TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
December 27, 2018
Q: Do you have any thoughts as to why the team struggles on the road, where you have a 3-5 record, but are undefeated at home?
RG: I mean, we know we are. We know that we have about five losses on the road, but we really never put any thought into it, like why we're 7-0 at home and we're 3-5 on the road. It just shows how tough it is to go play in the NFL, to go out and win a road game. I've been playing for a few years now and no doubt about it, going on the road is definitely tough in the NFL. But, it is what it is. You've just got to deal with it. We've got the Jets this week and we're home, so our main focus is on them and what we've got to do to beat them.
Q: Guys have talked about treating this like a playoff game. What is your thought process going into it, knowing that you want to go into the postseason on a high note?
RG: Yes, this is as close as it can get to a playoff game for us, as it is during the regular season. It's going to be a big game; definitely a huge one. Every time we play the Jets, no matter what, at their place or here, it's always a challenge mentally and physically. They're always bringing it. We've got to be ready and technically it's a playoff game; big time for us.
Q: Tom Brady recently said he plans to play in 2019. Have you given any thought to your future next year?
RG: I mean, I haven't been thinking about that at all. We're on the last game going into Week 17. We've got the Jets and that's all I'm really worried about as of now.
Q: Are you still enjoying football?
RG: Yeah, definitely. Today we had a good day today too. A lot of guys, we were goofing off, but at the same time we were getting out work done. Today was a good day.
Q: How much are you able to write off the past performance and work towards making your own script as you head into the postseason now?
RG: I mean, I basically say that every single week throughout the regular season because it's a one-week season every single week. You get a new start every single week too, and you get a new opponent, new challenges and you see how the NFL works. Every single week you see something different. You see someone up, someone down, a team up, a team down. You've just got to stay on the grind throughout the whole year and now it's coming to the crunch time. We're just treating this game like a playoff game. It's a one-and-done season and we've just got to keep working hard; a big game. We've got to focus on the Jets and that's what we're doing though. All of these other questions, "Is this a playoff game?" Yeah, we're treating it like a playoff game but we've got a big game ahead of us and it's the Jets and we've got to put our focus like we do every other week with this opponent.
Q: Is it nice to have the stability of Tom Brady at the quarterback position year after year?
RG: Yeah, I mean, that's huge to have that stability. But as a player, I mean, playing with him for nine years now, five years ago, four years ago we knew he would be at this point and we knew that he would be here playing at the top level of football, so it was never a worry, I would say. The stability has just been there throughout all of these years and don't see why it would change.
Q: What's it like going up against Jamal Adams in their secondary?
RG: Yeah, he's a good player. He's young. He goes hard. He's physical and he's always ready. He's definitely always ready, so you've got to be ready for that guy. He's playing hard. He knows how to time it up, get some big hits, hit the gaps in the run game. A guy like him, you've got to be prepared.
Q: Does it make you up your game a little bit when you're facing a safety like him?
RG: You've got to up your game versus anyone, whoever you're playing. You've got to be ready at all times, no matter who it is. But, going versus him you know he's going to be ready so you've got to be ready when you go versus him.
Q: What's the best part of the whole football experience for you at this point in your career?
RG: Being with the guys. I would say that's a lot of player's benefits, is just having a locker room, being around the guys, having good times, being out in practice, cracking some jokes, making plays. Just having that team bond, being with every one, is always something special.
Q: Do you still see it as your role to keep things fun while playing football? Is there still a value in keeping things light during the grind of the season?
RG: Yes, definitely. You've got to. It's a long season. You've got training camp, all of the regular season. You've got the preseason games. You've got all of that, so you've got to keep it light. You've got to enjoy your time and no matter how games go, up or down, you've just got to keep focused and keep it going, which we have been. I mean, we've been through a roller coaster, up and down throughout the whole season, and what you've got to do is just stay focused and keep on preparing and keep on mentally and physically just grinding and just keep going.
Q: Has this season been more challenging for you at any point?
