FOXBORO – Two days after the Patriots watershed loss to the Chiefs back in 2014, Tom Brady toiled through a Wednesday press conference that was marked by furrowed brows and questions that began, “How concerned are you . . . "
Moments after he was done at the podium, he beat the media back into the team’s locker room. I’d already slipped out ahead of the pack to try and catch him for a brief side chat.
Brady saw me, smiled and kept moving. “Rough crowd out there today,” I asked. Brady smiled and said, “Yeah, talk to me next month.”
The quarterback knew that the bludgeoning at Arrowhead was a short-lived thing. Tighten up the protection, ratchet up the urgency, grow a pair and things would be fine. No such thing as a finished product in October.
He was right.
There’s a little less to go on after this latest loss to the Chiefs. This one wasn’t as unsightly as the one in 2014 but there are also more moving parts on both sides of the football than there were back then. Further, Brady didn’t sound the alarm in 2014 that there was something lacking in the team’s overall competitiveness.
Wednesday, I asked Brady if a team can easily change its stripes when it comes to things like effort, commitment and urgency.
“What you are in September is different than what you’re going to be as the season goes on,” Brady began. “You’re trying to see where your deficiencies are and you’re trying to make improvements. Obviously, what we did the other night is not good enough by any means, in any particular phase of the game, at any position. When you get outscored by 21 points or outgained by 200 yards in the fourth quarter, there’s a lot of things that need adjusting . . .
"[New Orleans] isn’t going to make it easy on us,” Brady added. “We have to go earn it, just like the last team. There’s not a bunch of easy plays out there. There’s no magic play you can call. You’ve just got to make no excuse and go make the play. We’re all going to be challenged with that opportunity.”
It seemed, as Brady continued, that he would really like to see people competing at about “hair on fire” level at all times. And he continued to intimate that’s not what he’s seeing.
“I think [will] is important and you bring it every day,” he said. “There’s urgency in practice and the coaches put a lot of pressure on us. Veteran players and leaders put a lot of pressure on you because you’re trying to perform at a very high level. When you get beat the way we got beat I think that sat with everyone for a very long time. We’re going to have to go do something about it. I mean no one else can do it for us. We’re the only guys in the locker room. No one else is putting on the uniform. It’s only us. It’s up to us to go do something about it so that’s what we have to be able to do.”