By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There was a lighter moment during Tom Brady’s press conference on Tuesday at Gillette Stadium, when the 42-year-old quarterback was reminded of his own recent commentary that he is no spring chicken.
“That was kind of a joke,” Brady replied. “You guys take everything so literal. That was a JOKE. That was just, I was kidding around.”
Kidding or not, the quarterback did make an interesting statement last week with regard to the development of the young receivers on the Patriots. When asked last week what kind of impact he can have on young receivers growing in the New England offense, Brady said that “I don’t want to spend my mental energy on things that aren’t really my job.”
This being Boston — where everything is a huge deal — and this being a season where the actual football games are so one-sided that there’s plenty of room for extraneous talk, that comment dominated the discussion on the local airwaves in the days leading up to the game in Washington.
This week, though, Brady struck a noticeably different tone when talking about the importance of work on the practice field — not for himself, necessarily, but for his younger teammates.
“Practices are very important for me because it gives me confidence in what we’re doing, it helps me anticipate things with the players that I’m playing with. So even if I maybe … you know, have done things, I still recognize that a lot of other players haven’t done those things. So my connection with them is very important,” Brady said Tuesday. “Even though I’ve been doing it, the two of us need to do it together. Football is a very coordinated game — everybody needs to be thinking the same thing, reacting the same way, anticipating the same way in order for it to be successful. So that’s why us being out there as a unit is very important — practicing, executing at practice so you can build confidence. And confidence builds trust. And the trust leads to good execution when you’re out on the field.”
In Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Redskins, Brady certainly expanded his comfort zone a bit, targeting Matt LaCosse with four passes, targeting Sony Michel with three, and targeting Ryan Izzo and Jakobi Meyers with two passes apiece. Those four players combined to catch seven of those passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, serving as a significant complement to what Julian Edelman, James White and Josh Gordon bring to the passing game.
As for his own development in practice, Brady likened the sport to just riding a bike at this point.
“I’ve had a lot of practices. If you think, probably 100 practices on average, maybe more than that … 120 times 20 years, just professional,” said Brady. “[Plus] all through high school, college. So football I would say is very much like riding a bike for me now. I mean, I know what to do, I know where to look. I wish I didn’t make mistakes when I was out there.”
That final note may have been a nod to his pair of red-zone interceptions thrown in the past two weeks, but nevertheless, the QB seemed to make it clear on Tuesday that time on the practice field is valuable so that he can develop a working chemistry with the players to whom he’s throwing the football.
Perhaps that was a bit of a correction after coming off a certain way last week. Or perhaps everybody just took his words too literally.