Tight End, Rob Gronkowski
Q: What is the sense of urgency for you guys right now?
RG: The sense of urgency I would say is the quick week. It's urgent to switch the page right away, which was yesterday, and just start focusing on Tampa Bay. You've got to do it quick. I mean this is a different week than any other week. We're playing like three days before Sunday on Thursday night. So you've got to turn the page, you've got to be prepared, you've got to lock it in and just do overtime right now.
Q: How do things change for you this week in terms of your approach and physical maintenance?
RG: It's definitely a challenge. It's tough to already play a game Sunday and then be ready again for the following Sunday. As I get older too I just see the difference too. Just to prepare for a Thursday night game is totally a lot different. You're on top of it right away. You've got to be on top of your body right away starting yesterday, maybe do some overtime extra stuff tonight but to be ready, to be prepared you've got to go full in this week. Then in the back of your head you've got some rest over the weekend. So just go full in getting ready for the game Thursday night and you'll be good.
Q: Devin McCourty said the other day that the defense is letting the offense down right now. How do you guys avoid pointing fingers at each other?
RG: I don't really see it like that. He must be feeling like that or something but we're a team. We go in as one and we come out as a team and we stick together. As offense we can always do better. We've just all got to stick as one and just keep on playing football, helping each other out. [If the] defense puts us in good position on a turnover, we've just got to finish the drive [or] something like that. So just play together.
Q: You said as you get older you can see the difference with your body after games. Does that mean you're better prepared now and have a better idea of how to get your body ready to go on a short week?
RG: I've played a couple Thursday night games too and everything. You really don't know how you're really going to feel, to tell you the truth, coming up Thursday night. You're just doing everything that you know, that you've had experience with in the past and to do everything to get yourself prepared.
Q: How frustrating are those offensive pass interference calls to you?
RG: It's a little inconsistent, that's the thing. If the consistency was there 100 percent then I'd be cool whatever it is. But one week we're told we can play [and] it really isn't going to be called. They can hold and you can slap off their hands and then the next week it's if you touch the guy it's a P.I. I just wish I knew the consistency so then I can base my game off that in practice and be prepared for the game and know the rules going in.
Q: Is there any ongoing conversation during the game?
RG: Yeah, sometimes once in a while for sure. You definitely want to be in communication with everyone out on the field and you definitely want to know too, before the game [and] during the game, because you're not trying to get penalties like that. It can stop the drive big time.
Q: Do you ever get to the point where you want to have a scouting report on the officials to see what their tendencies are?
RG: No, I mean Coach [Bill Belichick] kind of gives us good tendency of what the refs are going to be like that game which is always super helpful. But I mean they do a tremendous job though. To do what they're doing, I don't even really get that frustrated over the P.I. calls. It's just playing football. But it's a tough job out there. Just like us players, it's a tough job out there too. You've just got to go with the flow of the game every game.
Q: It's got to be frustrating when they start calling a game one way and then flip it either way - either less physical or more physical.
RG: I mean as long as you know what kind of game is going to be called from the beginning. My favorite time is when it's allowed to just be played. I can run, go full speed, the linebacker is ready for me, 'boom' we bump. It's just straight up football. Sometimes I feel like the game of football can get taken away. There's definitely [physicality] that's involved in getting open sometimes.
Q: It seems like when referees see your arm extend a little bit that's when the flags come out. Have you noticed defenders trying to give your arm a tug to get it extended out like that?
RG: I mean I've felt everything before. I don't know. It just depends on the game.
Q: What have you seen from these Tampa Bay linebackers?
RG: It's kind of similar to last week's. They're fast linebackers. They can play fast and kind of the same scheme too on the defensive side. So we've just got to be prepared and like I said, when you get the ball go north and south to get yardage.
Safety, Devin McCourty
Q: Do you and the defensive back unit feel a sense of urgency going into this game?
DM: Yeah, I mean, I think it's obviously a different kind of week because we can't get out there and full-speed practice and stuff with this short week. But, it's definitely a sense of urgency in every part that we can do, how we were able to walk through, jog through type of practice today, being on top of everything, watching film, talking about everything - I mean, it's a huge sense of urgency because we need to play well. It hasn't been good in four games, so I think we need the most sense of urgency out of the whole team, and I think we've had it. We had it today, and with a game like this, we need to continue it all the way until it's kickoff. It's going to be coming in tomorrow, meetings in the morning, but we need to stay at it all day tomorrow, all day leading up to the game Thursday. That's what these Thursday games are, though. It's not as much physical, but you have to get as much mental reps and watching film as possible. So, I think we understand that. Now we've just got to go do it this week.
Q: When you look at the defensive stats and where you stand against the rest of the league, what are you thinking?
DM: I mean, we played bad. To me, I wouldn't say we don't go off the stats. The most important stat to us is points, and we're last in points. So, that's what it comes down to. Our offense has scored more than enough points to win games. So obviously, to me, not every stat is important to winning, but the key stat is points. When you're last in that, there's a lot you need to do better defensively.
