FOXBORO — Tom Brady knows the potential of these Patriots. He also knows it’s about time they start showing it for a whole game.
This weekend presents that opportunity as the 4-8 Cleveland Browns come calling at Gillette Stadium for a showdown with the 9-3 Patriots, who with a win, can clinch a playoff spot and possibly a division title.
With so much on the line, the Patriots do not want to come out and begin the game like they did last Sunday in Houston against the two-win Texans. They trailed 10-0 early and 17-7 at halftime.
“I know, We’ve started slow too many times this year, and it’s hard to keep playing from behind,” Brady said. “I think we talk about it; we’re trying to get better at it. There’s no magic formula, just like there’s really no magic formula to what we’re doing in the second half. It’s just really the execution needs to be a lot better at the start of the game, and really we’ve got to have great execution for the entire game.
“That’s the most important thing. We’ve played some really good teams, really good defenses that have put a lot of pressure on us, so it’s hard sometimes to play 60 good minutes of football, but we’ve got to start doing that at some point. We’ve had some ups and downs, but we’ve got to put together a good game.”
Brady was also asked if he had heard about or seen the video of Cleveland back-up QB Alex Tanney, who is splitting reps in practice while Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden are cleared for activity but not practice. In the video, Tanney is the “Minnesota Fats” of football, turning every pass into a trick shot.
“I haven’t seen it,” Brady admitted. “I will look it up. I remember the kicking [video]. That was pretty good. I saw that one.”
Brady was advised that the video is a “must see.”
“All right, I’ll check it out,” Brady said.
Q: Obviously the personnel changes, but remembering back to Week 2 of last year with Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton with the Cardinals, do you see a lot of carryover in what he’s doing with Cleveland?
TB: Yeah. I mean it’s his defense, and they do a lot of real good things. I think that’s important to kind of know their style and know where it all comes from, and I know he came from Pittsburgh too, so there’s some influence there. But they’ve got a good team, good defense, I think they’re ranked pretty high. Again, I feel like every week I’m about to talk about the top-10 defense, but they’re like fourth or fifth in all the categories, and really good. Stout up front, and Joe Haden’s one of the best cover guys in the league, so it’s a good group. We’ve got to somehow put together 60 good minutes. Hopefully we can do that.
Q: What makes Haden so good? Is he aggressive on the ball? Does he jump routes?
TB: He’s really smart, so I think he – does he jump routes? Yeah, when you throw it. And then when you don’t throw it, he doesn’t jump them, so it’s just – he has really good instincts, and he kind of knows when to take his chances. He’s got great ball skills. When the ball is up in the air, he tracks it, makes interceptions, so he’s a really talented player. He’s a very confident player. You can see that he has a lot of confidence in his skill set, so you’re able to be aggressive, and he’s one of the – he’s an aggressive player. He doesn’t just give you easy throws out there.
Q: We’ve seen Rob Gronkowski take advantage of a lot of matchups this year. Have you seen a one-on-one matchup where he hasn’t had the advantage this year?
TB: I mean, that’s kind of what he does best. He’s such a physical presence on the field. His size, his length, and his speed, his quickness. He’s a tough matchup. It’d be like in other sports where you have great matchups in basketball or something like that, where it’s truly a one-on-one and you have a physical advantage. Gronk always seems to have a physical advantage, it’s just a matter of if the scheme can help find a way to get him open. But the other teams are pretty conscious of what he’s doing there. They don’t often just let him run free in the secondary or get down the field, so we’ve got to find different ways to get him the ball. If they do that, then you’ve got to throw it to other guys. You’ve got to throw it to the other tight end, you’ve got to throw it to the receivers, the backs. That’s what really complements an offense, when you can have different things to go to when they’re taking away something that you want to go to.
Q: How does Shane Vereen allow you to create mismatches against the defense?
TB: Shane’s got a lot of versatility in what he does. He can run the ball [well] from the backfield, he does a good job as a receiving back, so there’s no question that he’s a big part of our offense. Not that the other backs aren’t receiving backs; they are, it’s just Shane has more of that role. That’s what we ask him to do, whether it’s blitz pickup, running the ball… You’ve got to have someone back there who you really trust, and he’s gained the trust of everybody.
Q: What has James Develin brought to this team? He had first touchdown last Sunday.
TB: Yeah, on a great run. His power, what he’s able to do physically in the run game, same thing, blitz pickup, he really brings the element of toughness to the team. That’s one spot, too, specifically where the fullback, that’s what that job is. It’s a very selfless position. You’re not going to get a lot of carries or catches. It’s really about springing holes for other people, and whether that’s the running back or protecting for the quarterback so you can drop back and throw it to the receivers, it’s all about the team at that position. He brings it. I mean, he’s earned that spot, he earned it throughout the offseason; done a great job coming in this year and [filling] a big void that we really didn’t have anyone in that spot the last couple of years.
Q: Did you have to double-check when the call came in to give him the ball on the goal line?
TB: No, we knew that was something that we wanted to do, and I think he gives everybody confidence that he can do those things. Then when you give it to him and you see a fourth or fifth effort on a score, you want to give the guy more opportunities. That’s what it’s like. You do something good, you get more opportunity, and you keep gaining the trust of the coaches, you’re going to have more chances as the season goes on.
Q: You had the best view of that play. After he was stopped the first time, did you look back towards the coaches to see what the next play would be?
TB: I know, he went up and then he got knocked back and bounced off, and then I think it was just great second, third, fourth effort, and by the offensive line too. That’s what we’re going to need this week. These guys are really stout against the run, so we’re going to need some of those second, third efforts against this team too, because they’ve got a bunch of big guys in the front and really athletic linebackers, so we’re going to need that same type of effort.
Q: One of the sadder stories to come out of Sunday was the two security guards getting fired after taking pictures with you. Do feel like that was kind of harsh?
TB: Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t have any comment on that. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t make the rules.
Q: Tom, we’ve seen Bill up there at the podium many times before and he is always very stoic and serious. Do you get to see another side to him? Does he like to joke around and laugh?
TB: Sure, we do. I know up here he is all football and all business. We’re certainly around him a lot more than you guys are so we get different sides of him. I’ve got different sides of him for a long time. We’ve got a great relationship.
Q: Can he tell good jokes?
TB: Can he? He’s got some great jokes. He’s got some great jokes, yes. They’re not appropriate to tell my young children, but they’re good jokes.
Q: Do you guys think about the opportunity to clinch the division of the conference title at all?
TB: I mean, I think this week is about Cleveland and trying to beat those guys. So, most importantly it is about making improvements and trying to figure out some of the things we haven’t been doing right so we can do them better for 60 minutes. This team is going to be big challenge for us. They’ve got some really good skill guys on offense. They’ve got a really good defense, one of the top ranked defenses in the league. So, I think all that stuff will ultimately take care of itself. There’s nothing we can do about January this week. We’ve got to try and put ourselves in a great position by going to win.
Q: How much does it help that you have experienced a couple comeback wins early in the season rather than trying to explain to the younger guys what it is like?
TB: I don’t think we really feel like we’re out of it. We’ve never really had that sense on the sideline. I think there is urgency to what we’re trying to do, but I don’t think there is a panic. We’ve got some mental toughness, we’ve got a little resiliency. We’ve overcome some slow starts throughout the year. We’ve overcome some fourth quarter deficits. We haven’t won them all, but we’ve been in it. So, we’ve just got to keep fighting until the end. It’s never over until the refs blow that final whistle. We’ve got a chance as long as we’re on the field.
Q: Earlier in the season there was talk about the offense’s third quarter struggles. Now it seems as if the struggles have flipped and you are starting off games slowly. What are some of the biggest reasons why that has happened?
TB: I’m not sure. You know, I wish it was easy for us to figure out, too. Believe me, we’re not trying to go out there and not play well in the first half or the third quarter. We’re always trying to do the right thing. I just think it’s probably a post-season evaluation where you figure out, OK, what plays were we running? What do we have to do better? What didn’t we execute well? I think it is just that type of evaluation more than anything. But, like I said the other day, it’s not like after the first drive you come off and you think that you have no clue what is going on. You’ve got to play it out and see what you’re doing and see how the flow of the game is going. Hopefully you get off to a good start and you can play from ahead. I think ultimately that’s what we always try to do. We just haven’t done that in several games this year. We’re got to try and do a better job of that.
Q: Isn’t winning the division at the top of the to-do list at the start of the season?
TB: I mean, that’s where it starts, yeah. You’ve got to take care of the teams in your division and we’ve still got four weeks to go. There’s a lot of football left to be played and winning this game is critical for us. There’s nothing we can do about the other games we’ve played in the past or the ones we have in the future. We’ve got this game and this is the one we’ve got to focus on.
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Gabe calls the boys to handicap one of the biggest gambling days of the year - Super Bowl 51! Gabe has all the point spread info down and gets to all of the major prop bets that interest him.
Fauria is still down in Houston and calls live from NRG Stadium to give his take on what will go down later on in Super Bowl 51. He likes the Pats and gives his reasons why, but also gets into the scene in Houston all week, famous people he met and why he is tired out from a wild week.
The NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to swirl as the deadline approaches and Picard is ready to go! He talks about the possibility of Jimmy Butler coming to Boston, why Isaiah Thomas is not getting enough respect and the future of the Celtics.
Adrian Wojnarowski has been talking about the possibility of the Celtics making a trade with the Bulls to bring Jimmy Butler to Boston. He actually thinks it may be the the marquee deal to keep an eye on this week heading into the trade deadline. Pete and Jerry discuss and give their thoughts on if they would want Butler. Pete thinks it will happen, Jerry thinks Ainge will stay put. The guys get into more Celtics, present and future and if they can battle with the best of the NBA.
Anna Horford, sister of Boston Celtics Al Horford, makes her Boston radio debut. She talks about Twitter and reacting to mean tweets about her brother. She also gives us her thoughts on the city of Boston and racism.
Bradford checks in from spring training to give us all the media dirt he can dig up...oh, and talk some baseball too.
Rob Bradford is joined by Lou Merloni to talk life in spring training, his toiletries, sleeping arrangements, and facing off with Red Sox personnel that he might have been critical of. Rob and Lou also get into the dynamic of electronic and print media when it comes to ripping the Red Sox.
Pete, Bradford, and Tomase are talking all about the Boston Red Sox, who opened spring training on Monday with pitchers and catchers reporting. They talk about what the Red Sox approach at the plate will be to replace the loss of David Ortiz bat, the impact of some players participating in the WBC, and of course the pitching rotation.
Guys talk the Bruins season so far and the All-Star Break
Guys discuss if or when the Bruins will fire Coach Julian
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.
Hour 4. Milo is done after advocating for pedophilia. The guys dive into the Red Sox roster.
Hour 3. Kirk and Gerry's dream of doing play-by-play is over.
President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski joins Kirk and Gerry in Fort Myers.
The Dallas Mavericks traded for Nerlens Noel, and dumped Andrew Bogut in the process, leading the guys to wonder why the Celts weren't pursuing 6'11" power forward/center.
Chris Mannix, Yahoo! Sports joined the show to give the latest on the NBA trade deadline.
The guys acknowledge that the Green-teamers will defend Danny whether he makes a move or not.
Dale, Michael and Keefe discuss the rumored increase in interest in Jimmy Garropolo and try and figure out what they'll get if they complete a trade for him.
Based on this string of tweets and his desire to fully test the free agent waters, it certainly seems logical that Marty Bennett will not remain with the Patriots for next year.
Dale, Keefe and Holley discuss the Celtics needs as the deadline looms. Even a minor move might make the team better.
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be. You will not find a better look behind the scenes of radio.
Kirk sits down with the legend Glenn Ordway to talk about when Glenn got fired here at WEEI, his start with the station, the controversial decisions he made when he was the Program Director, and he relationship with Eddie Andelman.
Kirk chats with David Duchovny about his current music tour, which takes him to the Wilbur on February 22nd, how David got his start in television, from his first stint on Red Shoe Diaries, becoming a superstar on the X-Files, and his hilarious appearances on the Larry Sanders Show. This is a fascinating discussion about show business and controlling your own career.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap Wednesday and Thursday's K&C shows on location in Ft. Myers
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be.
Rich Keefe & Ryan Davey talk best and worst movie/TV presidents. Plus the always important "This Week in #DORK" and the Pick of the Podcast.
Hour 4. Evan Drellich joins the show. A fight for the ages ensues.More from this show
Hour 1. Evan Drellich attacked Kirk and Gerry for their interview with John Farrell. Kirk had an accident.More from this show
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be.More from this show
Hour 1. Kirk and Gerry discuss the trade rumors surrounding the Celtics. Northampton ends High Five Fridays.More from this show
Hour 3. Kirk and Gerry ask Trenni why she didn't report Swihart's problems.More from this show