FOXBORO – Tom Brady was asked Wednesday if, because of their offseason acquisitions, expectations were high in 2014.
Certainly, landing Darrelle Revis qualifies as a big acquisition, but his addition came on the heels of losing a very, very good corner in Aqib Talib. Other than Revis, the Patriots added to their program two role players – corner Brandon Browner and wide receiver Brandon LaFell.
The idea the Patriots are “loading up”, “going for it” and are suddenly “all in” creates content. But it’s a bit of a myth.
They are – and have been for more than a decade – all in every season. Brady diplomatically made that point in his reply.
“I think we’ve set a pretty high bar, and I think that’s what we’re out here to achieve, and that’s what athletics are about,” Brady stated. “Competition at the highest level in the NFL brings out the best in everybody. There is only one reason to play this game, and that’s to try to win every time you take the field. If you like that, then this is probably a good program for you. If you don’t like that, you probably won’t last long.”
Just because there are some new guys in the locker room, everyone isn’t going to try harder to win. The assimilation is for the acquisitions.
“The competition starts in the meeting rooms, goes onto the practice fields, certainly onto the game field, and we hold each other accountable for the highest expectations for each individual player, whatever role it may be,” Brady continued. “And everybody’s role is important, everybody’s role is different, and no one can do your role except yourself. That’s what makes a really good player and teammate is when you don’t have to rely on someone to do their job. You just know they’ll do their job, which really frees you up to do your job.”
Has Brady seen indications that this team is headed in the right direction?
“It’s still a building process,” he pointed out. “There have only been 16-17 practices at this point, and probably 11-12 in pads, so we’ll see where we’re at. It’s still pretty early for us to figure out the dynamics of the team. And I think the coaching, the mental toughness, the discipline, the work ethic – those things don’t pay off in September. When you really see them is in December. You want to see what kind of team you are in those moments when your back is against the wall, when you’ve had to deal with all these different things that come up like injuries and bad bounces and everyone telling you you’re great and everyone telling you you suck. If you ride that wave and then at the end of the year you’re not mentally tough, then you’re not going to do much. The spring camps lead to training camp, and training camp leads to a good September and September leads to a good October.
“You’ve got to build the whole way through, and you can’t think, ‘Oh, well we’re there,’ Brady added. "There are no teams that are Super Bowl-ready at this point. There are probably some guys that probably think they are, but in my experience, you’ve got to be battle-tested, and you only do that through going out there and playing games and see what kind of team you’re made of and execute under intense circumstances, day after day, week after week and month after month.”
The Patriots have done that at about a 70-percent clip since 2001. The new guys have never been on teams like this. In other words, it’s the same as it ever was.