Q: What’s the key to the Vikings pass rush?
TB: They’re pretty good. I think they rush really good with their front four, but they also have some real good scheme stuff, so you’ve got to prepare for both. Sometimes they look like they’re coming and they don’t, but you’ve still got to deal with their really good players up front. Sometimes they do come and you’ve got to deal with their linebackers or safeties. It’s a challenging defense. They’ve been really good for a long time, since Coach [Mike] Zimmer’s – really, since he’s been in the league. It’s a big challenge. Good in the red area, good on third down, been top ranked for a long time, so we’ve got our hands full.
Q: You were talking to Jim Gray earlier in the week about some of the things that you’re dealing with physically and how everyone across the league is dealing with things. Do you feel like you’re limited in any way, shape or form as you get ready for the Vikings?
TB: No, I feel like I’m ready to go. I’m excited for the game. It’s a big game for us, big game for them. But, I feel good. I think everyone’s dealing with different things, but I’m able to go out there and play and hopefully play well.
Q: Have you been able to manage those aches and pains and bruises better in the second half of your career than you were in the first?
TB: I haven’t missed many games by injury over the course of my career, so I think early on, it was probably being pretty naive. I think the second half of my career’s probably been a little smarter. So those two things have worked well at different times.
Q: Age equals wisdom, right?
TB: Yeah, absolutely. I certainly have the age part and the wisdom I’m working on. But, yeah, it’s just dealing with different things and everyone’s dealing with something. It’s been a long season.
Q: We saw you post on Instagram about a guy who lost everything in the California fires but he saved your jersey. When you saw that, what did that mean to you?
TB: Yeah, that was pretty cool, pretty touching. You think about the effect that you can have on certain people, not just in this part of the country but in California. I know we got a hold of him and [I am] going to send him something. But, it’s a tough situation I think everyone out in California was dealing with. Those fires were crazy and they certainly need a lot of help.
Q: When you saw the picture, what went through your head?
TB: It was pretty touching. I think you just feel the pain but also you know that they could grab something – but I mean, I can’t imagine losing my house and everything I own. That would be very difficult. Whether it was the floods in Houston last year which were really tough – I mean these natural disasters, for a lot of these people dealing with real life, I think it puts a lot of stuff in perspective in your life. You lose a game and you feel like, ‘Man, the whole world’s caving in,’ but it’s really – keeping things in perspective, you realize there’s a lot of people dealing with a lot of things that are very tough. And just to be able to provide support, I think for us as athletes, is pretty cool and important in what we do.
Q: Are you going to send a ball to him, is that the plan?
TB: Yeah, send him a ball.
Q: You also told Jim Gray that you’re going to continue wearing your old helmet this season. What is about the helmet that works so much better for you than the new ones you’ve tried out?
TB: I don’t know, it works pretty good. I like the fit, I like the feel, the weight, it’s comfortable. So yeah, it’s just a good helmet.
Q: What happens if they don’t let you continue wearing it?
TB: I don’t know – standoff. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.
Q: Your record in December is pretty unmatched. What do you attribute that to? Is it that you understand your team better or the urgency has picked up?
TB: I think we understand our team and I think we understand the other teams better. I think just the mark of a good team is one that improves as the season goes. I don’t think we ever take the foot off the pedal. We’re trying to play well in December. This is when all these games – they all count the same but you know, this time of year, you’ve got to be playing your best, and I think that’s what we all realize. And we’re playing against a really good team, so I think there’s just going to be no margin of error for us on Sunday. They’ve got a good defense, they’ve got a very high-scoring offense, good in the kicking game, so it’s a good matchup.
Q: Cordarrelle Patterson is in his first year here. What has he brought you guys?
TB: He’s been great – great attitude, great teammate. What we’ve asked him to do, both as a receiver, returner and then play running back at different times – he’s just a great football player. I think however he can impact the team – gaining yards whether it’s the kick game, pass game, run game – he’s willing to do it. We gave him the ball, he tried to jump over the top of the line of scrimmage last week on the goal line which was a great play, was really close to getting in but just a little short. He’s just been a great player, great influence for the locker room, just a great, positive person. He has a lot of fun and loves playing football.
Q: Do you call him ‘Flash?’ Did you call him that after one game?
TB: ‘The Experiment,’ that’s what I call him.
Q: You call him ‘the Experiment?’
TB: I call him ‘the Experiment.’
TB: Just because he can do it all. We’re all just trying new things with him. I just love what he does.
Q: Bill Belichick said earlier today that he’s learned a lot from you as a football coach. Has it been valuable to you to have your voice heard in those situations and that you’re been able to play off each other?
TB: Yeah, I think I feel the same way. I learn from certainly him, the role he’s asked me to play. I always learn from him and what he’s teaching and coaching, and it’s really been that way since I’ve got here. I got to be around him a lot when I was younger, really as coaching us as quarterbacks when he would teach us a lot about defense. It was just a great introduction for me in the NFL, to have Coach Belichick really teach me how to read defenses, how to study defenses, how to understand defensive players and not a lot of players have the luxury of having that. I’m very, very grateful and I’ve learned from all the coaches. I feel like everyone can offer a lot to me and I’ll take as much wisdom as they have. The more information I get, the better it usually is.
Q: Are you still learning new things that way?
TB: Yeah, I mean, football you never master. It’s a chess match and there’s always different things. Every year’s a little bit different so you’re learning every year, every day, every walkthrough, every meeting, different things. And sometimes you’ve got to forget them and then you re-learn them. That’s just the way it goes.