PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
Q: You've had a number of receivers over the years that have come in mid-season and it's a difficult transition. What has Josh Gordon been able to do to integrate himself so well?
TB: I think he's done really everything the coaches have asked him to do. Here early, stays late, always getting extra reps at practice, takes as many reps as he can and it's been fun to see. So he's obviously done a great job for us. I think all the receivers are doing a great job in their role and we're just going to try to get better as we go.
Q: Is he kind of unique as a target with his size and some of the things that he brings to the table?
TB: Absolutely. I think just size and height, weight, speed. I think there's a mismatch - it's level with any DB that he's up against. We have a lot of confidence in him, what he's been able to do. I think, overall, like our confidence in our offense and production is getting better the more we work together. It's only been a certain amount of weeks since we've all been out there together and hopefully once everyone's back healthy, ready to go, it could be something that we're really proud of as we work toward getting better.
Q: What characteristics did Mike Vrabel have as a player that would help him be a good head coach in the NFL?
TB: I think he's a great person. He was a great teammate and I'm sure he's brought those things to the locker room. Just being a really mentally and physically tough player, and I'm sure he wants his players to be the same. They're playing hard and they have confidence as a team. They win different ways. Offensively, they've done great in some situational things. Defensively, they've played really well. And that's kind of what he's always been about, just getting the job done. He's definitely been someone that was an underdog his entire career but he was a great player and he's doing a great job as a coach.
Q: What do you remember about your hundreds of reps against Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan over the years in practice?
TB: Yeah, we had a lot. I really enjoyed playing with those guys and playing against them. They certainly challenged us on every play. They've gone on to have some really great contracts and I'm happy for them. They really earned it. I think when you're a great player, you get the opportunity to do that. I know we can't keep everybody but obviously happy for them and what they've accomplished. They were hugely impactful in what we were trying to do in the roles that they played. Logan was a great player, still is - incredible awareness and just such a smart player. And Malcolm, I've always loved playing against him and in practice, it was very competitive. He's a very competitive person. He wants to try to win every play and hopefully we can have a good plan against that entire defense. It's challenging because they've got really a good rush, some really good mix of linebackers and they're talented in the secondary. They spent quite a bit on the secondary and they have some really good players. [Kevin] Byard's a hell of a player, Adoree' Jackson's a first round pick. They've got a great secondary, best red area defense in the league. They make you earn it. There's nothing easy about this week for us.
Q: What are the advantages of playing a "3-4" team like the Titans and spreading them out?
TB: You're always looking for different matchups and so forth. I think part of what Josh [McDaniels] always tries to do is find matchups that we like. This is a tough one. They've got a lot of hybrid guys, similar to last week in a way. They kind of countered us with some different matchups and this week, I'm sure it'll be the same. I think there's some things that we always go into the game that just are a little bit unpredictable and I think with Dean [Pees] and Mike [Vrabel], they're going to be sure to have some different looks for us and we've got some different looks for them. That's part of the chess match that goes into these games. It's a good defense. Whatever we've got to do to move the ball down the field and score points, I'm cool with. Whether we bring everyone together, spread them out, we'll just see how the game plays out.
Q: You know better than everyone how hard it is to come back from an ACL injury. Are you impressed with how well Julian Edelman has performed?
TB: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Julian's been such a great player for our team. I think his mental and physical toughness are just unmatched in a lot of ways. I have so much confidence in him. He really does all the dirty work for us, you know? He's so scrappy and goes in there and blocks hard, catches balls over the middle. We put him in a lot of different positions and he always seems to come through for us. Battling what he's really had to battle and come back from is impressive in itself. There's a lot of guys that go through those injuries and don't come back the same and Julian, to me, looks the same as he's always looked.
Q: Regardless of the injury, do you have to be protective of a guy like that? When you're throwing over the middle, do you think about where you can throw safely to him?
TB: Yeah, I think that's part of my mindset. And I think about that a lot with a lot of our players. I'm never trying to throw them into places where they're going to get hit. I mean obviously if you throw it to the middle of the field, there's more bodies in there. But nothing that hopefully someone with a running start can have. But Julian certainly takes his fair share of hits. But that's just the nature of being in that position. But he's extremely tough. He's been very durable playing-wise, outside of his ACL and a couple of little things. But he's been out there a lot for us and, again, we have a lot of confidence in him as a player.
Q: Where do you feel you guys are as an offense right now and do you feel like you are close or there in terms of where you can be in your mind?
TB: I don't think we're there. Certainly not. I think we need some more time together. We need to be kind of battle-tested in these games. We've had a long run of practices but, again, there's been a lot of people that have been in and out. So when everyone's together, it's fun to kind of watch us go and watch us practice and see the different mismatches that we can get and different guys making plays. I think it's really fun. I think great offensive football is about different guys making plays in the roles that they have. So you've got explosive plays in the run game that have really helped us out this year at different times with Sony [Michel], James [White] has made a couple. Different guys making explosive pass plays - Hoges [Chris Hogan], Gronk [Rob Gronkowski], Josh [Gordon], Phillip [Dorsett] - but the more of those that we have, the harder it is to defend. They can't focus on any one person. If everyone's making plays, they've got to play honest defense and if they do that, then we've got to take advantage of that. So that's part of where we're at, is just trying to build week-to-week on what we're doing. Like I said, I don't think we're a finished product. We'll still keep working at it and I think part of it is just going out every day and pedal to the metal and trying to do the best we can do.
Q: Have there been times in your career where you've had the thought or realization that you're there as an offense or has it always been an effort to always to get a little bit better and improve?
TB: Well, there's a certain point you're going to reach. You're going to reach your potential. It's just a matter of how fast can you get to your potential. Any team where you have great players, you've got a lot of potential. But you've still got to go do it. It doesn't magically just happen. There's too many moving parts in football for things to just magically happen. So a lot of it is being on the practice field and working through game situations and communicating and correcting and then moving on from things that maybe we're just not doing consistently well. And then you end up going, 'You know what, screw that, we're not going to do it. We're going to do some other things that we've done consistently well.' And there does come a point where you do those certain things. But we're always going to try to reinvent what we're doing. Things that we do well, we're going to keep building on and things that we're not doing well, you try them maybe a different year or different players. We're still trying to figure those things out.
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