You mentioned teams focusing on Randy. Would you like to see him more involved on a more consistent basis, and what has to happen in order to make that happen?
Brady: "Yeah, you know, he’s a great player for us and it’s obvious. There’s not many guys – on that first catch he had the other day – there’s not many guys in the league that can do that. It’s really a rare talent that he has. It’s unfortunate we don’t make those plays there in the second half that we need to, but we’re going to need to. I think that’s really what I take from that. When you get the ball to him, he’s getting down the field like that, really putting pressure on those safeties where he really has some good matchups, he’s able to make those big plays. When we do that, then things go pretty well for us."
Obviously in the last few weeks you guys have missed on a couple of deep balls. Can you talk a little bit about everything that goes into it? I assume that they are lower percentage throws, but is there something else that goes into it? Missing with Randy Moss is one thing, but missing with Sam Aiken, is it maybe a timing thing you need to work through?
Brady: "No. It’s more just [when] you take a three-point shot, it’s not like a slam dunk. At times you’re right, you’ve got to hit those plays when they’re there and you have the opportunity. You don’t get that opportunity very often, so when you do throw them, you’ve got to make the plays. It’s frustrating when you don’t and you look back on the game and you lose by two points or one point or five points and you miss some of those, which are really game changers. That’s something that’s been a little bit frustrating for all of us. I know the coaches are frustrated when he calls it and he’s open and I miss it. So it’s something I definitely have to do a better job of."
In four of the five losses you guys were leading at halftime. Are defenses doing something differently to you in the second half?
Brady: "Well, I think every team has different philosophies when they’re down and when they need to put pressure on the offense. They did put some pressure on us in different ways and obviously over the second half of the game you kind of see how the game is being played and they say, ‘OK this is what we’re going to do to stop them.’ And I think a lot of it, too, is poor execution by us, poor execution by our offense and not really doing the things that we’re able to do. You’ve got to understand that this is the way it’s going to be. If you’re up by 10 points, or 11 points, or 13 points, they’re going to put pressure on you and we have to go out there and kind of match that level of intensity and aggressiveness that they have and still get the ball to the guys who are making the plays for us that day."
How much of a leadership void is there with the loss of Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, in terms of what you have to do as far as policing the locker room, discipline, and preparation?
Brady: "Coach Belichick always does a good job of policing the locker room and so forth. He’s tough on all of us and he has really high expectations for all of us, so even those players you alluded to, they were great players for us and they’ve moved on and we’ve moved on. We’ve had quite a different experience with this year’s team. You’re right, we’re finding ways [for] leadership, and practicing and walkthroughs and all of these things that are really critical to the success of the team that we have to really find ways to put more into it. When you’re 7-5, you’re obviously not doing everything right, so what you are doing, if you continue to do it, you’re going to get a lot of the same, which is pretty average. I always think there’s only one way to do it, which is to put more into it and to put everything into it and I think that’s the commitment that the leadership makes to the team and younger guys – they buy in, too. And everybody collectively comes together to put whatever you have left into it."
Given that, are you surprised that four of your teammates didn’t make it here in time for the 8:00 meeting and were sent home by your coaches?
Brady: "You guys find out everything these days. That’s coach’s decision. And the guys that are here … I’ve got to do my job. I’ve got plenty of things to do. Like I said, I’ve got to show up every day and bring whatever I have – the energy and the leadership that I have – to this team, because that’s what all those guys [do]. That’s what our job is."
After the last game you talked about overcoming adversity and showing fight, and you said that you think sometimes the team shows fight and sometimes it doesn’t. Do you think that is something the team can get in the last four weeks, or is that something that would have to be there by now to happen?
