:They're probably still too young to know that at this point. To figure out what dad does yet is still kind of confusing for them. One day, you're right. He'll be in the Hall of Fame someday, so it'll probably be the only time I've made a Hall of Famer miss.
Q:Was the scrambling throw you made to Danny Amendola a product of you guys working on throwing on the run during the spring and summer?
TB:Yeah, that's never really been something that I've been great at is extending plays. I see so many of these players – whether it be Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler do it, Alex Smith does it – some really mobile quarterbacks that do a great job for their team. Ben Roethlisberger has done it for a lot of years. I'm just trying to understand how I can help our team more. If I can make some more of those plays, I think it'd really help our team. I try to focus on that a little bit. Coach [Belichick] has talked about it. I think there could be more of those still, too. I don't think instinctually it's there for me yet, but I'm going to keep working at it. Because when you see when they happen, they end up being big plays, big momentum plays. Sometimes the defense has the initial part of the pattern covered, and if you're ever to extend the play and buy your teammates more time to get open, then it's like a whole other play. It's a great advantage for an offense. Like I said, it hasn't really been a strength of mine. I'm trying to do a better job of it so hopefully it's not as big of a weakness as it's been in the past.
Q:How do you work on that? In your mind, what's the key to mobility for you?
TB:I think there are mental parts and there are physical parts. I think the physical part is just to keep working on your leg strength, your ability to move when you need to move to be able to get away from people. I think for me sometimes it's more of a mental issue. I joke all the time, I said, I don't have one cell in my body that ever tells me to run. I think I just sit there and kind of go, 'Wow, I've got more time to throw than usual,' as opposed to I see some other players that maybe their initial read isn't open and bam, they're on the move, and they do a great job of that. I think there's a balance for both of those. Being in the pocket certainly has served me well, but I think also there are times I can definitely help our team more [by] extending plays and making the defense cover for a longer period of time than they typically cover. So I'm going to keep working at it.
Q:A lot of players at this stage in their career would resist change. Is that something that you've had to ramp down and think that maybe you don't want to be as mobile as you were in the 2003 Super Bowl?
TB:I think it's a challenge, and I think you try to accept those things. I think I'm excited about trying to make those changes as opposed to resistant because I realize how much it could help. I watch a lot of other players play and go, 'Man, I wish I could do some of those things that I just don't have the God-given ability to be able to do.' But I'm trying to improve it. There are things that I do that were God-given abilities for me that have worked really well, but I think it's a matter of balancing out and trying to find and continuing to add, whether it's throws on the run or whether it's extending plays or whether that's learning how to quarterback sneak – things like that that can become strong parts of your game. And I think for me, figuring out things that haven't been good that I'm trying to improve, I think that's definitely something that I want to be able to do to try to help our team score more points.
Q:It seems like the trajectory on your deep passes has been a lot higher this season. Is that perception accurate?
TB:I think we worked a lot on that, and there are mental and physical issues to that, too. Typically, when the ball is in the air longer, there's more of an opportunity for the defensive players to get to it. There are mental blocks that I've had about wanting the ball in the air for a long period of time. But yeah, that's definitely something we've worked on the last few years, and it seems to really be paying off also. The longer the ball is in the air your guy has a better opportunity to maybe track it and find it and make plays down the field. Sometimes you've got to squeeze it in; sometimes you've got to put a lot of air on it. I think, like I said, there's a balance to that, too.
Q:Is having confidence in your guys to be able to go up and get the ball a part of wanting to put more air under it?
TB:Absolutely, I think that's a big part of it. There is trust in all of us in every position, and that's a big part of football. That's why we practice so much. That's why we meet, we talk about the games, we talk about the things we need to do to make improvements. A lot of it is trust in each other to do the right thing and to do the best thing you can do on that particular play. When you throw it up and it's an opportunity for the defensive back to get it and your receiver, you've got to trust that your guy is not going to let anything bad happen because once it's out of your hands, there's nothing you can do about it. You're just trying to give your guy a chance to make it, and I think we've got some guys that have really done a great job in practice and in the games of going up and fighting for it and making sure they don't get their hands on it or even come down with it.
Q:Have the Bears historically been more of a ball hawking team because they seem to generate a lot of turnovers?
TB:They always do. It's kind of been a mark of their defense for a long time was stripping the ball out and getting the opponents, forcing them into some unforced errors. I know when we played them in 2006, they had some incredible record about getting the ball off opponents, and it's really continued. I think Charles Tillman, who isn't playing for them anymore, has more caused fumbles than any corner in the history of the NFL. [Lance] Briggs has a ton of them. They're obviously really coached well. They talk about it as a team, and you can see how they're a little bit ferocious when they get to the ball carrier and try to knock it out, strip it out and create opportunities for their offense.
Q:With how disruptive they are in the passing game, how can you simulate that in practice?
TB:Yeah, the scout team constantly puts pressure on the ball and trying to knock it out any part of the play or any part of the practice when the offensive skill player has it, trying to create some opportunities to knock it out and then get on top of it. We stress that a lot. The ball carriers are really conscious of it, and I think we've done a good job in our wins of protecting the ball, and we've got to continue to do a good job of that because there is no stat that correlates to winning more than turnovers. We're 5-0 this year when we haven't turned it over. We've got to continue to do a good job of taking care of the ball. And that's throwing it, not forcing it into coverage. It's also taking care of it in the pocket. It's also when we hand it to the backs, those guys do a great job of protecting it, receivers in their routes doing a great job of protecting the ball from the defenders. It's really a team effort.
Q:How do you look at your offense's progression? It's obviously not where you want it to be, but have you seen the improvement that you want to see?
TB:We're kind of cranking away. I'm not sure I'm ever really joyous to be around at this point, but I think we're all trying to make improvements and get better. I think we're still building. We're still a long way from where we want to be. I think we've done some good things the last few weeks, and we've got to continue to do those things. I'd say it starts with not turning the ball over, being better on third down, better in the red area, but that's got to continue. This is when football season starts to really feel like football season and the mental and physical toughness really start taking a toll. This is where you see what your team is all about.
Q:Do you remember that move you pulled on Brian Urlacher?
TB:Absolutely, I do. I think I had the benefit of having the ball in my hands, too. I kind of pumped it and he got a little off balance. Yeah, I think it still surprised a lot of guys on my team and surprised me, too. It probably surprised him.
Q:One more thing about that game was it was the first on artificial turf here at Gillette Stadium. That was eight years ago. Do you ever stop and think about how time has flown by?
TB:Yeah, I do that a lot. It goes fast. I remember before that game, we played the Jets in a rain storm, and the field really started off pretty crappy that year. I think there were a lot of concerts or something. The start of the year when we played Buffalo, it was like sand pit. The players were pretty excited to get better footing. I'm sure all the players now are probably more excited to have grass again. That's kind of the way it goes. A lot of teams have gone to field turf over the years. Maybe it provides better footing, but I think everyone really prefers natural grass.