PATRIOTS QB TOM BRADY
CONFERENCE CALL WITH BALTIMORE MEDIA
January 6, 2015
Q: What are your thoughts heading into this game against a team you've seen a lot of over the years?
TB: They're a great team. So we've got a big challenge. They've already won one game on the road in the playoffs. We're going to get their best. We're going to have to be at our best.
Q: What are your thoughts on the rivalry with Terrell Suggs?
TB: Well, he's a great player. He's been a great player in the league for 12 years. He's having a great season; he and [Elvis] Dumervil are two of the great pass rushers in the NFL. I've got a lot of respect for those guys. They play hard. They are obviously a big part of the reason why their defense is ranked as high as it is. They really get after the quarterback. Suggs and Dumervil are just great players. They'll be a great challenge for us, trying to figure out how to slow those guys down, but hopefully we can find a way.
*Q: Going back to this past offseason, were you trying to recruit Steve Smith, Sr. at all? How bad did you want him to come to New England? *
TB: You know, Steve is a great player. He's obviously done a great job for that team. He's had a great season; he's really a dynamic playmaker for them. He's been that way when he was at Carolina and he continued with the Ravens. He's got, obviously, a great will. He's got great hands; he's just one of the great all-around players in the NFL. He's tough to slow down; hopefully we can find a way to do that.
Q: You and Joe Flacco are two of the most successful quarterbacks in playoff history, at least among active guys. What makes a quarterback good in the postseason?
TB: Well, I've been fortunate to play on a great team. I think that's more so than anything. We've got a great group of teammates, guys that really work hard and put the team first. That's what this game is all about. It's everybody, all 46 active guys that are playing well and playing at their highest level. That's what it's always been about. There's no one player that can win a game for you – it takes every player that participates to win. I've just been very fortunate to play on a great team over the years.
Q: What's it like to throw to Rob Gronkowski? What changes have you seen from him as he progresses and matures?
TB: He's a big part of our offense. He gets a lot of looks. He's really a good player; he takes a lot of pride in blocking. He's a good blocker, he's a good route runner [and] he's got great hands. He's a great player for our offense. When he's in there it just makes everyone else better. It's good to have him in there.
Q: Does anybody trash talk to you more than Terrell Suggs?
TB: Truthfully, we've never said much to each other on the field or off the field. I just have a lot of respect for him as a player and what he's able to accomplish and what he's always been able to accomplish. I'm not one to really say much. Over the years he hasn't said much. He's just got a great knack for the game and he's a great player. We've got to figure out a way to slow him down.
Q: Terrell Suggs won't refer to you by your name. Does that seem respectful or does that bother you at all?
TB: You know, I haven't even thought about it. Like I said, he's a great player. He's just someone that we're trying to prepare for and we know that we're going to get his best. I didn't know that so it doesn't bother me at all. People can call me whatever they want, I don't really care.
Q: What do you see from the Ravens secondary, particularly at cornerback where they've run through a lot of guys this year?
TB: It seems pretty well settled now. Lardarius Webb is one of the best corners in the NFL. [Rashaan] Melvin's done a great job when they've put him over on the offensive left. He's really settled down in that position. [Anthony] Levine and [Matt] Elam both in the slot playing really well, big hard hitting safeties that really do a great job making people pay when they catch the ball. We've got to be conscious of that. They've got some really great linebackers, [C.J. Mosley and [Daryl] Smith, that cover a lot of ground. They're really ball-hawks. It's a great team defense. They've always had a great defense. They're always one of the toughest defenses we play all year.
Q: You've talked about how the past matchups don't mean anything. How important are turnovers going to be given that's the reason the Ravens have won two of the three games at Gillette?
TB: Turnovers, third-down, red area – I think those three elements will play obviously the biggest role in the game. You can't give these guys extra possessions. If you turn it over, you're not scoring points and you can't score 10 points or 13 points and expect to beat them. We're going to have to put points on the board. We're going to have to convert third downs and we're going to have to score when we get in the red area. They're one of the best red area defenses. They really challenge you. We're going to have to make a lot of tight throws into tight coverage down there. We're going to have to make the plays that are there to be made.
Q: You've mentioned the outside pass rushers a lot, but what kind of challenges does the Ravens depth on the defensive line present for you?
TB: They come at you from everywhere. They've got guys who are interior pass rushers: Haloti [Ngata] and Brandon Williams, who's a great player. They've got the rookie first-round pick [Timmy] Jernigan, he's a great player. [Chris] Canty, I've always had a lot of respect for him. They roll a lot of guys in and out of there. They've got a lot of different guys that play in the front. They give you a lot of different looks. Dean [Pees] has always done a great job with the different defensive looks. It's tough to really nail down where they're at, but we're just going to have to adjust to whatever we see and try to block it as best we can.
Q: You've won Super Bowls and been at your best in the postseason. How does that quality impress you in Joe Flacco and what he's been able to do as a postseason quarterback?
TB: He's done a great job. He's just a great player. He does a good job in the regular season; he does a good job in the postseason. He's always doing good. He's a franchise quarterback and he's had a great career. Certainly he's played some great games against us and we've got to find ways to slow their whole offense down. They played great last week in Pittsburgh and it seems like they're on a roll.
PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: Why do you think the Ravens and Joe Flacco have had success against you guys in the playoffs in the past?
BB: I think all those games in the past don't really mean too much this week. We've played them in various times throughout the years and each game had some characteristics. But right now, this game is all about this week and how these two teams match up – not any other teams. That's really all we're focused on.
Q: What are your thoughts on Joe Flacco in general as a quarterback?
BB: Great, really good. The guy is a great player. I think he's a really solid performer all the way around; does a very good job on all passes. He's good on play-action; he's obviously good on the deep ball. He's as good a deep ball passer as there is in football. [He] does a good job of using his outlet receivers – the tight ends, the backs. [He has] good mobility, good feet, does a good job of keeping plays alive – not so much scrambling to run, although he can do that, but definitely scrambling to buy more time [and] gives his receivers a chance to uncover [and] make plays down the field. [He's a] smart guy, takes care of the ball; really complete game. I think he's a really good player.
Q: What was your impression when you saw that the Ravens were coming to Foxborough? What did you see from them last week in Pittsburgh?
BB: I think the Ravens are one of the most complete, well-rounded teams in the league. They've won a lot of games. John [Harbaugh] has done a great job with that team, as he always does. They're good on offense: they can run the ball, they're good in the passing game [and] they make big plays. They're good on defense: they stop the run, they hit the quarterback, they're really good in the red area [and] they're a good third down team. And they're excellent on special teams. They lead the league in kickoff returns, punting, kickoffs. So they're strong in every area.
Q: Why do you think they give you such a hard time at your place?
BB: I just answered that question. We played them last year, we've played them in previous years. They've won some; we've won some. There have been some great games, close games. The teams compete hard against each other, so we'll see what happens this week. I don't think any of those games really matter.
Q: Steve Smith, Sr. said he was interested in you guys as a free agent. What are your thoughts on him as a player and your interest in him when he was a free agent?
BB: Steve's had a real good career. I think he's a real good player on all three levels: short, intermediate and deep. He's got good run-after-catch skills, so he can take a short pass a long way. [He is a] good route runner and he's made some big plays on the deep ball with his speed and ball skills and downfield judgment and obviously with a quarterback who can throw it very well down there. Yeah, he's a dangerous guy.
Q: Can you talk about the chess match that goes into facing the Ravens from a schematic standpoint, especially you guys trying to match with [defensive coordinator] Dean Pees, who you know well, and [offensive coordinator] Gary Kubiak?
BB: Look, I have a lot of respect for John and his staff – [special teams coordinator/associate head coach] Jerry [Rosburg], Dean, Gary and all the rest of the coaches. They do a great job. They have a lot of good players. It's a big challenge for us, but that's the way it is every week. Every team has good coaches and good players and you have to look at the individual matchups and what that team does and how you think they'll play you and how you think you can neutralize their strengths. Yeah, they have a good coaching staff. They have good schemes. They're a solid fundamental team. That's a big challenge for our staff, our players, our entire organization. They're tough. We'll all have to do a good job. It won't be easy.
