Opponent Opinions: QB Tom Brady

Quarterback Tom Brady probably has been the most-watched player in the NFL this season (with the possible exception of Brett Favre), and he started to heat up in New England's last two games before its bye. Brady has had his ups and downs against the Dolphins through the years and he discussed that issue, among other things, in a conference call with South Florida reporters.

Here is a transcript of Brady's conference call, as released by the Dolphins.

On the challenges that Jason Taylor poses: "I was a little disappointed when he signed back. I thought that once he left for Washington I'd never have to play him again. He's a great player. I've always enjoyed the rivalry with the Dolphins, and he's really been, he and Zach Thomas were really the defensive leaders for an awful long time. He's back to his usual playing style and he's playing great football, leads the team in sacks. He's a tenacious player, he's always been that way, and he gives great effort on every play. When he makes plays, the entire team rallies around it. We have to try to do a good job of trying to keep him out of the backfield and certainly keeping him out of the end zone. He was in the end zone last week after the fumble recovery, and he's been in the end zone a couple other times versus us. Have to try to eliminate those."

On what his relationship is like with Chad Henne and what he thinks it was like to be a four-year starter at Michigan: "I haven't had too many opportunities to be around Chad. He's younger that I am, and our paths haven't crossed very often. But I have obviously watched a lot of him when he was playing for the Wolverines and followed his career since he's been in the league. When he's had his opportunity like he's had this year, he's done a great job taking advantage of leading the team to some really big wins. To beat the Jets on the road last week gives you a lot of confidence as a quarterback. To play the way that he did at home against the Jets gives you a lot of confidence. He's a good player. He throws the ball with a lot of accuracy, he's got a really live arm. He's a great leader. From everything I've heard, he really loves the game, and those are the kind of players that coach [Bill] Parcells loves to have on his team."

On what his thoughts were when he saw the Wildcat last year: "It took everybody by surprise on our team, and it took the league by storm last year. That's all you heard this offseason was ‘whose going to be running the Wildcat, and which teams will be good at it,' and everyone has some version of it at this point. They've done a great job with it. Anytime you have Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams on the field at the same time, there's a lot of danger. They're big, powerful backs, and when the strength of your team is guys like that, then you have to find ways to get them the ball and they've done a great job of that. It still catches teams off guard, it's hard to defend, and you've got the threat of two of the best backs in the league running the ball. And then when they decide to throw it off of that, it's usually one-on-one coverage out there. It's a great weapon for the Dolphins and they've used it very effectively, used it to a division title last year. We have to do a good job of defending it."

On what he thinks of Joey Porter: "I have a lot of respect for Joey. I've had a lot of great matchups against him and he's a lot like Jason Taylor. They rush the passer, they get after the quarterback, they really rally the team. He had a great year last year, Joey did, and he's had a good year this year. They have two great ends, they have a really good defensive line and a great defensive front seven that are all big, powerful guys that are able to stop the run. We've got to play a very good game. I've had some of my worst games of my career against the Dolphins. It's always a team that gives us problems, and we've got to go out there and try to play our best game this week."

On what point he felt he was back at full strength and if he ever doubted he would return to pre-injure form: "I never really had a lot of doubts in the offseason. An ACL reconstruction surgery, there's a lot of people who have gone through that, a lot of guys come back form it very successfully. I never really had a doubt that that would be the case. And really I've felt good all season. I feel good, I haven't missed a practice all year, I've taken almost every throw in practice, so my health has been great whether it's my knee or my arm, things that have bothered me in the past, I'm feeling really good. I don't think too much about it anymore. I just go out there and I think that the challenging part for me every week is leading the team and getting the ball to the guys, and throwing the ball well. Those are the things that I'm always focused on, certainly not the injuries or anything like that."

On if this is a transition year for the team: "It has been quite a bit different. Anytime you lose [Mike] Vrabel, and [Larry] Izzo, and [Rodney] Harrison, and [Tedy] Bruschi, we lost a lot of valuable players with a lot of valuable experience. The reality is that it's been like that every year that I've been here I think because those guys have been a part of a lot of championships. You recognize that. We play some teams this year that have turned over half their roster. The Dolphins really turned over their roster last season and a little bit this season. So, with free agency and people needing to win and needing players, that's been the reality. So you have to sometimes replace the guys that have been really successful, Richard Seymour is another one we traded earlier this year, with younger guys, and with that, younger guys get opportunities. We were all young guys at one point, I was a young guy, I got the opportunity in my second year and tried to take advantage of it the best I could and I think we've had some young players, Darius Butler, and Patrick Chung, and Brandon McGowan, guys all new to the team that have really stepped in and played key roles for us."

