Q: You guys do a good job of putting games behind you, win or lose, but is there something advantageous to hanging onto that feeling a bit after an ugly win like last Sunday?
TB: I mean, it’s always an emotional game. I think we put a lot out on the field. We put a lot into the preparation throughout the course of the week and you’d love for it to go well. Sometimes it doesn’t always go very well. But you put as much into it the following week as well. I think that’s what you can afford during the regular season, where you know there’s a game the next week, like we have this week against the Dolphins. Hopefully everyone used the rest a little bit to their advantage and we can go into his week with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. There’s a lot at stake.
Q: You do not need any extra motivation? That game did it?
TB: No, I don’t think you can draw much from previous games. You have experiences, like for example in the San Francisco game, we were down 28 points, so if we’re down 28 points again – which I hope we’re not – at least you can say, ‘Well, we’ve come back from this before.’ So I think you can draw on those experiences, but this week is going to be its own separate game and we’re going to have to go out there an earn it.
Q: As a leader, is there a constant line you need to toe between being critical and motivating and also being supportive? Is that a constant balance where you have to consider what a guy needs and how you should approach him?
TB: Sure. Well, we get that from our coaches a lot, too. I think we kind of take the lead from our head coach, who always talks about us getting better and making improvements and certainly not focusing on the things that were doing well, but the things more that we need to improve. As a veteran, you kind of take the lead from him. We all have our own feelings about how things are and we express those in different ways. It’s all in hopes of winning games and to be at our best when we need it the most.
Q: Is there a constant need for you to go to what you understand as being necessary to win a championship since you’ve played in and won championships and to express that to other guys? Do you ever have doubt that they’ll be willing to give the same amount as you or will ever really understand what it’s about?
TB: Every team is different and every player is different and the motivations are different for different players, but ultimately, we’re all here to win and that’s what our ultimate motivation is as a team. Part of being part of a team is being selfless and giving up whatever individual goals you may have for the benefit of the team. It’s all about teamwork and what we can build together and I’m only as good as the guys around me; they’re only as good as I am. I think part of that is motivating each other so that we can all be on the same page and we can all be at our best.
Q: Does the team’s sense of urgency change at all this week, knowing what’s at stake this week and beyond?
TB: I think we prepare pretty hard all season. It’s the last game of the year, so it’s out last opportunity o make improvements before the playoffs. Hopefully we can get some guys back. I know we’ve been battling through some little injuries over the course of the season, but this is a time for us to be at our best.
Q: You have talked about riding the wave of emotions. After a stream of great games, you have to remember that nothing’s been achieved yet. And then after a strong of not as good games, are you reminded to stay the course and figuring out what you did wrong?
TB: I think it’s about playing consistent football and I think we’ve got to do a better job of that. It hasn’t been as consistent as we would have liked, but we’ve still got a chance to improve it. And really, if we’re consistent this week, which I hope we are, that’s ultimately what’s going to help us win this game, not really what happened in the previous month or two months. Our goals are ahead of us and that’s where we’re looking and that’s the direction we’re heading in.
Q: Coach Belichick has talked about how the stability of you and him being together here for so long. How has that helped you over the years?
TB: There’s no better coach out there and there’s no one that I’d ever want to play for. He brings a consistency to our team in terms of our motivation, our focus, our execution, his expectations for us. I think winning is the most important thing and that’s the most important thing to him, and that’s what it’s all about, it’s a competition. There’s a test at the end of every week to see how well we did, and I think it’s important for us to – it’s great when you don’t play your best to still win the games. You play better some weeks and lose games, but it comes down to wining the games and beating the opponent that you’re facing and that’s the goal of coach Belichick. And [it’s] what he talks about and preaches to us every single week about our execution and our attention to detail so that we can go out and be at our best competitively so we can score more points than the other team.
Q: You meet with him every week, correct?
TB: Multiple times.
Q: Do you still lean things from him?
TB: Of course, oh yeah. I mean, you can never stop learning in this game and you can never stop improving. He’s been at it a for a lot longer than I have and I’m sure he feels like he’s still improving ad a coach and I’d agree. The things that we talk about, the things that; we’re trying to accomplish, those change. There are times when game plan changes or the opponent changes, but what you do individually to prepare yourself needs to be better. Certainly I’ve found ways to do that as I’ve gained more experience that I can prepare better and I can hopefully be a better leader and teammate and so forth, and ultimately go out there and execute well enough to win.
Q: Do you try and go in there and stump him with something?
TB: There’s not much I can do to do that. He’s got a great memory, so his history lessons are some of the most fun meetings that we have. When he gets to talking about previous players that he coached against or that he coached with, there are some pretty great stories and some history. Because I’m a pretty big football fan, it’s nice to hear those.
Q: In your time here, how important has the final game of the season been in regards to providing springboard momentum into the playoffs?
TB: It depends on the year. I don’t think that – I think you want to be playing well so you have confidence going into the playoffs. There’s no question about that, but like I said, whatever we do this weekend isn’t going to have any bearing on what happens in the playoff [game] the following week. What’s going to have a bearing on the playoff [game] is how we prepare for that week and the opponent and our scheme and our execution. We’re trying to build some confidence this week in what we’re doing, go out and have good practices, and go out and see if we can execute better than we have been.
Q: Is it important to you that you played Miami fairly recently and maybe they haven’t changed as much as if you had played them earlier in the season?
TB: Yeah, well, I’ve seen everything. It’s pretty easy to get up to speed when it’s only been two or three weeks. It is pretty fresh in our mind of how they played us, the things they do well. Certainly, they gave us everything we could handle. They’re a good team. There’s nothing easy about this team. They’ve been on the short end of a few losses, but they challenge you in a lot of different ways.
Q: Have you seem any changes since you last played them?
TB: Not really. Schematically, no.
Q: Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti have been calling Patriots games for decades. Gino retired last year and Gil will be retiring this year. Can you talk about what they’ve meant to you over the years?
TB: It’s a pretty great twosome they’ve had for a long time. Gino was a hell of a player her and Gil, it’s always nice to see both those guys after the game or before the game, and the kind of support that they’ve given us over the years. I don’t get to hear them much on the radio, obviously, but on some of those highlight videos that we’ve had where you hear Gil’s calls, it’s pretty special. Yeah, they’ll be missed; they’re a great group.
Q: Are you aware of the playoff scenarios?
TB: Sure, yeah. It would be hard [not to be].
Q: So when you take the field, are you going to be aware of whether a bye is a possibility based on what happens earlier in the day with Houston?
TB: I’m sure we’ll all be aware of that, yeah. No question. But I don’t think that changes what our goal is for the weekend. I think we’re trying to win this game regardless. It could be different if some other teams win, but that’s really out of our control. We’re just going to go out and try to win.