Q: Has there been more film study or talking as a defensive back group this week?
DM: That's all it's been. You know, that's all it's been. We were able to watch film in there. We just finished watching film. We were able to walk through before the walk through. So, I mean, one thing I know about here is when things aren't going right, we're not going to sit around and hope it gets better. We're going to attack it and do everything that we can to make it better. So, we've met, we've walked through, we've walked through again, so we've got to keep doing that and we've got to go play well [Thursday]. You know, we're not sitting around here talking about a team that's been kind of sitting around scratching our head for four weeks. We've been getting after it, we've been watching film, doing things - like we need to go play well on game day, too. That's a part of being a good football team and being good players is when it's time to go play and turn what you've practiced, what you've watched, into the game reality, we've got to go do that. To me, I'm anxious and excited about that part of it, too. I think we don't have a group that doesn't know hard work and wants to just come and just sit around. We have a hardworking group of guys, but it's time to show up and make plays and play better.
Q: You have been through some ups and downs before in your career. What does it usually take for the team to improve from a situation like this?
DM: You've just got to stick at it. I don't know - I mean, you guys would probably know better stats and stuff if we've been this bad through the first four games. We've had different struggles at times, like any team, but I think this is even new to me as far as the type of things and how we're playing and how the game is going, but you just have to keep playing through everything. Last year, we had some changes midway through when we let Jamie [Collins] go and traded him. We had to adjust, and the only thing we could do was just keep practicing and keep playing and keep pushing forward to get it turned around. To me, that's all I know. That's the only thing you can do is to keep working at it and keep doing things. If you're trying one thing and that's not working, try something else. We're going to continue to do that and keep trying to get it better. I think that we all know in the secondary that we have to get it better. It's the NFL. It's simple. You either get it better or you have to look for a new job, so I think we all understand that.
Q: The team has a great record of avoiding back-to-back losses, but can you rely on that trend as you move forward?
DM: No, not at all. I think you've got to go win football games. That's why we have that record because we go out there and work and you go win a game, but nobody in the NFL is going to sit there and say, 'You know, the Patriots don't lose back-to-back, so we've got to let them win this week.' We've just got to go out there and execute and go try to get a win, and now it's on the road, so that's going to make it even tougher on a short week.
Q: How does the team avoid pointing fingers at each other?
DM: It doesn't help. I think that's the biggest thing you understand, but I also think, as a responsibility as a player to your teammates, you've got to understand when you need to step up. I don't think that's pointing fingers when defensively we understand we've got to step up and do our part. I think the thing is we always preach here, 'Do your job.' We'll, you're not doing your job, no one is pointing their finger at you, but they're like, 'You're not doing your job and we need you to do your job to be successful.' So, I think the thing is we always talk about complementing each other, playing complementary football, and the offense can't really do that if we don't go get stops and do our part. So, more than pointing fingers, I just think it's us understanding our responsibility and doing it.
Q: When there is a breakdown on the field, do players feel they have to do more than their job to make up for it? Is that dangerous?
DM: Yeah, that's very dangerous. I mean, that's why we're meeting and that's why we're going over things so it doesn't turn into that where now a guy is unsure of what's going to happen, so he's trying to do this and that. That will never work. That's why it's always key - I know you guys always ask us Sunday after a game, 'What happened?' That's why Monday is so key of maybe the next team's not like that team, but maybe that comes back up later in the season or maybe it comes back up the next week. That's why it's important to go back and correct those things for that reason that you're talking about so we're not sitting and a guy's like, 'Dang, I remember this formation. We got this last week and I didn't know what was going to happen and I still don't.' That's why you want to go over it. It's like alright, we messed it up on this play, but the next time it comes up, let's get it right so everyone can still play fast.
Q: Were there any changes in how you practiced communication today, as opposed to prior weeks in practice?
DM: No, I mean, I think Bill [Belichick] says it best all the time: 'Communication is a two-way street.' One guy talks. One guy listens. I don't know many ways that you can do that any better. We have hand signals. We talk. When we talk, we have ways that guys know you got it by you confirming, so I mean, I don't know if there's many ways that we can change how we do that. Like I said earlier, it's about getting it and then just doing it.
Q: From your experience, how correctable do you think the breakdowns are?
DM: I think everything in football is correctable, especially if you have a group that you feel you have some good football players, and we have a talented group. So, I always think that's correctable. I think, you watch the NFL, you'll see teams that are last go to first. You see that all the time. It's because of this, but it comes from putting the time in and the work in. I sit here and say it's correctable, but it's up to us to correct it. It's not going to just correct itself. It's really on us of getting it done. I think we're on the right path, but like I always say, being on the right path, you don't know until you go out there and do it in the game. So, to me, that has to be our focus is go out there Thursday night, obviously go out there and try to get a win, but we need to play well.