“I think that is why we have been able to make improvements over the course of the year. Because it is not like, ‘OK, guys, this week is not that important.' It is always like, ‘Look, this week is important because it is only going to build on next week.' Hopefully we climb that mountain over the course of the long season, and you get to a point at the end where you are performing as well as you have ever performed.”
Brady is big on not wasting opportunities to improve. Each milestone matters. He describes the progression as follows: Minicamp helps you prepare for training camp. Training camp helps you prepare for the early part of the season. The early part of the season gets you ready the post-Thanksgiving stretch run. The stretch run leads to now.
During the season, Brady says, once one week ends, “the clock is ticking on the next week.” Every day, Brady grinds away like a practice-squad player trying to avoid the waiver wire.
“It never ends with Tom,” veteran receiver Deion Branch said. “Sunday morning before the game in the meetings, we're still going over things.”
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork — one of only three players left from New England's Super Bowl-winning run, along with Brady and Branch, who left and came back — marvels at the way Brady works. Sometimes, Wilfork says, he'll see Brady doing drills in practice and wonder: “Man, you have been doing this for so long, and you are still worried about your footwork?”
But as Wilfork and his teammates have come to learn, it's those little details that end up making a big difference.
THE LEGACY QUESTION
Much of the talk this week in Foxborough was about legacies. As consistently great as they have been, Belichick and Brady haven't won the Super Bowl in eight years. If they were to win this one, the thinking goes, it would cement their legacy (as if it weren't cemented already).
“Those guys have had tremendous success over the years,” special-teams ace Matthew Slater said. “I'm sure when their careers are over, they'll be able to look back and be able to really appreciate what they have done. We're just focused on the here and now. I'm sure they would tell you that same thing.”
Belichick: “Right now, I'm trying to beat the Ravens. That's where our football team's challenge is, that's what we're focused on. The rest of it is for another time or another place.”
Brady: “To tell you the truth, I don't really think about any of that. I'm just trying to win a football game this week.”
Everything around them changes. The message remains the same.
Distributed by MCT Information Services