The Patriots’ starting offense has received a lot of positive buzz over the past week, first for their crisp execution in a couple of practices against the Eagles and then by producing touchdowns on their first two drives of Friday night’s preseason opener.
But Tom Brady, appearing Monday morning on WEEI, wants to pump the brakes a little bit on the hype train. He said the Patriots’ offense is far from being a finished product at this point.
“Football is too challenging to think that you can have it all figured out,” he told the Dennis and Callahan show. “You certainly don’t want to be peaking the first week of August. It’s a constant building process. You’re still learning who your team is, the depth and quality of your team, through October and November. We’re so far from where we’re going to be. We’re teeing off on the first hole. We’ve got a lot more to go.”
Brady completed 7-of-8 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles, and in practice appears to be developing a nice rapport with some of his new receivers, including Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. He said it’s simply a product of a lot of hard work.
“We’ve been putting a lot of time in with practice time, post-practice time, with the walkthroughs and the film room, really make it a crash course in getting up to speed at the quarterback/receiver position,” Brady said. “We’ve had turnover at the receiver position and the tight end position. That’s part of what happens in the NFL every single year. You’ve got to be able to adjust and take what people may perceive as not really a strength of ours and make it a strength.”
Brady said he and Amendola have had “constant communication.”
“It’s been really fun. … He and I have had a lot of conversations about football,” Brady said. “We’ve seen games together. It’s just been constant communication between the two of us. You really need to be able to anticipate what each other is going to do.”
But Brady seems to be most proud of the Patriots’ ability to run the ball against the Eagles on Friday – 31 times for 248 yards (8.0 average). On their opening drive, the Patriots moved 80 yards for a touchdown without calling a passing play. The Pats are known as a passing team, but finished seventh in the NFL in rushing yards last year and first in rushing touchdowns (25).
“To be able to run the ball in on the first series was a great feeling, gratifying for everybody,” Brady said. “Offensive football and being tough and aggressive starts with running the football. … We ran it pretty well all night. We’re going to need to continue to do that. Running the football is so critical to the success of your team, so critical to the toughness – especially running it when they know you’re going to run it. You can’t play finesse 7-on-7 type football in the NFL and expect to win on a consistent basis. It’s just too hard.”
Brady also said his body feels better now at 36 than he did at 27.
“The biggest difference is I feel better now than I used to feel. That’s the encouraging part,” he said. “I don’t buy into the fact that as you get older you’re just going to have to feel crappy for the rest of your life. I try to live my life, take what I’ve lived over the years, apply that to my everyday living so that I can wake up, feel good in the morning and be excited about going to work.”
“It’s really a lifestyle decision. There’s certain steps that work for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute that at some point to some other athletes and younger players. That’s actually something I feel really strongly about, because I do see so many athletes that say the exact same thing that you just said: ‘I’m older so I’m going to start feeling like crap.’ I haven’t had that experience. I’d love to be able to share that message with other people as well.”
But Brady downplayed the claim he supposedly made in Men’s Health magazine that he wants to play until 50.
“I’m not sure I quite said I would play until I was 50,” he said. “I love the game. I love playing. I love the preparation. I love being around my teammates. … I’ve been fortunate to play for Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Jonathan and the Kraft family, I’ve played under Coach Belichick. … I couldn’t have asked for a better career and experience than I’ve had here. I hope it doesn’t end soon.”Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin