One day after a convincing victory against the Miami Dolphins that gave the New England Patriots the second seed of the playoffs and a first-round bye, quarterback Tom Brady says he hopes the best is yet to come.
“The only thing we can take care of is what’s ahead of us,’’ said Brady during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan morning show. “The expectations are high around here. We’re in a decent position. I think we’re playing hard, we’re playing tough. We won some close games, we lost some close games. I just hope our best football’s ahead of us, I really do.’’
A first-round bye week means the Patriots won’t play until Jan. 13. Since they can’t play the Cincinnati Bengals this round, the three potential opponents are all teams the Patriots have faced — the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens.
Brady said that unlike a bye week during the regular season, where teams can prepare for their scheduled opponents, the playoffs bring unique changes to the Patriots’ practice schedule.
“There’s really no defense to focus on,’’ said Brady. “I think a lot of our practice will go against our own defense, individual drills and techniques and trying to get better. It’s a lot of self-evaluation … You’re always so wrapped up in the course of the season with the opponent that you don’t often times get a chance to focus on yourself and we’ll have a chance to do that this week.’’
New England defeated the Colts and the Texans, but lost to the Ravens in Week 3. Brady said that playing those teams in the regular season doesn’t give the Patriots very much advantage in the postseason, but does give some familiarity.
“There’s nothing that really took place in the first game that’s going to have much of an impact on the second game,’’ Brady said. “Every game is going to have it’s own individual week of preparation and execution and putting everything you got into the week. To me, it always comes down to execution … the running, the throwing, defense … and all the things that come down to winning and losing.’’
Tight end Rob Gronkowski was back playing after five games off due to a broken forearm. He had two catches for 42 yards and a touchdown, and Brady said the bye week will be good for Gronk and other teammates to rest before the playoffs.
“Rob [Gronkowski] was just out there for the first time after a month or so and everyone really contributed, which was great for our offense,’’ Brady said. “Hopefully we can use this next week to everyone’s advantage by getting some rest and healing up those little bumps and bruises sustained over the course of the year so we can be the best when we need it the most.’’