Q: You put out a photo of your clean jersey on Instagram and tagged the offensive linemen. What are your thoughts on the way that group has played this postseason?
TB: I think they’ve performed incredible all year really. We really haven’t had many sacks this year and I think they’ve done such a great job protecting and the run game, I think that speaks for itself. That was just an incredible effort last week and we’re going to need it again because this group is obviously exceptional at that position. The d-line is certainly a great strength of theirs. We’ll be challenged. All those guys will be challenged. We’ll need those guys to play a great game.
Q: What’s it been like for you to work with Brian Hoyer this year?
TB: It’s really great. We’ve obviously had a long friendship and we’ve hit it off since he got here and then he left for a bunch of years and we always kept in touch. It’s just been great to have him back. I’ve always just really enjoyed my time with him. He’s got a great mannerism about him. He’s very positive. It’s really great for me to have him here because he’s always encouraging. He’s just a great teammate to have, not only his role in his position, he always just has a great understanding of what we do. I lean on him for a lot of things and he’s a great friend. He’ll always be a great friend. Obviously I love him being in that position.
Q: You said before you guys do throwing competitions and you hate losing to him.
TB: I do, and he beats me a lot unfortunately. He’s a great passer of the football and he’s good in any condition. He grew up in Ohio. He went to Saint Ignatius High School which is where my college roommate went, so I obviously knew a lot about Saint Ignatius and Brian going to Michigan State. There’s obviously a lot of connections and then he gets drafted here. He’s really a great person. He’s a great dad, a great family-man and again, I just love kind of hanging with him.
Q: Jason McCourty described your relationship with Julian Edelman as a “bromance” and said you guys have a nonverbal communication. Do you feel that’s a critical component to your relationship on the field?
TB: Yeah, we have a great relationship, Jules [Julian Edelman] and I, and I trust him so much. We’ve put in so many hours together in the meeting room, in the film room. I think obviously he and I go back a long way. Him going to CSM [College of San Mateo] and my relationship with Tom Martinez going back to CSM and then from Redwood City to Kent State, which is close to Michigan, and then drafted here, played receiver but he was a quarterback. He’s always been kind of like my little brother, in a good way. I don’t have a little brother but he’s kind of like a little brother and he knows how much I love him. What he’s done with his career has been incredible and he’s so impressive as a player, as a leader – to go from playing quarterback in college to receiver in the pros and then to become really a dominant receiver in the pros, I think speaks to his work ethic. I’m so happy in everything that he achieves and obviously I can’t say enough good things about Jules.
Q: There’s just two receivers in NFL postseason history with over 100 catches – Jerry Rice with 151 and Julian Edelman with 105. That’s a pretty outrageous number for someone who was a quarterback through college.
TB: Yeah, it’s really beyond incredible for Jules to do that. When you talk about Jerry Rice, that’s a guy that’s set every receiving record in the history of the NFL basically. For Jules to be right there as one of two guys including him, again it’s just such a credit to Jules. Look at his stature. He wasn’t built like Megatron [Calvin Johnson]. He’s just built the way he was built and I think he’s just worked so hard over the years to learn how to play receiver. I think his quarterback background’s probably helped him in terms of knowing where to be, knowing how to get open and knowing when the quarterback wants to get rid of the ball. He’s just done an incredible job.
Q: What keeps you motivated after all these years?
TB: I just love the competition and I love trying to improve and I think that’s what it comes down to. Every year has its challenges. It’s very different from my first year to now, things change obviously with yourself, team, personal situations, professional situations. I love competing, I love playing football. I think loving the game and trying to improve and be the best I can be for the team is great motivation for me and I’ve just always spoke about winning and that’s what I love to do. That’s why I’m here, that’s why this team has done such a great job. I think everyone here is just committed to winning and really doing whatever it takes to win whether that’s Julian [Edelman] moving from quarterback to receiver, whether that’s Mike Vrabel playing tight end for us or defensive players lead-blocking on the goal line or Troy Brown or Julian playing DB at different times – everyone just kind of does whatever it takes and that’s a great place to be.
