PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
Q: What are your overall thoughts on the Jaguars defense and the challenge they present to you this week?
TB: It's pretty tough. They were a great team last year and gave us everything we could handle into the championship game, and they're at it again this year. They've got the same players, similar scheme - I mean, as good as any defense we'll face all year. They've got an incredible rush, great linebackers, great secondary. It's going to be very challenging, tough environment and we'll see what we're made of.
Q: Since the first week of training camp, the Patriots have made 20 wide receiver transactions. How challenging has it been to have that many moves at that position?
TB: You know, you're always faced with something. I think we all try to do a good job of just focusing on what our role is and what our job is and try to bring the best we can every day, regardless of who's out there. So, those guys are working hard. Everyone wants production at every part of our skill position on offense. You know, the receiver position is very critical. I would say it's not a very easy position to learn in our offense. There's a lot of terminology. There's a lot of high expectations to perform at a very high level. So, you know, it kind of is what it is and we'll just make the most of it.
Q: You've often talked about the trust you have to have with all of the receivers. With Rob Gronkowski, has that trust reached the highest level that you could really ask for?
TB: Yeah, I mean, we're always working on different things and routes, and every year you change and evolve. I think part of it is just playing together as long as we have and as many opportunities to grow from experience that we've had on the field are really important. It's helpful for everybody. You know, it's just a lot of times being out there and kind of seeing how things go and making corrections and learning from them and recall. We, after practice today, were working on some things. So, it is - it's trust, it's dependability and then it's ability to execute under pressure when it matters the most, and I think that's how you gain it from your fellow teammates, but how you gain it from the coaches, too. And the coaches want to put the best players in the positions to succeed, as well. So, that's what we're trying to do all year. And the more guys that are dependable and consistent, the better the team is, and I think that's a process. That's what we're always trying to work on.
Q: Jalen Ramsey had a lot to say about various quarterbacks around the league, and he said you "don't suck." How does that feel?
TB: To not suck? I never want to suck, so I don't want to be in that category.
Q: Before the AFC Championship game, you guys may have been jawing at each other a little bit. Do you expect similar fire on Sunday?
TB: It's going to be an emotional environment. I think everyone, whenever you play some of the best teams, you want to see where you're measured up to, and that defense has been ranked very high all last year, and I could see why. We practiced against them. They were very good. They've got a lot of very talented players - some of the guys that are probably the best at their position. So, it's going to be a great environment for football - 4:30 game, so everyone's going to be watching. It should be a really great game for us to go out and see what we're made of.
Q: How do you avoid getting caught up in those on-field emotions when you want to stay even-keeled but they're probably using trash talking to raise their own game?
TB: Yeah, I think it raises everybody's game as long as it doesn't get to the point where you do something stupid. I mean, I think emotion in football is critical, and I think you have to have the energy and emotion. Because, I mean, it's a game of poise certainly, but it's also a game of just cutting it loose, and that's got to be a lot of confidence, a lot of trust in the people that are next to you so you can go be really free of what you're doing to go play a very anticipatory sport. So, you just can't wait for things to happen. If you wait for it to happen, it's too late. You've always got to anticipate, and playing with energy and enthusiasm are all part of the game.
Q: For Ramsey to come out and trash talk Gronkowski, how does that play out leading up to the game?
TB: I think it just depends. It depends.
Q: What do you think of Ramsey as a player?
TB: He's a great player. I mean, he's a great player. Yeah, he's very talented - big, fast, very rare talents, rare abilities, size, speed. They match him up with the top receiver from time-to-time, and he holds his own versus everybody. So, he's a great young player.
Q: What have you noticed about Phillip Dorsett's development from a year ago until now?
TB: Well, we got him basically at the end of training camp last year, so I think that's a tough position to be in and it's hard to really contribute a lot when you don't have the confidence to know what you should really do. He did the best he could all year, and he was out there as often as he can. He battled through some things and made some real critical plays when we needed them, made a real critical play in the AFC Championship game on the flea flicker and then played almost the whole Super Bowl - whatever, two-and-a-half quarters. So, he's done a great job and he continues to do the right thing, be in the right place, be out there every day, be available and just gain trust from his teammates and his coaches.
Q: After the game last week, you were critical of the offense and saying there's a lot of work to do. After watching the film, were there more bright spots than you first thought when you came off the field?
TB: Well, I think it's great to get the win. I mean, that's what we're trying to do. I don't think you'd expect to be perfect out there. You just have to be better than the other team, especially early in the year, because you really don't know what you're made of, you don't know really what the other teams are made of, you haven't been able to study too much. It's a very small sample size. So, I mean, I know we're going to be correcting things all the way till the end of the season, but the more things we can do consistently well, I mean, I think the more we're going to produce. And the better we produce, the more points we score. The more points we score, the better chance we have to win. So, that's where it comes from for me.
