BOSTON (CBS) — If the season ended today, the Patriots would have a first-round bye and a guaranteed home playoff game. That’s a pretty good place to be, but — of course — the season does not end today, and the team’s oldest and most experienced player is well aware of that fact.

That player is Tom Brady, who sat down with ESPN’s Mike Tirico for an interview. The quarterback seemed pleased with the team’s current position, but with the Patriots coming off the bye and preparing for the home stretch, he indicated the real season is essentially just beginning.

“We’ve incorporated a lot of new players. We’re at 7-2, we’ve battled through some pretty tough games, but hopefully we’re at a point where we can learn from our mistakes, we can build on the things we’ve done well,” Brady told Tirico. “This is when the good teams really start to separate themselves. We’re in decent position, but it all depends on what we do going forward as to the outcome of the season.”

That journey begins in earnest on Monday night, when Brady and the Patriots face the red-hot Carolina Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton, who is one of a handful of electric young signal-callers who are changing the definition of quarterback. Brady, a certain Hall of Famer, said even he tries to learn from the younger QBs.

“Well, I mean, they all have so much ability – way more ability than I’ve ever had,” Brady said. “The game is evolving – it always does. … I look at those guys and try to learn from the things that they’re doing, because ultimately we’re all trying to do the same thing – get the team down the field and get into the end zone – but there are different ways to be able to do it.”

Brady was also asked to take a wide view of his career, and the 36-year-old made it crystal clear that he’s not one to ever rest on his laurels.

“I feel like I have a lot [of football left]. I’m sure a lot of players have felt that way, too. It’s whether a team wants you or whether you’re still capable of doing the job,” Brady said.  “I think the important part is for me in the offseason and for me during the season, I want to earn the respect of the guys that I play with today. You don’t want to sit here and have your guys respect you for what you did 10 years ago, because those things aren’t really important to me. What’s important to me is that I show up to be a leader, to perform at a high level.”



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