FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's been a little edgy. There could be myriad reasons for this. Lack of sleep. Financial pressures. His freakin' defense can't stop anyone, which means he's got to lead the offense to 30-or-more points every game despite running an offense without a potent perimeter threat.
On Wednesday, I asked Brady if he ever concerns himself with the performance of the Patriots' defense while the game's ongoing.
"Well, were all pretty cognizant of the (game) situation," Brady began. "If youre up seven in the fourth quarter, you dont want to throw an interception like I did last week (the end-zone pick against Washington in the fourth). Thats not necessarily complementary football right there. A lot of it is just understanding the situation. Look, when you're playing ahead, you have to play smart. When youre behind, sometimes you have to take more chances."
What the defense does, though, is certainly impactful on the offense. They have done some good things -- in the red zone this season, the New England defense has turned touchdowns into field goals time after time.
But the length of opposing drives, both in yards and time elapsed, is a consistent issue.
The Patriots had the ball once in the first quarter against the moribund Colts. The Redskins held the ball for 37 minutes on Sunday; the Patriots for 23.
"I think the big part of it, for the defense, however theyre going to play, it doesnt matter, because we have to do our job," said Brady. "They get the ball to start the game, who cares what happens on the opening drive; when we get the ball, we have to go down and do something with it."
That reference to the start of the game, while innocuous, is another interesting one because while the Patriots used to be incredible starting games, they haven't been over the last two months.
In four of their last seven games, the Patriots have been held without points on their opening drive. They've scored 26 first-quarter points. In the first three games of this season, they scored touchdowns on their first possession.
In 2007, the Patriots scored on their opening drive for the first eight weeks of the season.
What needs to improve with the offense?
"Everything," said Brady. "Everything we need to improve. Everything needs to be better. Our execution of the passing game can be better, our execution of the run game and every position. Its just a matter of us committing ourselves on a daily basis to be more mentally tough than what the drain of the season does to you and to overcome fatigue and being tired and mentally being drained a little bit to putting your best foot forward to still going out there and doing whatever it takes to be healthy and prepare mentally and physically to go out there and play your best game.
"I think thats really been the focus for the guys this week," added Brady. "We have a huge challenge ahead of us and its a very important game for us."