Q: What would you say is the reason for the team’s issues in Miami?
TB: That’s a great way to start. [laughter]
Q: Is there something that you can pinpoint?
TB: Well, I think they play well and we don’t. But the reality is, none of that stuff matters. This week it’s really this team against that team and we’re going to have to play well. They play good at home – they’re 5-1. They’ve got a good defense. So we’ve got a big challenge, should be fun.
Q: Last year preparing for this game, you practiced inside and turned up the heat. This week, you’ve been outside. How much is that a factor in getting you guys ready for the conditions that you’re going to be playing in?
TB: Yeah, we’ve done a bunch of different things over the years. We’ve gone down there on Friday, Thursday nights and practice is on a Friday, gone down there on Friday night after practice and stayed there Saturday. It’s just really about playing good when it comes down to it, and there’s no magic formula for that. It’s just going to take us playing a great game of football. There’s a lot on the line for both teams. It’s a tough place to play obviously, but it’s a good challenge for us, too.
Q: Along those lines, it’s an opportunity for you guys to win the division if you win down there.
TB: Yeah, that’d be pretty sweet. Obviously, trying to win the division is a great step and this will really allow us to do that. They’re going to really challenge us. It’s going to be a physical game – they’ve been talking about that. I know we’re prepared for just having the right mindset to go down there and play a real great complementary game. There’s no one phase of our team that’s going to win it. They’ve got a good offense, they play well defensively down there and we’re going to have to do a good job taking care of the ball and see if we can go make a bunch of good plays, string together a bunch of those and move the ball down the field and score some points.
Q: Is it harder for you to play there than it is for them to play here? Because they haven’t played well here either.
TB: Yeah, when you look at those stats it is pretty interesting the way some of those teams from the south come up and play in the north and the north play in the south and there’s got to be something to it. But again, it just comes down to playing good football. We’ve had some great games down there, too, and hopefully this is a great game for us. But we’ve got to go earn it. That’s certainly the case here.
Q: Do you believe in the idea of an offense finding its identity as the season goes on? If so, do you think you are close to that now in terms of guys being available?
TB: Yeah, I think that’s always the case. As you go, you just learn more about yourself, and you’d really think that you knew everything in August, but you really don’t. You’ve got to keep working hard through September, October, November to get to this point. I know we’ve talked about that a lot over the years is just trying to get better as the season goes and establish a little bit more of your identity in the things we’re good at, the things that maybe we’re not so good at, because every year changes and there’s different players, different opponents, matchups, just a lot of different things take place over the course of the season. It’s just good to be at this point with a great opportunity for us. This is a big game for us, like I said, because it’s going against a division opponent on the road. It’s as big as they get.
Q: Do you have any memories from that first win in Miami, the overtime pass to Troy Brown? One of the more memorable games from your career?
TB: Yeah, that was pretty sweet. It was a great game, great win. Troy was not the intended receiver on the play – it was kind of a toss play. I was supposed to throw it to the backside slant, but I remember the coverage kind of rotated that way and Troy was running a slant on the other side and just kept running and I saw him and just chucked it up there, he caught it and we celebrated. It was just a great celebration. I remember the bus ride leaving was pretty cool. We were flipping people off and it was out of control. We hadn’t won there in so long, you thought we won five Super Bowls in a row. It was pretty fun.
Q: Bill Belichick was pretty happy after that one too. Do you recall ever seeing him as happy? He was really celebrating.
TB: Yeah, we all were. That was a pretty special day. There was a long history of us playing a lot of bad football games down there and that kind of broke that a little bit, not that it’s been stellar, but at least that one got us out of the basement.
Q: How much have you guys talked about or used the recent struggles in Miami as a motivation to sharpen your focus and preparation?
TB: I think it’s just that it’s got to be a mindset. When you play, that’s the place where we go – Buffalo’s here, the Jets are here and Miami’s the one that’s a little bit different for us always. I think just playing down there has its challenges. Every team kind of has its challenges going down there, and like I said, they play well at home. I think they use that climate as a benefit to them, just like we use ours as a benefit to us. We’re out there practicing, we’re used to – I know exactly how many layers I need to put on per degree, how many heat packs I need and that’s just the way it is. I’m sure they do the same. Us going down there and playing good football – ultimately that’s the opponent is the Dolphins and not the climate. Playing a good football game is definitely what this week’s about for us and we can’t expect to go out there and play less than our best and win. We should be playing our best – it’s that time of year.
Q: How do you see Rob Gronkowski influencing defenses and coverages? Josh McDaniels told us this week that there are a lot of times where he’s taking coverage elsewhere and opening things up for other players?
TB: Definitely. Any time that he’s out there, I have so much confidence in everything he does. If they don’t cover him, he gets it. If they cover him, it gives other people opportunity. Our offense the other night was a lot of different guys getting it, and that’s a good way to play offense. Run it, pass it, inside, outside, deep, short, middle, perimeter – that’s a good style for us. Hopefully we can just keep that going.
Q: Josh Gordon said yesterday his conditioning is much better than when he first got here. What does that allow you guys to do as an offense?
TB: Yeah, I think that’s an important part of football. For that position, especially the receiver position, they’re tracking down the field and back – and especially that position where he’s got a lot of down the field plays whether he’s getting it or not. So, just that’s a year-round exercise for a lot of those guys and I know it sucks when you’re not feeling like you’d like. Those guys have worked hard, I think they’re all in great shape and hopefully we can use that to our advantage.
Q: There are only a handful of quarterbacks who have played until they’re 41 like you have. How are you feeling now that we’re into December relative to this point last year?
TB: I feel good, I feel great. I’ve got no complaints. Ready to go.