RG: I mean, I would say every season presents a different challenge. You go through things, you get dinged up a little bit, it's a different challenge coming back from something, coming back from something different. Every season brings its own little challenges and you've just got to keep on grinding. You've got to keep on staying positive and you've got to just stay focused. That's all you've got to really do. You can't ever get too down. Then you just dig yourself a bigger hole; that's all.
Q: Do you ever get frustrated when the targets aren't coming your way?
RG: No, not at all. I know how this game works. I've been here for a while and it's a team game. I mean, if we run the ball 50 times, we run the ball 50 times. We've got to get that win. If we pass the ball 50 times then we pass the ball 50 times. It's all about the win, it's all about doing what you need to do to help out the team. If it's blocking, if it's catching 10 balls that game, if it's catching one ball that game, if it's blocking the whole game. No matter what it is, I'm going to go full speed and whatever the coaches ask me to do I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I feel like that's how it is with everyone around here, which is great.
Q: Would you like to play as long as Tom Brady plays?
RG: I mean, he's on like Year 20 and he's probably going to get to 30 years.
Q: I mean more in terms of would you like to play so long as he is continue to play himself, with both of you playing together?
RG: I mean, we haven't thought about that. I haven't thought about that. We've got this big game Sunday still and the playoffs after. That's the last thing that's on my mind right now. I love the grind. I'm all in. I've been all in all season no matter if it's been up, if it's been down, and I'm going to tell you this right now – I'm going to be all in for the rest of the year, no matter when it is, and that's just my main focus, no matter how it goes.
Q: With the playoffs right around the corner, do you view this as another potential confidence-building game for you?
RG: I mean, yeah. You can always build off of good things. You want to always have a good game and then you always want to build off the good game. This is just a big game, another preparation throughout the whole week and obviously try and go out there, do some stuff, make some plays and then go from there.
Q: How mentally challenging is it to come back during a season when you're on and off the injury report and the bumps and bruises add up over the course of 17 weeks?
RG: Yeah, I mean it's definitely a challenge. I would say that's probably 50 percent of it. I mean, yeah, you can have the physical tools and everything, but if you're not mentally there all the way then you're not going to be able to use the physical tools how you want to use them. Definitely, you've just got to stay positive. You learn a lot of things every single year about yourself as you get older about how you adapt to things. You just learn that you've got to stay positive. You can never get too down on yourself. I mean, yeah, you can get down on yourself a little bit to get you re-motivated and stuff, but I've learned. That has happened to me before – you get too down and you dig yourself a bigger hole. You've just got to stay balanced. It's a roller coaster season, as you guys have seen all year, but whenever things aren't going right you've just got to stay positive and keep going, keep doing what you need to do and you know you'll bounce back.
Q: When was there a time that you got too down on yourself?
RG: I don't know. I probably have before, but it's over. I'm back on the roller coaster, baby. I'm going. I'm here for the ride.
DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN McCOURTY
December 27, 2018
Q: Do you have any thoughts or explanation for being 7-0 at home and 3-5 on the road?
DM: Not really. At the end of the day, I would just say we didn't play well on the road. I think you can probably go through each game and there would be some similarities, some differences, but for whatever reason, we just didn't get it going on the road the way we needed to. Some of the games early in the season, it just was basically no contest and we lost basically the last two games – Miami and Pittsburgh, really were one play, one play changes the game. Some of that is football, some of it was just not getting off to a good start, but I think we've progressed throughout the season in kind of everything that we struggled with early in the season. So, it kind of sets us up to finish the season strong. I guess a good thing for us is it's at home. We'll be battle-tested and Sunday we'll get a great test from a young team that plays us tough every time we play them. We battled earlier in the season and it'll be the same way Sunday afternoon against the Jets.
Q: On the flip side, if everything goes right, you might not have to play another road game.
DM: Once we get to that part of the season, it doesn't matter your record home, away – none of that matters. We're at the point in the season where each time we win one game, we get a chance to play again the next week. So, it kind of starts this week, that kind of mentality. Beating the Jets and trying to get a win I think helps us going forward in our season, and then after that, each time we win, we get a chance to continue our season.