PATRIOTS TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
Q: Any conversations with Jalen Ramsey this week?
RG: No, I don't have his number and he doesn't have mine.
Q: What are your thoughts about him saying stuff about you?
RG: I mean, if that's how he feels, that's how he feels. It's a big game this Sunday, we're playing them. I'm sure I'm going to have opportunities to go versus him. I'm sure he's going to have opportunities to go versus me. I'm just preparing like I always prepare. I've got to just do my job out on the field, just worry about that.
Q: Does that motivate you?
RG: For sure. There's always motivation you're looking for. It does and it doesn't. So, that's tricky right there - doesn't give you the answer you're looking for. That was a trick question - you were trying to get me to say something, right? But, it does and it doesn't, you know what I mean? Because it motivates you to hear that. Obviously, there's something out there that he saw on film and stuff that I can probably get better at football in some certain categories. You don't always feel the best every single day when you're out on the field, so if that's how he feels, that's how he feels.
Q: Do you have to prepare for them baiting you into more words and 15-yard penalties?
RG: Oh, definitely during the game on the field. There can always be talking going back and forth, tempers getting heated up and everything. You just got to keep your cool, and I don't see any benefit to getting a 15-yard penalty out on the field because you lose your cool. So, you've just got to keep your cool and keep your head on straight.
Q: Is that part of it? Do you think it's mind games, like he's trying to mess with your head?
RG: I'm not sure. I'm not down there. I'm not on the Jacksonville squad. It could be, and I've seen that done before. I've had players on my team before where they just get in people's heads and they react and then they get the 15-yard penalty, so you've just got to keep your head straight, keep your cool and just play ball.
Q: One of the things he said is that when you face an elite corner, your catch percentage goes down from 71 percent to 56 percent. What do you think about that?
RG: That's some good percentages still. I mean, I don't really go into statistics like that. I've just got to play ball. That's basically all. I've got to come out and play ball.
Q: Do you like it when someone starts it up a little bit? Do you enjoy the added level of competition?
RG: Depending on game, depending on atmosphere and I'm sure one of these games will probably be like that. There's some times you enjoy it, some times you really don't think it's necessary, but I feel like this game, you've got to keep your head on a swivel and be ready at all times and be ready for anything.
Q: How good are guys like Myles Jack and Telvin Smith at being able to affect the offense?
RG: Their linebackers are fast and they can get to the ball, they can cover and you've got to be ready at all times. They've got a little different style of play with how fast they are. It's usually not typical to see guys that are that fast in the middle of the field, but they are and got to be prepared for it.
Q: If somebody engages you in talk on the field, will you talk back?
RG: You're allowed to talk smack back and forth out there on the field, but no, I'm not trying to get a 15-yard penalty for overdoing it or anything. That's not one of my goals. I would say it's not a team goal at all. But, you've got protect yourself, you've got to protect your teammates and you've got to stand up for yourself when it comes to that time.
Q: What level of trash-talker is Tom Brady?
RG: One out of 10.
Q: That low?
RG: Yeah, right?
Q: He's not good?
RG: He's focused always. He gets going sometimes out on the field, I've seen him. Depending on the game, depending on the situation, where he is compared to the defensive players. He hands off the ball, he's 10 yards back, so it's not like he can really get after it. I would say usually on his QB sneaks is when he talks trash if he does.
Q: Can you talk about the importance of taking care of the football against this Jacksonville defense?
RG: It's very important. I didn't do that good of a job last week and definitely can focus on that this week in practice, just throughout the week and ball security is huge. I think they get a turnover one out of every five possessions they average. That statistic right there is unbelievable. It just shows how good of a defense they are, and you can't just go out there and just jog around. You've got to be ready in all parts of the game - run game, pass game. When you have the ball, you've got to protect it and get up the field.
Q: One of Jalen Ramsey's criticisms of you is your struggle against corners. Do you have a preference to who covers you?
RG: I like going versus D-lineman, not in the blocking game, but when they drop in the passing game.
Q: Linebackers would be your second preference?
Q: Then corners?
Q: Do you remember the first time someone trash-talked you?
RG: Oh, I got it all the time when I was younger. It's just part of the game. It's part of being an athlete. There's opportunities you can take in it and take advantage of it and there's other times where if you take it the wrong way, you can lose your cool and it can go the opposite way and hurt your team. I've just got to keep doing what I've got to do and keep doing my job.
Q: Do you think Jalen Ramsey is the best trash-talker in the NFL?
RG: There's a lot of good trash-talkers in the league but I'll put him right up there for sure.
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