Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, as the Pats continue preparations for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Bills in Buffalo.
One of the Patriots’ final cuts Saturday was backup quarterback Tim Tebow. There’s been speculation that the team might look to bring back the former Bronco and Jet this season, which Brady implied would be fine with him.
“I enjoy being around him very much,” Brady said. “He’s a very talented football player. To have a chance to spend a couple of months with him and kind of become a friend of his, was a great thing. We were yesterday talking about a lot of the quarterbacks that have been through our team over the years. Everyone brings a unique skill set and attitude to the table.
“I really enjoyed being with him. And you never know. Maybe, things in the NFL always — who knows, he could be back on the team at some point this year. I wish him nothing but the best. He’s really a great person and a great player.”
The Patriots went 3-1 in the preseason and stayed relatively healthy, and now Brady is ready to see the team in a meaningful game.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Brady said. “It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of preparation. There’s a lot of guys that have really bought in to the way that coach [Bill] Belichick tries to coach the team. We’ll see how it goes on Sunday. That’s really when we’ll know how prepared we are, when you actually face real live NFL competition with everything on the line.
“You certainly gain a lot from the preseason and the experience of playing, but nothing’s like regular-season football. It’s just a whole different thing. It’s a whole different level of competition. It’s great to be able to game-plan for a particular team and see tendencies and see things that you really like and want to attack, and that’s what this week’s all about. Hopefully, we’re at our best on Sunday.”
The Patriots are loaded with new faces, including 14 rookies, and Brady said he’s eager to see them get the chance to validate their coach’s trust in them.
“Everyone that’s on the team has talent and has the ability to play in the NFL. You wouldn’t reach this level if you didn’t have the ability to perform,” Brady said. “The thing with NFL football is you need to perform on a daily basis, and during the season on a weekly basis in the games. That’s why guys stick around for a long time, because they can consistently perform at a high level. It’s hard to tell with any of the rookies whether they’re able to do that yet. They’ve obviously made it this far and they’ve gained the trust of coach Belichick to have them on the team. He thinks that they’re able to help us win games, which is why we’re here and why we have the job that we have, is to win. I’m anxious, like everyone else, to see that, too. You can talk about it and you think about and you hope about it, but we’ve got to go do it. That’s why you play the game.
“All the guys, we have a lot of new guys on the team, especially at the skill position, the running back position is certainly, hopefully a strength for us. The offensive line, we’ve got all returning starters, which is hopefully another strength. The receiver position, we’ve got basically all new guys with the exception of Julian [Edelman] and Matthew Slater. And then the tight end position, there’s a little bit of carryover. But we’re going to take on our own identity. Like I said, how that plays out, that remains to be seen.”
The Patriots are known for their fast-paced offense. However, with all the new players, there are questions about the team’s ability to continue at that pace. Brady said it will take time to see if the team has the personnel that can succeed in that environment.
“Yeah, we did that [play fast in the past], and we definitely used that as an advantage, as a strength,” he said. “I think we’ve learned a lot from that, both the positives and the negatives. And that’s really something that evolves over the course of a season for a team. Every team has tempo offense, whether that’s a two-minute offense, whether that’s a strictly no-huddle offense — Chip Kelly, that could be [the Eagles'] entire offense.
“The most important thing, and I think I’ve said this before, there’s no gimmicks in the NFL that work for an extended period of time. Ultimately, what wins football games is execution. And it’s the same basic fundamentals that have won football games for decades. And that’s blocking and catching and running and throwing. Just the basic fundamentals of the game. You can’t trick your way through those things. You may come up with a certain formation or a certain play or a certain blitz or a certain defensive alignment. Yeah, it may help win a game, from that standpoint. But what endures over the course of a long period of time is good, quality players playing smart, playing tough, playing physical, executing with great fundamentals. That’s the premise of football.
“We’ve had years where offense is a strength, we’ve had years where defense is a strength, we’ve had years where special teams is a strength, the running game’s a strength, the passing game’s a strength, pass coverage is a strength, turnovers are a strength – all those things play into winning and losing games.
“I think that is a trend to try to go fast, but ultimately it’s the execution of the play. Great, if we run a play in 10 seconds, great. Well, if we lose three yards on the play, it’s not great. What you need to do is move forward. You’ve got to move toward the opponent’s goal line and you’ve got to get the ball in the end zone. There’s lots of ways to get that done. For our particular team over the last years, yeah, that has been something that we’ve done a good job of. We’ll see if that’s a strength for us this year.”
Added Brady: “What’s the strength for our team? Well, I don’t know. We’ll see. We’re going to have to go out there and earn it.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On new wide receiver Danny Amendola: “He’s a very hard-working, hard-nosed football player. He wants to be out there every day — and how competitive he is. He wants to do the right thing and you can tell how much he loves the game and how much he wants to contribute and do it. This is our first opportunity to be able to do that, this weekend. He missed the last couple of preseason games, and I know he’s anxious to get out there and do it under live action. When we played against [the Rams], we game-planned for him. Our defense really speaks to the level of quality of receiver that he is.”
On the Bills: “Buffalo, I know we’ve done a good job against Buffalo over the years. They’re a tough, very tough team. We always have battles against them. We’ve come out on the winning end more times that not, but look, they give us everything that we can handle. I’ve got a ton of respect for that team. … We’ve got a great way to start. There’s no tougher challenge in the NFL than going on the road on opening day against a division opponent. I learned that a long time ago. This is going to be really a great challenge for us. There’s not a lot of information on the team that we’re playing — new coach, new coordinator, new offense, new defense. You’ve got to really prepare for everything. That’s really what we’re trying to do.”
On the start of the season: “There’s 32 teams that are very hopeful about this season. Four months from now, there’s going to be a lot of teams with a lot of crappy seasons. And nobody knows which teams those are. And there’s a lot of things that can happen in the meantime. I just hope we’re not one of those crappy teams. We do everything we can to make sure we’re one of those teams that’s still playing meaningful games at the end of the year. … It’s football season. It’s past Labor Day. We’re at a point in the year where we don’t have days to try to improve; every day counts. We as players understand the urgency of that. Everything that we’ve done for six months is for this week and it’s for this weekend. I hope our team is in a position where we’re ready to do that. I’m excited to go up to Buffalo and see what we’re made of. It should be a great weekend.”