FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With the Patriots practicing for the first time during their playoff bye week, and with two coaches with strong ties to the organization generating headlines, there were two forces colliding when quarterback Tom Brady arrived for his weekly news conference Wednesday.
Brady spoke at length about the mindset the team must have in the playoffs, at one point saying that “nothing can get in the way of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
At the same time, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is in the news as a top candidate for the Cleveland Browns' head coaching job and former New England assistant Bill O’Brien is leaving Penn State after two seasons to become Houston Texans' head coach.
Brady was reluctant to address news with McDaniels and O'Brien. About five minutes into the news conference, he was asked about his relationship with O’Brien, how it developed over time, and his thoughts on O’Brien’s tenure with the Patriots.
“That was a long time ago,” he answered. “Truthfully, I’m just trying to stay focused on this week. That’s really not in my thought process right now.”
Later, Brady was asked if he’s surprised to hear McDaniels’ name come up as a head coaching candidate.
“I’m not surprised by much anymore in the NFL,” he said, initially deflecting the question before delving into it slightly. “He’s a great coach. I said the other day, he’s one of my best buds. I’ve been around for a long time. I know him pretty well. I’m glad he’s my coach.”
Asked if it bums him out when teams or colleges show interest in hiring a Patriots assistant, Brady said: “It’s a credit to those guys and what they’ve accomplished. It’s a very flattering thing when other people are interested. They’ll make their decision based on whatever they make their decision based on; I still have to go out there and do my job, which is ultimately what I owe this team and what I signed up for, and what I promised Mr. [Robert] Kraft when I signed my contract and what I commit to [coach Bill] Belichick and all my teammates – that I’m going to try to do the best I can do. It doesn’t matter who’s coaching, who’s running routes, who I’m handing the ball off to, who’s blocking, who’s playing defense, I have to go do my job. That’s what my focus is.”
As for what’s ahead for the Patriots, they can face either the Bengals, Colts or Chiefs. Brady isn’t sure if he’ll watch the games this weekend or simply wait to do so from more of a game-planning perspective.
“I’ve done both; I’ve watched and I haven’t watched,” he said. “Sometimes you get really riled up watching up the game, and then you start cheering for teams to win or lose. You don’t [want to] ride the wave. I’ll use my time as best possible to prepare myself. Whatever it needs to be, that’s what it will be.”