Q: Sam Darnold is young but has seemed to get better as the year has gone on. What makes him what he is now as opposed to at the beginning of the season?
DM: It seems like what everyone's been saying, it's just decision-making. Like you can watch him obviously and see arm strength, talent, everything's right there, but I think that the games since he's been back, I think it's seven touchdowns, one interception – like that's good football. I think when you watch him, you see if you get out of your pass rush lanes and no one's there, he'll run, he'll pick up a first down. But more than likely, he wants to move around if he has to, to find someone down the field. Obviously, you got a guy like Robby Anderson running past people – he has the strength to get it there. So, I think he just has the ability to do everything out there and like any of us when we were rookies, you start to understand it more. The game slows down each game you play, the more you play. So to me, you can see that with him. He's making more plays out there and it's tough to handle him now.
Q: Rob Gronkowski has been a teammate of yours for a long time and he just talked about the mental challenges he faces coming back from injuries. Having spent as much time around him as you have, what have you noticed about his approach when it comes to that sort of stuff, playing through things or coming back from things?
DM: I would say for a lot of guys, it's something to watch. We got drafted together. No matter what it was – forearm, knee – like he's always been in here grinding. I would say going though injury, if you needed someone to watch on how they prepare each day in practice whether he's on the side doing different exercises, like he's always doing something to try to get his body ready to practice and for the game. I think he's been a guy to watch and see what he does. He never complains about something hurting or not being able to do – like he just does what he can do and when he's coming back from an injury, usually it's a little more each day. Obviously, you guys see he's been one of the best tight ends since he entered the league. I think his leadership and how hard he works has stuck out more to guys in the locker room than I think people outside the building talk about.
Q: How have you seen his approach evolve since you guys came in together?
DM: I don't know, I think he's a lot like the way he's kind of been. I think he has this persona of like this party animal that's always out partying, but if you see him, like when he was young, he was always in the weight room, always lifting the heaviest weights – like he was a big meathead. So, he'll probably say he does less meathead things and more functional movement and things like that. He's still laughing, joking, he's still a kid, and I think that's good. I think it's good for the team to have guys like that in the locker room. Sometimes around here, things are hard, we practice hard and it's hard days. Bill [Belichick]'s not laughing often, so having guys like that helps in the locker room.
Q: What's impressed you about Chris Herndon?
DM: I would say his ability to get open and then catching the ball. You saw on the play against Green Bay last week, running down the middle, one-hand catches it, takes a hit. He's a guy that I would say not a lot of people probably talked about him being one of their best players coming into the season. But, you look at key moments, got-to-have it plays, they go to him and he gets open and he catches the ball a lot. He's definitely one of their guys that we've talked about this week of having to go out there and play well against. He's had great games going out there, making plays. It seems like with them being a little banged-up, him being out there for Sam Darnold will be a good kind of security blanket and a guy that they'll look to and game plan-wise to get vertical, get across the field. He does a lot of different things for them in the pass game.
Q: Earlier this week, Tom Brady said he absolutely believes he can play in 2019. Do you have any comment on that?
DM: I would say I plan to play in 2019, too.
Q: What's harder to do, play the Jets or get your family on the couch in pajamas and take a picture?
DM: If you saw the picture, it was rough.
Q: It was like three kids crying.
DM: The effort level though that I showed to take the picture, it probably could get better. Not great in picture-taking with the family. So, playing the Jets is still tougher though because I will walk away from the picture.
Q: Of all the upsides of having your brother Jason McCourty here, what was it like to be spending the holiday together? Did you get together on the actual holiday and how was it?
DM: Yeah, we hung out at his house and it was chaos.
Q: Good chaos or bad chaos?
DM: It's all in how you look at it. We all love our kids, but I wouldn't call that kind of good chaos. We have four kids running around and a baby crying. I guess the one good thing that helps is that he comes with himself and his wife so it's four extra eyes to look at the kids and you get to kind of sneak away every once in a while. We had basement duty for a part of the day with the kids and we just hung out. So, any time we get to hang out is fun.