Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke briefly about his newborn son, then preferred to discuss football in his press conference Wednesday in Foxborough. Click the full entry button to see the complete Q&A.
Brady: "Just a normal week. Just a normal week."
Did you have any personal events in the last 24 hours?
Brady: "Yes, I did."
Brady: "Thank you. Thank you."
How in depth do you feel like going?
Brady: "Not very today. Not very today. I think itís obviously a wonderful experience in my life, and I owe it to the guys in the locker room to really be focused on what I need to do for this team. Thatís kind of where Iím at today, and I put all those emotions aside and kind of come in here with a great sense of determination of what we have to do as a team. As a captain and a leader of this team, the last thing that they need from me is to be really not focused on the job at hand. There are plenty of things for me to be doing here this week."
Was it very important for you to get here today and make sure that you were part of this preparation?
Brady: "Yeah. Oh yeah, itís really a normal week for me in that sense. Had a lot of good work done Monday and we came in as a team and did a bunch of work. I had stuff to do yesterday here, so itís part of what we do."
Can you give us a quick health update on the important people in your life?
Brady: "Yeah, everyone is great. Everyone is great. I didnít get much sleep, but I think thatís most of us around here this time of year. So everyone is doing really well.
What did you decide on for a name?
Brady: "You know I donít have any picks, so we havenít really chosen one yet."
Male or female?
Brady: "I do know the answer to that. Itís a boy. Letís talk football."
Obviously there are a ton of factors in getting the tight ends. Where do you guys stand as far as that goes, and is that a continued focus or is it kind of just whatever is called is called?
Brady: "Well, our tight ends are a big part of this offense here and we ask them to do a lot of different things. Itís a fairly challenging position in this offense because youíre required to do a lot of things. Ben [Watson] has been here for six seasons and does a great job for us in both phases Ė in the passing game and in the running game. Chris [Baker], in his first year, can definitely do both. Itís just a matter of the matchups that we find out there on the field that weíre trying to go after, so whether itís Wes [Welker] on his guy, or Randy [Moss] on his guy, Ben on his guy, Kevin [Faulk] on his guy [and] the running game when they play soft. In the end, thereís only one football and I wish we were getting the tight ends the ball more because theyíve always proven they can make plays when we do get it to them. I think itís really a focus here in the last four weeks when itís obvious teams are really focusing hard on Randy and Wes, to really find some alternatives."
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, heís a great player for us and itís obvious. Thereís not many guys Ė on that first catch he had the other day Ė thereís not many guys in the league that can do that. Itís really a rare talent that he has. Itís unfortunate we donít make those plays there in the second half that we need to, but weíre going to need to. I think thatís really what I take from that. When you get the ball to him, heís getting down the field like that, really putting pressure on those safeties where he really has some good matchups, heís 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. Itís more just [when] you take a three-point shot, itís not like a slam dunk. At times youíre right, youíve got to hit those plays when theyíre there and you have the opportunity. You donít get that opportunity very often, so when you do throw them, youíve got to make the plays. Itís frustrating when you donít 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. Thatís something thatís been a little bit frustrating for all of us. I know the coaches are frustrated when he calls it and heís open and I miss it. So itís 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 theyíre 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, ĎOK this is what weíre going to do to stop them.í 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 weíre able to do. Youíve got to understand that this is the way itís going to be. If youíre up by 10 points, or 11 points, or 13 points, theyíre 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. Heís 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 theyíve moved on and weíve moved on. Weíve had quite a different experience with this yearís team. Youíre right, weíre 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 youíre 7-5, youíre obviously not doing everything right, so what you are doing, if you continue to do it, youíre going to get a lot of the same, which is pretty average. I always think thereís only one way to do it, which is to put more into it and to put everything into it and I think thatís the commitment that the leadership makes to the team and younger guys Ė 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 didnít 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. Thatís coachís decision. And the guys that are here Ö Iíve got to do my job. Iíve got plenty of things to do. Like I said, Iíve got to show up every day and bring whatever I have Ė the energy and the leadership that I have Ė to this team, because thatís what all those guys [do]. Thatís 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 doesnít. 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, youíve got to bring awareness to what we, as leaders, and what our coach thinks are issues on the team Ė issues that we face as a team, individually, collectively. Itís not about playing hard on Sundays. I mean, we do that. Thatís three hours a week that you have to show up and really commit yourself to. I donít think thatís too much to ask of anybody and guys do that. Itís not like we think weíre 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. Weíve got to make the commitment to each other. And if itís Monday and itís 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 youíre beat up and youíre tired and youíre sore and itís the end of the year and you go, ĎWhy is he doing this?í But in the end, youíre either gaining ground on a team or youíre 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 youíre film study on Tuesday, through all of the treatment that youíve got to do. Thereís a lot that goes into it. I think that if we can keep adding that 10 percent, 20 percent, whatever it may be Ė probably everyoneís got to look at themselves differently. I know what I need to add, and thatís 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, weíve seen all these teams this year. Itís not like I sit here and say, ĎGod, I really hope we donít play those guys again.í I mean, youíd love to get another shot at all the teams weíve 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 thatís what it takes. Ultimately, thereís only one way to do it and thatís 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, thatís extremely important."
Have you been able to put your finger on one particular reason why you guys arenít playing well this year with a lead, especially in the fourth quarter, offensively?
Brady: "I donít know. I donít know. Like I said, we work on it, we talk about it. Itís definitely a focus of what weíre doing. Like I said, even last week, we lost the game Ė thatís what it comes down to. If you win the game, thereíre a lot of things that kind of get swept under the rug, but when you lose, everything comes to light. Youíre right, those second half leads are important, and you need to be able to make those critical plays [that] we havenít been making. Thereís only one way to get better and thatís to get better at them and thatís to work on them, work harder and put more pressure on us. Our coach puts more pressure on us, and thatís 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 Ė yourself Ė 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: "Itís kind of the fourth quarter of the season and hopefully all of the work Ė and you know I hate to talk about myself because itís not about what I do. Itís about what we need to do. Obviously I need to play better. When youíre 7-5, you donít have a lot of good feelings about much, especially with some of the teams that Iíve been on and the kind of expectations that we have. I have to play my best football down the stretch and thereís a lot of football left to play and thereíre 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, thereís nothing figured out at this point. There are playoff races, but there are no seed Ė thereís none of that. What we need to do is win this week. Two straight losses, thatís been tough for all of us, so we have to really put it all on the line this week. Thatís why weíve been working for a long time for this opportunity, and there are some teams in the league that would die for this opportunity Ė to be in first place with four games left. So weíve got to use that as confidence for us and still go out there and understand that weíve 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? ĎOK this team did this, now we have to do this to adjust?
Brady: "Yeah. Itís the same thing when we play defense. When we play Dwight Freeney, itís not like we say, ĎWell, letís put him one-on-one with our left tackle all day.í Itís 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 thatís the way teams, Iím sure, approach us. They say, ĎWho 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 Ė things that have worked for them in the past, things that they see on film that might work. We have to evaluate, ĎOK, this may be what theyíre doing, and this is how we need to stay ahead of them as well.í"