On if he approaches the game any differently when he knows there are two rookie cornerbacks on the other side of the ball: "You would say yes because they're rookies, but I tell you, these two don't play like rookies. Sean Smith is a big kid, he's played every game this year. He's a rookie, but he's had a lot of playing experience, eleven or twelve games including the preseason. Vontae Davis probably played his best game last week against the Jets from what I saw. He's been in there quite a bit too this year rotating with Sean. They do a great job, two physical guys, they're big, they get their hands on the receivers, they can be very disrupting in the passing game. It's not really like you want to just lob the ball up and see if they can make the play. That's what [Mark] Sanchez tried to do last week and Vontae picked it off on the two point conversion. They have some playmakers back there. [Chris] Clemons was in there a lot last week, another young guy that's doing a good job for them. [Yeremiah] Bell and [Gibril] Wilson, I've played against those guys in the past, and they played very well against us. It's a good secondary and it's a great front seven. It's a very good defense that challenges you in a lot of ways."

On where he was on game days last season after his injury, and how much input he had game plan wise in assisting Matt Cassel: "I did my rehab at the stadium, so I was there every day and every week. On game day, I was I guess where most inactive players were, at home watching the game at home."

On the fact that Chad Pennington has also decided to handle his situation that way, and why he was comfortable handling the situation as such: "I had pretty major knee surgery, so standing up on the sideline for four hours wouldn't have been the best thing for my knee [laughter]. Coach told me to get my rehab done and we had Josh McDaniels as our offensive coordinator, so he sure as hell doesn't need much input from me, and Matt did a great job with the team last year. They both got their opportunities to advance, and I'm really proud of those guys. We had a great relationship, but they were doing a great job without me."

On how he explains his struggles against the Dolphins and if there are any common threads between the teams that he has faced over the years that give him difficulty: "They've played a really unique style for a lot of years. Rushing basically four guys, whether it was Trace Armstrong and Daryl Gardener, Jason Taylor obviously, and [Tim] Bowens, and they had three very athletic linebackers over the years. With different guys in there, and then with Sam Madison, and Patrick Surtain, and Brock Marion, and Arturo Freeman playing, and Sammy Knight played. Anytime a defense can rush four and put pressure on the quarterback like they could and still play basically a cover-two style defense, where the outside corners have help over the top and they can be very aggressive on underneath stuff, that to me is always the best defense. Few teams over the years were able to do that. Sometimes when you need to pressure the quarterback, you need to take one of those safeties and drop them down, it ends up singling the outside guys, which you tend to have more quick throws to the outside when you do that. They were just able to get to the passer because Jason, Jason primarily, and then the other group of guys, Adewale Ogunleye, he was there with Jason and had a great year one year. They were able to rush us and then cover up our guys on the outside. In order to complete passes, you had to hold onto the ball, but you couldn't hold onto the ball very long because they were going to sack you. You try to protect, and then you protect and you have a chance to get the ball [out], but they'd be covering all your guys. So it was tight man coverage with a great pass rush, and I threw for 70 yards a few times and three interceptions, and it was just awful. I learned a lot from those experience over the years playing against them, but there was always a lot of sleepless nights, like I said, before the games certainly and then after the games because we played so poorly against them."

On how Ben Watson fits into the offense: "Ben's had a great year. He's a big part of this offense, and anytime you have Wes [Welker] and Randy [Moss] split outside of you, they attract a lot of attention. Ben is a very athletic player, he's got great size for a tight end, 255-260 pounds, 6-4, but he runs like a receiver, so that's kind of the way tight ends are these days. Whether its Dustin Keller or Dallas Clark in that Tony Gonzalez mold, where you're big, physical, over powering the smaller guys, but you're faster than most of the bigger guys. Ben's been a huge part of this offense, he's made some really critical catches this season, and that's what we're going to need form him. That's the role that he's in and he's done a great job for us this year."

On if Lloyd Carr was underappreciated as the head coach at Michigan: "Yeah, I think he was underappreciated. Won a national championship in 1997, we had a lot of Big 10 championships over the years. He was a great man and a great coach. I love playing for him. He taught me a lot about how to play quarterback. He put a ton of pressure on the team to perform well, he was a really attention to detail type of coach. Then I can to the pros and played under coach [Bill] Belichick, which coach Carr really prepared me for that type of coach. I watch Michigan every week, and I'm one of those fans bitchin' at the TV screen when we're not doing well, so hopefully we get it turned around. We haven't had a great year this year, but if we beat Ohio State, it will be a good year. That's how it works with Michigan."

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