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Patriots bye week quotes

Here are some of the most interesting quotes coming out of Foxborough from Wednesday and Thursday, via the Patriots media relations department.

Tom Brady

Q: When you have so many players who haven’t been to the postseason before, do you ever offer advice to them about what to expect? Is it a lead-by-example kind of thing, or do you actually go and talk to somebody about it?

TB: Coach (Belichick) handles the team pretty well, so he’s got a great handle on what he thinks the team needs to hear. I think the most important thing is to go out and play well, to be at your best. It doesn’t matter if you’ve played or haven’t played or how many games you’ve player, you’ve got to be at your best, and I think we’re all counting on each other to be that way.

Q: But is this different? When you take the field, is there a different atmosphere and pace than a regular-season game?

TB: I think the execution has to be – you’re playing the best teams, so I think you just can’t make – the mistakes are really magnified, I think that’s the difference. You can’t – when you play a good team, it’s hard to beat good teams and not play your best. Typically, if you play less than what you’re capable of, you don’t get the win, because the other teams are just too good. Some days if you play a team that struggles and has been struggling, you may not play your best but you still may win. Usually it doesn’t happen that way in the playoffs, so that’s why we’ve got to be able to eliminate turnovers, not turn the ball over, just make the other team earn it, be at our best, be right on our assignments all the time, be [as] mentally and physically sharp as we could possibly be, and then see if the other team can beat us.

Q: Will you watch the Wild Card games this weekend? Do you think there is value in watching those games, or do you actually prefer not to?

TB: I’ve done both. I mean, I’ve watched and I haven’t watched. I don’t know, sometimes you get really riled up watching the game, and then you start cheering for teams to win or lose, and then, you know… Yeah, you don’t want to ride the wave, so I try to just – I’ll use my time as best [as] possible to prepare myself, so whatever it needs to be, that’s what it will be.

Q: Other NFL teams are interviewing Josh McDaniels and are interested in him. I suppose you’re not surprised by that, given what he’s accomplished here and throughout his career?

TB: No, I’m not surprised by much anymore in the NFL. He’s a great coach, and I said the other day, he’s one of my best buds, and I’ve been around a long time, so I know him pretty well. I’m glad he’s my coach.

Bill Belichick

BB: (Opening statement from Wednesday) We’re just working on some things that we feel like will help our football team here over this next few days. Three opponents we can possibly face, we’ll try to get some work done on them preliminarily until we know for sure who it is. Really we’re just trying to grind it out here and find ways to improve.

Q: Does that just mean splitting film three different ways of the three opponents or are there other ways you can scout the teams?

BB: We have people on our staff that are always working ahead, usually one week ahead or two weeks ahead in this case. They’re working on three teams and we’re working on things we need to work on relative to just the Patriots no matter who we play. So it’s really just a combination of those things.

BB: (On the history of the kicking game) ... Back when the game was invented and even back into the, let’s say the ‘30s and the ‘40s, [Robert] Neyland at Tennessee and a lot of his disciples followed the old rule of thumb on field position: inside your 10, punt on first down, inside your 20, punt on second down, inside your 30, punt on third down. You didn’t punt on fourth down until you got the ball outside of the 40-yard line, until you got close to midfield. You played defense, you played field position. Of course, we see a lot less kicking now than we saw back then and of course we see the specialists now that we didn’t see back then too. So you had the Sammy Baughs of the world, or all the single-wing tailbacks for that matter, that were punters first, runners second and passers third. The game, I would say, has gradually taken the emphasis off of that part of the game but it’s still a significant part of the game. I personally would love to see the kicking game remain as a very integral part of the game so that the kickoffs are returned and so that extra points are not over 99 percent converted because that’s not what extra points were when they were initially put into the game back 80 years ago, whatever it was.

Q: Would you be in favor of –

BB: I would be in favor of not seeing it be an over 99 percent conversion rate. It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players. It was a lot harder for them to do. The Gino Cappellettis of the world and so forth and they were very good. It’s not like it is now where it’s well over 99 percent. I don’t think that’s really a very exciting play because it’s so automatic. I don’t know how much excitement there is for the fans in a touchback. It’s one thing if it’s a great kick, it’s another thing when, let’s just say for example, over half the kicks are out of the end zone, then I wouldn’t really say it’s a great kick. It’s kind of almost a normal part of the game. I personally would love to see those plays be the impact plays that they’ve been. As you mentioned, where would last year’s Super Bowl have been without the 108-yard kickoff return. The play that that added to the game was a spectacular play. I mean forget about who you’re rooting for, but just as a fan of the game, it was a spectacular play in the game that I think all fans – unless you’re a 49er fan, but you know – that all fans objectively love to see those plays as part of the game.

Q: Talking about predictions, do you have a good feel for what will happen in these four games this weekend?

BB: No. I don’t think anybody – I mean, how can you? Look at last weekend. I don’t know. I saw something where Pittsburgh had like a one percent chance of being in the playoffs or whatever it was, some ridiculously low number. Yet they were within however close you want to call it to being in the playoffs – a missed field goal. However you want to slice it. However much that field goal missed by – a foot or whatever it was. Nobody knows. The league is so competitive that – look, it isn’t even who has the better team. It’s just who plays better. Who plays better on that day, how those two teams match up and who plays better in that one competitive situation. It’s not four out of seven or two out of three. You get one opportunity to do it and whatever team can perform better on that day moves on. Who knows who that’s going to be?

Rob Ninkovich

Q: How do you break down everything that you guys have done in the past? Do you even do that – break down the 17 weeks?

RN: You kind of look back on some of the things that hurt you and you work on those. You go through some of the games that could possibly – re-watch the Cincinnati game, see the things that worked for them and they’ll probably try against you. Just try and work hard this week to improve on yourself and then whatever team that we find out that we do play then prepare for them next week.

Q: Is it dangerous to watch or would you like to watch the games this weekend? Talking to Tom Brady this weekend, he said he gets involved in the game when he watches.

RN: I’ll definitely enjoy relaxing and watching the games and just seeing who we’re going to play. For me, it’s a little bit different for me because I’m a d-lineman. I’ll study the tackles and what types of sets and their style of play as opposed to Tom who has to watch everybody. I just watch one guy and see what his tendencies are and certain things that could me out during the game.

Q: Are you keeping notes?

RN: No, when I watch during the week I will but at home I’ll leave the notebook in the bag.

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