FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady wants fans to be loud and well-hydrated on Sunday.
With the home opener approaching, the Patriots quarterback was asked if he had any message for the fans heading to Foxborough to see the Patriots-Chargers game.
“Yeah, start drinking early,” Brady said with a snicker. “Get nice and rowdy. It’s a 4:15 game, a lot of time to get lubed up. Come out here, and cheer for the home team.”
The Patriots later clarified the “drinking early” remark on behalf of Brady, telling the assembled media, “He meant ‘stay hydrated, drink a lot of water. Be loud, drink responsibly.'”
Brady was reminded that Gillette Stadium has a reputation for having been a quiet place for the home team to play football over the last few years.
“Look, we make good plays, they’re going to scream,” Brady said. “If we don’t make good plays, they’re going to probably boo us. So we’re going to focus on making good plays. The crowd, it always helps when they’re loud but we got to give them reasons to be loud, we’ve got to give them reasons to cheer for us. Hopefully those muskets are going off a lot this weekend.”
Brady was asked if he was surprised about former Patriot and ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi’s comments on highly scrutinized wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
“Everyone has an opinion on everything, and none of it really means anything,” Brady said. “The only thing that means anything are the guys in this locker room and what we do in practice.”
Brady was asked how things were coming along with Ochocinco.
“I have no problems with Chad at all,” Brady said.
Bruschi, appearing on WEEI yesterday, criticized Ochocinco for looking at the Patriots from a fan’s perspective in lieu of acting like he’s part of the team.
“You’re not someone who’s on another team or watching TV,” Bruschi said. “You’re not an analyst, you’re a part of it. They want you to be a part of it. So get with the program because obviously you’re not getting it and you’re tweeting because you’re saying, ‘It’s amazing to see’? It’s amazing to see because you don’t understand it. You still don’t understand it, and it’s amazing to you because you can’t get it.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked today if he thought Ochocinco had a good understanding of what the team is trying to do offensively.
“It’s good. I think he understands it,” Belichick said. “I think he understands what we’re doing.”
Belichick was also asked if Ochocino will be a key factor in trying to beat the Chargers.
“I think all the players that participate in the game will have an important role in it, absolutely,” Belichick said. “But it’s not really my job to try to pad up individual statistics for any player on the team. I’m not really interested in that. The only statistic really I care about is the final score. That’s what our goal is. I know everybody else wants to talk about and write about individual stats and what each individual’s production is but really I’m concerned about the team’s success, that’s the way it will always be.”
Brady also spoke about facing the Chargers.
“They were pretty good last year, they led the league in defense,” Brady said. “It was our fewest production when we played them last year, we had like 200 yards in offense, didn’t do really well in the red area, didn’t run it great, didn’t throw it great. Didn’t protect as well as we are capable. We were pretty fortunate last year playing them. Hopefully we can execute better. They’ve got a good team, and good defense. As veterans, they’re aggressive, they’re tough, they can tackle. They’re experienced. They’ve got a very good offense that can put points up on the board very quickly.”
More from Brady’s Q&A sesion from his locker courtesy of the Patriots media relations staff:
Q: When you get your two tight ends going, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, what does that mean to the offense?
Brady: “They’re both a big part of our offense and the tight ends have always been involved in our offense. I think the skill set of both those players really allows us to be flexible. Not only are they good blockers, but they can catch the ball too. You can run it behind them, you can play action pass. They’ve become pretty efficient in the passing game also, just to spread them out and being able to run them on different route combinations. They’re very good players.”
Q: Does that allow you to dictate what the other team can do with them out there?
Brady: “Sure, you’re always looking for matchups out there. So Aaron [Hernandez] had a few of them last game, Rob [Gronkowski] had a few of them, Wes [Welker] has them, Deion [Branch] has them. Wherever the matchup is, that’s where we try to go. That’s part of being a smart football team, is trying to exploit the other team’s defense.”
Q: Are you a little bit surprised that the offense worked as efficiently as it did with the amount of practice you missed in the offseason?
Brady: “I thought we got off to a decent start. I think there were a lot of three and outs, we had penalties, we had a turnover. It wasn’t a perfect performance by any stretch. I think we were efficient, I think we took advantage of the opportunities that we had but there were certainly more plays out there for us to be made. That’s why we’re back at practice – we’re going to try to make some improvements. There are some games where you can’t make any mistakes and that’s what we’re trying to strive toward.”
Q: Can you talk about your confidence in Dan Connolly and what he has meant to this team and what he means to the team going forward?
Brady: “Dan has been here for quite awhile. He understands the system, he understands the calls. When you play right guard and you have to move over to center you know all the center’s calls. He’s been a backup center for a long time and he’s expected to go out there and perform very well, as he’s done at right guard. All those guys have some position flexibility. Coach [Belichick] always says ‘the more you can do around here. If you only do one thing, you better do it really well.’ Obviously those guys have to play multiple positions.”
Q: The Chargers come in with a lot of hype so you have to eliminate all or most of the mistakes you made last week.
Brady: “Yeah, exactly. Every week you play different teams, they have more film on you. They’re going to want to figure out how they’re going to match up. You play against a team that’s one of the most talented teams in the league every year. I think they’ve gotten off to some slow starts the last few years but it doesn’t look like they’re starting slow this year. I think that’s really been a point of emphasis for them. This year you can really see it on film. It’s an attacking defense, they have great players at every position. They have good corners, good safeties, linebackers, veteran defense. I think they run quite a few different looks for the offense. It’s a short week for us too and guys in here are kind of walking around a little stiff, a little tight. We have to move on from last week’s game and really get working hard on these guys.”
Q: As quickly as you’re trying to move on, you get the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award, is that a distraction?
TB: “My goals are much bigger than AFC Offensive Player of the Week around here.”
Q: Getting back to the tight ends, a lot of teams have one really good receiving tight end and one good blocking tight end. You seem fortunate to have two guys that can do both.
Brady: “Sure, they’ve been able to do both for us. They’re going to need to continue to do more and continue to play at a high level. I mean it’s been one week, there’s not much to go on other than one game. We’re trying to string it together for a very, very long season. We got off to a decent start. I wouldn’t say it’s our best performance I’ve ever seen around here. We won one game and now we have to move onto the next one.”
Q: Given how pass happy the league has become, does it put any extra pressure on you or Philip Rivers to produce in that fashion – to match each other?
Brady: “It’s been a passing league for a long time. I think the running game is very important to every offense. Being balanced is extremely important. There’s times where you have to throw the ball. You could be down late in the game, you need to come back, you have to be able to pass it when they know you’re passing it. That’s not only throwing the ball but getting open on consecutive routes. Being able to protect when they know you’re going to only pass the ball. My job is to go against this defense and try to get our guys in the best position so they can do what they do well, ultimately play well enough over the course of a drive to get the ball in the end zone. Our defense will have to handle their offense. That’s a big test for all of us on this team. It has to be a very complementary game for all of us.”
Q: You’ve had the luxury of having Dan Koppen in front of you, for the most part, for a number of years. Can you talk about your on-field relationship with your center and how important it is? Is it overlooked at all – that stable relationship between a center and a quarterback?
Brady: “Every center-quarterback relationship is special and Dan and I have had that for a long time. I’ve known Dan Connolly for awhile. He’s been in there at center quite a bit – minicamps, training camps, we’re always preparing for guys playing multiple positions. He’s done a good job with that. He did a damn good job the other night, stepping in. He’s going to need to be able to do that for the foreseeable future.”