Q: A lot of the names and faces have changed since the last time you met the Ravens in the playoffs, but are they a similar team in terms of style of play?
BB: I think that defensively and in the kicking game, the schematics, there's a lot of carryover; less so on the offensive side of the ball, although some of the players are the same. Talking about Joe Flacco, that's a different scheme, but still the same player. But I think offensively they're a little different than they were the last time when we played them last year.
Q: What have defenses done to try to limit the impact of Rob Gronkowski? What are your thoughts on his development as a tight end the past few years?
BB: I think Rob has worked really hard on all areas of his game: running game, passing game and all the things involved with that – red area, play-action, third down, different locations that he's been aligned in: in the backfield, on the line, flexed out, outside. He's developed a lot of different aspects to his game. He'll just try to continue to be able to threaten the defense in different ways. I think he's improved in all those little things and a variety of things so he has different tools that he can use to try to help himself. He's really worked hard to study those areas, improve his techniques and he's in good physical condition. He's a hardworking guy.
Q: Without Ed Reed and Ray Lewis around, the defense has changed in terms of leadership and abilities. They've added Elvis Dumervil and a couple other guys. How have you seen it evolve since the departure of Ray and Ed?
BB: We played against them last year. I think that we've already played a team without those guys.
Q: But in a playoff situation. You don't see it any different?
BB: I mean, I see this year as being different from any other year. I think the most similar to this year would be last year. But I don't really think last year has too much to do with it either because there are a lot of things that have changed from the matchup last year. We have different players; they have different players. They have a new offensive coordinator. I think there are a lot of things that are different. I think this game will come down to the matchup between these two teams this week. That's what it will come down to – not something that happened five years ago, or 10 years ago or one year ago. I don't really see what that has to do with this game.
Q: Tom Brady and Joe Flacco have been two of the most successful playoff quarterbacks. What have you seen from them that makes them elevate their game?
BB: I think they're both pretty good players any time they play. I don't think it's limited to any particular situation. Joe Flacco has been a good player since he came into the league. We've played them early in the year, opening, first [or] second game of the year. Some seasons we've played them at the end of the year. We've played them in the middle of the year. He's good every year: beginning, middle or end of the season. You could probably say the same thing about Brady.
Q: What have you seen from Justin Forsett?
BB: [I've] really been impressed with Forsett. I think he's really shown the ability to be productive consistently on a lot of levels. He reads blocking schemes very well, sets up blocks well, has got good vision and he makes a lot of yards on his own. He breaks tackles, he's got good quickness, he can elude people and makes plays in space in the open field, but he also does a good job of running through tackles and making tough yards. He does a great job of reading the blocking schemes and setting up blocks for the linemen, particularly on the linebackers on the second level to get through the line of scrimmage. He's also helped them in the passing game. He's been a really productive player that's ground out some tough yards, but also has made a lot of big plays and critical plays for them.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Ravens pass rush and the importance of keeping Tom Brady upright?
BB: I think the Ravens have a good pass rush. They do a good job of pressuring the quarterback. They have a lot of good rushers. They have good edge rushers, good inside rushers and they use a lot of scheme pass rush ideas in passing situations. They play [Pernell] McPhee inside and moving him around; [Terrell] Suggs. They have different combinations; using a linebacker to pressure with [Daryl] Smith and [C.J.] Mosley. It's a combination of all those things. But they can push the pocket inside, they can rush the edge outside and they run games and stunts and those kind of things well too. It's good. It's a real good pass rush group; as good as we've seen.
Q: How valuable has Jamie Collins been for you as an all-around defender? What's has his progression been like? BB: Jamie is a good player. He's had a lot of different responsibilities for us: playing inside, playing outside, nickel and dime situations, those roles have changed for him a little bit too based on a number of circumstances for us: scheme and other player availability and so forth. He's got a lot of versatility. He's a smart guy. He is able to handle quite a bit. He's got good physical skills to play the run, cover, rush the passer, play in-line, play in space. He's done a good job for us.