Brady: "Well, I think a lot of it, you know, you’ve got to bring awareness to what we, as leaders, and what our coach thinks are issues on the team – issues that we face as a team, individually, collectively. It’s not about playing hard on Sundays. I mean, we do that. That’s three hours a week that you have to show up and really commit yourself to. I don’t think that’s too much to ask of anybody and guys do that. It’s not like we think we’re not fighting out there in the game. I think what coach tells us and what I was alluding to was probably more of just the other six days of the week. We’ve got to make the commitment to each other. And if it’s Monday and it’s Tuesday and coach wants us to come in on Monday and work or stay for a two-and-a-half-hour practice on Wednesday and Thursday, then with no bitching and complaining, just doing the job. I think at times we all feel a little bit sorry for ourselves an you’re beat up and you’re tired and you’re sore and it’s the end of the year and you go, ‘Why is he doing this?’ But in the end, you’re either gaining ground on a team or you’re losing ground, and I always prefer to be gaining ground and getting ahead and staying ahead over the course of the week through walkthroughs, through meetings, through post-practice film, through you’re film study on Tuesday, through all of the treatment that you’ve got to do. There’s a lot that goes into it. I think that if we can keep adding that 10 percent, 20 percent, whatever it may be – probably everyone’s got to look at themselves differently. I know what I need to add, and that’s obviously what I need to commit to do for myself and for this team."
So how is your confidence level that this team can get where it needs to go in a short period of time?
Brady: "I always have a lot of confidence. I mean, we’ve seen all these teams this year. It’s not like I sit here and say, ‘God, I really hope we don’t play those guys again.’ I mean, you’d love to get another shot at all the teams we’ve lost to. If that happens, who knows, but I know that this opponent this week has its own set of challenges that the guys come in today and are working hard to understand. We always build confidence throughout the week; we practice well, we practice hard and that’s what it takes. Ultimately, there’s only one way to do it and that’s to do it better on Sunday. You can do all of the stuff throughout the course of the week, but you have to do it on Sunday as well. The preparation leading up to Sunday, that’s extremely important."
Have you been able to put your finger on one particular reason why you guys aren’t playing well this year with a lead, especially in the fourth quarter, offensively?
Brady: "I don’t know. I don’t know. Like I said, we work on it, we talk about it. It’s definitely a focus of what we’re doing. Like I said, even last week, we lost the game – that’s what it comes down to. If you win the game, there’re a lot of things that kind of get swept under the rug, but when you lose, everything comes to light. You’re right, those second half leads are important, and you need to be able to make those critical plays [that] we haven’t been making. There’s only one way to get better and that’s to get better at them and that’s to work on them, work harder and put more pressure on us. Our coach puts more pressure on us, and that’s something that is definitely something we think about pretty often."
Just for the record, was your son born last night or this morning?
Brady: "He was born yesterday."
How would you assess your season – yourself – up to this point, after coming back from knee injury and getting your legs under you, and now here we are with four games left?
Brady: "It’s kind of the fourth quarter of the season and hopefully all of the work – and you know I hate to talk about myself because it’s not about what I do. It’s about what we need to do. Obviously I need to play better. When you’re 7-5, you don’t have a lot of good feelings about much, especially with some of the teams that I’ve been on and the kind of expectations that we have. I have to play my best football down the stretch and there’s a lot of football left to play and there’re a lot of teams that are really in the same boat as us, where the season is really up to us and what we do here in these last four weeks. I mean, there’s nothing figured out at this point. There are playoff races, but there are no seed – there’s none of that. What we need to do is win this week. Two straight losses, that’s been tough for all of us, so we have to really put it all on the line this week. That’s why we’ve been working for a long time for this opportunity, and there are some teams in the league that would die for this opportunity – to be in first place with four games left. So we’ve got to use that as confidence for us and still go out there and understand that we’ve got to play our best football."
One of the biggest challenges it seems you have faced this season is teams trying to cover Wes Welker in every way possible. Is that something you constantly have to work on? ‘OK this team did this, now we have to do this to adjust?
Brady: "Yeah. It’s the same thing when we play defense. When we play Dwight Freeney, it’s not like we say, ‘Well, let’s put him one-on-one with our left tackle all day.’ It’s not really fair to that position player for a guy who is so good at what he does, to allow those one-on-one matchups, so that’s the way teams, I’m sure, approach us. They say, ‘Who are the best players on their team and what are the ways that we need to stop them. Every team has different philosophies on that and every defensive coach has different schemes to take away that – things that have worked for them in the past, things that they see on film that might work. We have to evaluate, ‘OK, this may be what they’re doing, and this is how we need to stay ahead of them as well.’"