Q: Does playing the Patriots and trying to keep the ball out of Brady's hands put added pressure on the offense?
A: As an offense we have to do a good job of executing. We have to keep the ball in our hands. Can't make mistakes, can't turn the ball over, have to convert on third downs and try to get positive plays each play. Avoid going backwards, avoid those types of things. When we get into the red zone, we just have to score touchdowns, can't settle for field goals. Obviously our defense has a great challenge in going against a high-powered offense with the Patriots. Offensively we know we have to do our part.
Q: Are you inclined to look at each game and say, 'We have to get this one because it just gets tougher'?
A: Every game is important. As you get later in the season, they all become big games. You're starting to fight for playoff spots and see where you stand in the division, things like that. We know we have a big game this week. That's all our focus is on, getting ready for the Patriots, understanding they're always extremely good at home and we have a great challenge to go in there and play our best.
Q: Their secondary has given up a lot of passing yardage. Are they apt to disguise what they are doing or do they just show you?
A: They mix things up. The safeties do a good job of disguising, not tipping their hands at exactly what they're doing. We should have a plan for that. We can run our offense efficiently at these guys, making the right decisions, picking up some of their blitzes and guys just making plays when they're given opportunities.
Q: Do they give up a lot of yards because teams are playing from behind against them or do they give up a lot of yards throughout the flow of the game?
A: It's a mix. Obviously they do jump out on teams and with their offense they score early on. So they get a lead, it forces teams to throw the ball and then the Patriots are sitting back in some two-deep and playing soft, keeping everything underneath, the style of defense where you're giving up yards. A lot of teams aren't getting in there and scoring touchdowns always. It's a little bit of both. We just have to see what they're doing, what they're doing early on in the games and how they changed throughout the situations of games and have a great plan and go execute.
Q: Do you relish the opportunity to play a team like the Patriots?
A: Definitely. These games are fun. When you think of the Patriots you just think of a team that's always in the playoff picture, always a talented team and well coached. These are easy games that we get excited for and you just want to go in there and play the style of football that we know we can.
Q: How have you evolved since the Super Bowl?
A: Played a lot of games. Tried to continue to learn and understand our offense. I've been in the same offense since. Grow and understand defenses and schemes. We have a lot of players on this offense who weren't in that game and didn't play. I've grown with these players these last three years. That game hasn't come into much thought this week, getting ready for this defense. They're doing different things. Just go in there and expect to do well.
Q: What's it like going up against a quarterback like Brady?
A: I think when you go against New England that's all I'm thinking about. They're always a talented team, always a team that finds ways to win games, whether it's through their offense or defense. As a team, they're always very talented. We understand that we have to play solid football. We have to understand what our objectives are, what our goals are and try to accomplish them.
Q: What were your thoughts immediately after the Super Bowl?
A: Just excited. I'm focused on this game, this team and what we have to do this week.
Q: Can you talk about the production of Bear Pascoe and Jake Ballard?
A: Bear's done a great job with having to fill in. We put him at fullback some. We put him out wide. He plays a lot of different spots. He's had to make adjustments and has come in, caught the ball, has had some first downs, has blocked well in the run and the pass. Jake also has done a good job of getting open down the field, making the right reads, seeing things. We also use him, obviously in the blocking, the run game, blocking in the pass game. He's done a good job.
Q: Has their production surprised you?
A: No. I think we're hoping to see them grow and I think with Bear, he's done that last year. We had high expectations, knew what he could do. And with Jake, we saw during training camp, just got better and better, kept learning, understanding our system. We knew he'd be a good blocker, but he just has really grasped what we expect him to do in the pass game. He's done a good job.
Q: How much does the Super Bowl win drive you to try to experience it again?
A: Again, all we're trying to do is prepare for the Patriots right now. We're trying to get ready, go up there, play a great game. We know they're a good team. We know they're always a playoff team. It'll be great to see where we stand against a team that's as talented as they are and know that they always play well at home and just know it's a great challenge for us. Those are the games you get excited for.
Q: They have given up the most yards in the league. Are their things in their defense that you're confident you can take advantage of?
A: Well yeah. Obviously there are some things we're hoping, when you watch film, prepare, that we see some plays that should work. It's still a matter of execution, everybody doing the right things, guys blocking up and also just staying in good down and distance, being able to run the ball and get positive yards. Don't have penalties. Don't take sacks. Stay in good rhythm. Obviously we've had a good week of preparation. They'll always have something new, something different to try to slow us down. But we'll see what that is, make adjustments and go on.
Q: What is it this year that's keeping the picks down?A: Just not throwing it to the other team. I think it's being smart. The team hasn't been in situations where we're down by multiple touchdowns late in the game, where you're trying to force things and you don't have many options left. I worked hard on my accuracy, throwing the ball where it needs to be. Guys are doing a good job of getting open, being in the right spot. Offensive linemen are protecting well. I'm not having to throw it before I'm ready or throw it while I'm getting hit. Tipped balls are bouncing and hitting the ground and not into other people's arms. A lot of things come into that, but I'm just trying to make good decisions, make my reads and put the ball where it needs to be.
Q: Did it come to a point where it became tough to talk about the Super Bowl, where you couldn't focus on the past?
A: Yeah. I think you always want to focus on the future. I think that's always the goal. Obviously there are fine memories of that year that you never forget. When you're getting ready for a game or getting ready for circumstances it's about understanding where you stand right now and what you need to do.
Q: Do you think there will be a moment in the future when you enjoy talking about it?A: I enjoy talking about it, just at the right time and place.
Q: This will be 111 starts in a row for you. How much pride do you take in your durability?
A: I always want to be out there for my guys and for my teammates. I expect them to do the same. I think we have great character guys on this team. They want to be out there each week, whether they're banged up or have different things going. They want to be out there at practice each day, getting better and learning what we're doing that week, what we're trying to establish. I try to take care of myself in the offseason, do all of the right things to make sure I'll do everything I can to be there for every game.
Q: What do you do differently in the offseason than when you first came into the league?
A: Probably now I don't take quite as much time off as I used to. I used to totally relax, you get out of shape and then you have to work back in – just try to stay in shape all year round. I obviously take my rest, give my body time to recover, regroup. But I think my training has always been the same in trying to make sure that I'm doing everything to stay healthy and do things to keep from getting certain injuries.
Q: How do you control a game with the pass game?
A: You have to find completions. You have to mix in some long throws and short throws. Sometimes it's good to get a four or five-yard completion, that's what the play called for, it throws the defense off. Stay in good down and distance with that. You're not taking sacks. You're not having penalties. You're not going backwards. You're still staying in good rhythm and having a good down and distance.
Q: Is there anything you can put your finger on in relation to finishing strong?
A: It's not something you think about.* *You go in there and I thought we've done a great job this year of finishing games in the fourth quarter, way in the fourth quarter. That was part of that situation. I think we have to take that same attitude into the season, finishing the season strong, no matter what point. It's just a matter of being confident, we're going to go in there and play well, but humble enough in preparation each week to make sure you're ready to play.
Q: Can these fourth quarter comebacks build a confidence?
A: I think so. I think you know no matter what the circumstances are in a game we always feel that we have a shot, that we're going to be able to get hot as an offense or defense, we'll get key stops when we need it. Those types of things. I don't think it's something you always want to rely on because there are always unexpected things that happen. But it is a nice thing to have in your back pocket if you need to pull it out.