On Sunday, for the first time since week three, the New England Patriots did not have enough (or frankly any) answers for an opponent. The team struggled to move the ball on offense, failed to generate momentum on defense, and once again had issues in the kicking game. As a result, the Tennessee Titans blew the team out 34-10 while dominating from start to finish in all three phases of the game.
One day removed from the debacle, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined Westwood One Radio host Jim Gray to talk about the game — and he praised the Titans’ performance. “I thought Tennessee played pretty well,” Brady said about the team coached by former New England linebacker and Brady’s ex-teammate Mike Vrabel. “I think if they play like that all year, I think a lot of teams will have a hard time beating them. Just like we did.”
Brady also acknowledged that playing the perfect complementary football the Titans played on Sunday is a recipe for success also for his own team: “If we play well like in the same they played well, teams will have a hard time beating us.” In order to do that, however, New England needs to improve its consistency on offense, defense and special teams — and according to Brady, there is also one more thing the team needs to do.
“We’re still trying to figure out in ways what our identity is,” Brady told Gray. “I know we’ll be searching for that as long as the season goes. That’s part of the football season. But we really have to work hard this week to figure out the things we need to do that are going to help us the most going forward. No one really has any margin [for] error this time of year. We’re all just at where we’re at. Teams are built.”
The 41-year old, who is having a statistical down-season when compared to his last three years, addd that the Patriots have already shown what they can do well. “Our identity is there to a degree,” Brady said. “We need to shape it in a way that allows us more opportunities to win. From a players’ standpoint, it’s all about us executing, bringing a great attitude to practice, practicing hard and preparing.”
“That’s the best way to gain confidence going into the game,” Brady said before digging deeper into what has to be done to re-gain confidence. “Our job is to perform at a high level. When you perform the way we did [agains the Titans], nobody feels good about it. You don’t sleep. You think about it all day. It bothers you. But at the same time, you have resolve. You say, ‘Look, this is what happened. We take ownership of it. And we have to make sure as we move forward, we learn from these mistakes.’”
Learning from mistakes is one part of getting back to winning. Another is getting players back from injury, particularly on offense: New England played the Titans without its starters at tight end and right guard, saw its top two wide receivers banged up, and had to shuffle its offensive line because of issues at the two tackle spots. Along the way, the team also had to turn to its third-string tight end all while reintegrating a running back coming off injury.
“We love having everyone healthy,” Brady said when asked a question about tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is dealing with ankle and back injuries and missed three of New England’s last four games because of them. “We love having Gronk out there. [...] I know different guys are battling through some things this time of year. It’s a very physical sport. But we’ll see how it all plays out over the next six weeks.”
Brady, however, sounds confident that it will play out in New England’s favor: “I think all of our best football is ahead of us.”