Q: We’ve seen you use your eyes so effectively to move defensive players. Mechanically, how difficult is it to train the rest of your body not to be out of position to throw where you eventually want to when you’re not looking that way until the last moment?
TB: Yeah, it’s really a lot of years of repetitions and a lot of hours of thinking about drills and mechanics and so forth. I think at this point, so much is just that it would be really hard for me to change too much right now because I’ve had so many years and hours invested in my mechanics, fundamentals, footwork. There are little modifications you could probably make but for the most part. A lot of these things have just been drilled into me for so long by all my coaches from high school to college to this level. It’s just doing it and the more you do it, the better you get at it. Again, I said last week that part of doing it a lot is loving it, and if you don’t love it, you’re not going to work hard at it. Again, I’m just fortunate to love it and when you love it, you work hard at it and when you work hard at it, you can work every day at it and I think that’s been a great benefit for me in my life.
Q: It’s been a long season for Rex Burkhead with getting injured and working his way back. What’s it been like to have him down the stretch and be able to count on him?
TB: We had him last year and then I know he was a free agent and then we resigned him and I think everyone loves what he did for us last year and wanted more of it this year. I think he’s done it and he obviously dealt with a tough injury but Rex is a tough guy. We all have trust in him to do the right thing, make the right decision and just does a great job giving it to him, does a great job in blitz pickup, can play third-down back, he can be a first and second-down back, goal line runner, we split him out. I think that’s just a great credit to his skillset. He’s got a lot of the things that it takes to either run the ball inside and then obviously to run it outside and catch passes on the outside. He’s really a dynamic player and he’s just a tough matchup for a defense because he can be in a lot of different places and he’s obviously become a very dependable, consistent player for us. We love having him out there.
Q: Can you share a couple of the less obvious ways you’ve changed since you played the Rams in your first Super Bowl?
TB: In many ways I’m similar. I don’t think in the end that things are that different for me. That’s a tough question.
Q: Do you find yourself appreciating more? Maybe some maturity changes?
TB: Absolutely. Little more mature than what I used to be.
Q: Maybe a reflection of the enjoyment of the experience this time than when you were so young your first time in the Super Bowl?
TB: I was raised by a great mom and dad who were very important in my life, still are, and I think they taught me some really great lessons when I was a kid. My mom’s – I think some of you guys have met her – she’s probably the sweetest person I’ve ever met in my life. I get a lot from her. My dad is very loving, empathetic and I get a lot from him. My family, my sisters were very competitive growing up. I got a lot from them. And then just being a part of some really great teams, I learned a lot. My college experience was really good for me, challenging but great. I learned to grow up a lot, from a kid from California to grow up to be a kid in the Midwest and it was a different level of competition. And then to come to the pros and go be further away from California and to be away from there for 19 years – I was joking with Dante [Scarnecchia] and Ivan [Fears], I’ve been with them longer than I’ve been with my parents and with Coach [Bill] Belichick longer than that and Mr. [Robert] Kraft and so many people have been here for as long as I have and really this has become my home. I can’t say enough good things. I just love it and I love playing. Like I said, many of those things are still the same. I loved playing then, I still love playing now. I don’t take anything for granted, I really don’t. I enjoy it. I think we all work hard at it but to get to this point is really exceptional. I’m proud of the guys for making the commitment and it’s certainly not easy. I think everyone at this point is tired and worn down but at the same time, you have one of the great opportunities in your life. This is a memory you’ll have forever and I really hope we can go out and take advantage of it. The Rams have worked equally as hard. They’ve got a great team. They do well in all phases just like all the teams we’ve played in this game. It’s a very difficult game to win. I’m excited for it. I’m going to try to get as much rest as I can and try to go out and play our best game of the year when we need it the most.