FOXBORO — Hours before Tom Brady‘s weekly pregame chat with reporters at Gillette Stadium, Rex Ryan acknowledged the greatness of Darrelle Revis but didn’t want to go overboard.
Brady had no such restrictions on him when he was asked his impressions of what Revis has meant to the Patriots’ defense and the team overall.
“He’s a phenomenal player and I’ve loved playing with him,” Brady said. “I’ve hated playing against him, and I’ve had my fair share of those opportunities. He’s a great teammate. He’s a phenomenal player. I think the thing that I’m so impressed with is his coverage skills without getting penalties.”
Avoiding penalties has certainly been a challenge, not only for the Patriots but everyone across the NFL. Flags are up around the league at the rate of two more per game. But Revis has been able to avoid the laundry being heaved in his direction. He has been hit with just two accepted penalties this season, both for defensive holding. Brady sees that as remarkable considering officials have been on higher alert for illegal contact beyond the line of scrimmage.
“That’s a rare thing to be backpedaling when the guys who are some of the best athletes in the world are running at you as fast as they can with the size and speed of the way the receivers are, and to be able to cover those guys like he does is pretty amazing.”
Brady also spoke of the growth he’s seen from Rob Gronkowski in the five years he’s spent with him. In Brady, Gronkowski and Revis, it could be argued that the Patriots have three players putting up MVP-type seasons. So, what is the difference between a valuable football player as opposed to an outstanding one?
“It’s a good question. It all kind of depends on the team and what your role is on the team,” Brady said. “Everybody’s role is valuable. In professional football, certain positions always get more attention as to their value. I know on our team, Coach [Bill] Belichick thinks everybody is important. Everybody has to do their job because if you don’t do it, then nobody else can do it for you.
“Certainly my position, nobody can throw the ball or make the reads or call the plays in the huddle. That’s what my job is to do. And you’ve got to do it every single day. You’ve got to do it every single week. You’ve got to be dependable. You’ve got to be durable. You’ve got to bring the energy and enthusiasm and ultimately try to help your team win. That’s the only reason we’re playing is to win games, not to throw touchdown passes or catch touchdown passes. You’re doing whatever you can on every play to help the team win the game. That’s to me what being valuable is.”
Here are more takeaways from Brady on Wednesday:
Q: You had a good stretch where you were starting really fast, but that has taken a step back in recent weeks. Do you look at that differently from everything else in terms of how you try to fix it?
TB: Yeah, we like to start fast, and we talk about that every week. It’s pretty frustrating when we don’t. We try to do things to get us going and get our best plays and you talk about the plays you want to run early, and we just haven’t done a good enough job of stringing enough plays together in order to score points. You just don’t want to fall behind. It’s hard to fall behind in this league and expect to come back and win. Your margin of error just gets less and less as you go, so we’ve got to focus quite a bit on that. Certainly a team like the Jets, who have done such a great job with time of possession, especially against us, we’ve got to figure out a way to stay on the field and convert more third downs, score more points and ultimately try to keep their offense off the field. It’s a big week to try to do that.
Q: Have your struggles early in the game been a lack of execution, or are the defenses surprising you with their looks and making great plays?
TB: It can be a little of both. You want to create that momentum by sustaining play after play after play, which leads to a great drive and points and hopefully a great kickoff and then defense and then back on the field, kind of like what we did there in the third quarter [last week]. Our execution offensively, I think we can do a lot better than what we’ve been doing these last few weeks, and we’ve talked a lot about that. It’s frustrating for all of us when we’re not scoring the type of points that we’re capable of doing. I just focus on what I have to do and I can certainly do better in that area, making better decisions, better throws, and we’re going to need it this week against this team because they challenge you in a lot of ways. They’ve got a multitude of things that they do. They’ve always done that. They really test your communication and certainly execution is something that we look on all our past games we’ve played against them and said, ‘Gosh, our execution just wasn’t very sharp,’ so we’ve got to be very sharp this week.
Q: Is your mobility something you look forward to now? Do you drive home at night thinking about your next great scamper?
TB: I don’t know if I’d characterize it as a great scamper. I think if those opportunities present themselves then I’m going to try to take advantage. Maybe there is a little more awareness now than there has been in the past. Once you make a couple of them, you kind of get a feel for it. If that’s what we need to do, then that’s what we need to do, and if they’re not going to account for that, then I think that’s kind of an easy play to make. You just have to have the awareness and be able to do it. It’s a mental thing; it’s a physical thing. Mentally, hopefully I’m ahead of where I’ve been in the past. However we need to convert third downs and stay on the field and score points is going to be something that I’m trying to do to help us win.
Q: What kind of exercises and drills have you done recently to help with your running ability? Has that changed recently?
TB: Those are highly top-secret, confidential things that we’re doing. Yeah, it’s just things that I’ve learned over the years that are really working and paying off this year.
Q: You seem to be using the resistance bands a lot more in the last month or so. Is that something you’ve added or is it just a little more public?
TB: I think that’s just been a little more public. But I love using those. They’re a great tool.
Q: Where can you buy them?
TB: You guys don’t need them in here.
Q: You had I think four passes that were batted down at the line of scrimmage. Were those just good plays by the defensive linemen or is there something that you can do differently?
TB: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. I think there is an element of both those things. Sometimes, you can really feel the rush and you can see your guy start to creep behind the defending player and you throw it and you know, ‘Man, that’s a bad decision,’ because there was really no lane to throw it. Sometimes that lane closes really quickly. They’re reading your eyes and you don’t see it because I’m looking down the field. There was one that I was trying to throw to Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] in the right flat going away from the lighthouse that he just made a good play. Those are tough. It’s hard to read the coverage and read the d-linemen. There are other times where, yeah, I can kind of [peripherally see] the d-linemen and then still make the throw. So, sometimes it’s a good play, sometimes it’s a bad play by the quarterback. Regardless of that, I think the point is you’ve got to advance the ball and move the ball down the field. If they’re going to be batting down balls, they’re not rushing, and we should be throwing somewhere else. It ends up going for a zero play in the stat book, and you don’t want too many of those on offense. You always want to be moving the ball down the field. If the defense makes that play, then you can’t obviously have four of them. That doesn’t help our team win at all.