FOXBOROUGH — Who will grab the ball, and the headlines, this week?
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke about taking advantage of spreading the ball around to different receivers today during his weekly Q&A session with the media at Gillette Stadium.
“You know everybody knows they’ll have opportunity in the game,” Brady said. “It’s just a matter of, a guy’s open, he’s the first read on the play based on a certain coverage, he gets the ball. We don’t have a bunch of selfish guys where, you know, ‘Throw it to me I was triple covered, just throw it up in the air.’
“Guys are if they’re open, they’ll let me know, ‘Hey, I beat him on that play,’ and if they’re not they’ll say, ‘Yeah, I couldn’t get outside of him,’ or ‘He got his hands on me or something like that,’ but it’s a group of guys that are very unselfish, that really are happy when another guys does well, so no one is more happy for Aaron [Hernandez] than Rob [Gronkowski] or Wes [Welker] or Chad [Ochocinco], or myself because that’s what it took. He [Hernandez] had an opportunity to make some big plays for us in the game and he made them, and next week it may be someone different. I think collectively, the skill players, the running backs, we’re all coordinated. We’re all in this together. If I’m doing my job, help get someone the ball, Wes is clearing out on a route which helps someone else get the ball, he’s doing his job. And he knows he’s going to have an opportunity where someone else is clearing out for him and he’s going to have his chance.”
More from Brady’s presser today:
How much carryover has there been from the last time you played the Dolphins forever ago?
Brady: “Yeah, it feels like a long time ago. I feel like we’ve really caught up to what they’re doing lately. They’re obviously playing very well. They got off to a slow start this year but they’ve really turned things around. They’re doing some different things. They’re still pretty much the same group of guys in there and it’s a very talented group of guys. The can certainly make plays, good corners that can cover, safeties that can cover some ground, athletic linebackers and they can rush the passer. It’s a good defense and they’ve been playing certainly much better lately.”
You like to point out how much better you guys grow as a team throughout the course of a season. Do you look back at that film from Week 1 against the Dolphins and see some things that are completely different between then and now?
Brady: “I think it’s really one portion of the preparation for the week. You want to watch the game because you want to see maybe how your matchups are. How does this guy compare when he’s matched up on so and so? his quickness, his speed and so forth. But scheme-wise, we do different things, they do different things. It’s just pretty much ultimately going to come down to how we execute this game plan. That was a very different game plan than we’re going to have this time. We have to put our work in. We had a pretty significant walkthrough today. We got off to a good start. We’re familiar with them, obviously playing them as often as we do. We know the personnel, we know some of the schemes, but ultimately it’s going to be how familiar we get with them and how well we prepare.”
The way things have shaken out in the AFC, if you guys win two you’re the number one seed. How do you handle that? Do you talk about it? Do you ignore it?
Brady: “I don’t think we think about any of those things other than Miami. We haven’t thought about another different, we’ve had a very short-term focus as we always do here and certainly this week is no different. You talk about something that is five weeks from now, that’s not really what we’re thinking about. What we’re thinking about is Miami and the challenges that they present and the things that we need to do to prepare for the week. Ultimately, what’s going to have a bigger influence on this game than anything is how we prepare this week. What we did three months ago in the opener has no bearing on this game. What we do five weeks from now has no bearing on this game. The most important thing is how well we prepare and ultimately how well we play.”
It’s still a good situation though, controlling your own playoff standing?
Brady: “We have that opportunity every year. Week 1 we had that same opportunity. You control your own fate. We certainly always control it. We play well, we win games. That’s important to our standing. We had a very important, emotional game last week that we put a lot into, we prepared well. I think that’s the thing that we take from last week. We do the same type of thing, we prepare hard, focus on what we can focus on, control what we can control, go out there and play with great effort, good execution and we’ll be in good position.”
How nice was it to see Aaron Hernandez out there healthy after being hurt up earlier in the season? How much of a different is that?
Brady: “It’s very important. I think the health of all the guys – Aaron went through it last year when he struggled late in the year a little bit. Part of growing from your first year to your second year is taking better care of yourself. He’s certainly done that. You look around the locker room at guys like Wes [Welker], guys like Andre Carter, Jerod [Mayo], some veteran players that really know how to prepare themselves and are really professional and then you try to do like those guys do. Aaron has really watched and learned and he does a great job of making sure he’s prepared every week. That’s really been a big factor in this season for us.”
I know it’s a different side of the ball but what can the loss of a guy like Andre Carter do to the locker room? I know you guys were lucky last year to have a guy like Alge Crumpler. At least from the outside it looks like Carter has the same kind of impact.
Brady: “He’s really very professional. Like you said, offensively we really don’t get to be with those guys in the meetings and we really don’t know what their roles are every play but just watching from the sideline. He was out there all the time, he was always getting after the quarterback and our coaches really had a lot of trust in him, that’s why he was out there so much. It sucks to lose guys late in the year. He’s disappointed because he was having such a great year. Hopefully we can go out there and still play well.”