FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady might be a 15-year NFL veteran, but at the podium Wednesday, he talked about making improvements to his game as though he were a second-year starter.
Brady was asked about the touchdown he threw to Danny Amendola against the Jets last week, a “scramble drill” play on which Amendola had to work to stay open as Brady scanned the field and rolled to his left. A third-and-19 play became a touchdown.
A pocket passer who makes fun of his own lack of mobility more than anyone else, Brady acknowledged that he has been working on that part of his game.
“It’s never really been something that I’ve been great at, extending plays, and I see some of these players, whether it be Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers, or Jay Cutler does it, Alex Smith does it, some really mobile quarterbacks that do a great job for their team, Ben Roethlisberger’s done it for a lot of years.
“So just trying to understand how I can help our team more, and if I can make more of those plays, I think it would really help our team. So I try to focus on that a little bit. Coach has talked about it, and I think there could be more of those still too.
“I don’t think instinctually it’s there for me yet, but I’m going to keep working at it, because when they happen, they end up being big plays, big momentum plays.
“Sometimes the defense has the initial part of the pattern covered, and if you’re able to extend the play and buy your teammates more time to get open, it’s like a whole other play, so it’s a great advantage for an offense. Like I said, it hasn’t really been a strength of mine, and I’m trying to do a better job of it so hopefully it’s not as big a weakness as it’s been in the past.”
Brady doesn’t often discuss the weaknesses in his game, so it was a bit surprising to hear him talk at length about this shortcoming. After a career spent mostly as a pass-first, run-hardly-ever quarterback, however, learning to use his legs more hasn’t been easy.
“I think there’s mental parts and there’s physical parts,” he said. “I think the physical part is just to keep working on . . . your leg strength, your ability to move when you need to move to be able to get away from people. I think for me sometimes it’s more of a mental issue.
“I joke all the time, I don’t have one cell in my body that ever tells me to run. I think I just sit there and kind of go, ‘Wow, I have more time to throw than usual,’ as opposed to I see some other players that maybe their initial read’s not open and bam, they’re on the move and they do a great job of that.
“I think there’s a balance for both of those. Being in the pocket certainly has served me well, but I think there’s also times where I can definitely help our team more [by] extending plays and making the defense cover for a longer period of time than they typically cover. So I’m going to keep working at that.”
While most 37-year-old quarterbacks might be reluctant to add something, Brady feels the opposite.
“I think it’s a challenge, and I think you try to accept those things,” he said. “But I think I’m excited about trying to make those changes as opposed to resistant . . . because I realize how much it could help and I watch a lot of other players play and go, ‘Man, I wish I could do some of those things,’ but I just don’t have the God-given ability to be able to do. But I’m trying to improve it.
“And there’s things I do that were God-given abilities for me that have worked really well, but I think it’s a matter of balancing them out and trying to find, continuing to add, whether it’s throws on the run or whether that’s extending plays or whether that’s learning how to quarterback sneak, things like that, that can become strong parts of your game.
“And I think for me, figuring out things that haven’t been good that I’m trying to improve, I think that’s definitely something that I want to be able to do to try to help our team score more points.”
It was humorous that Brady was talking about trying to use his legs a bit more just days before the Bears come to Gillette Stadium. The last time Chicago was here, in 2006, Brady had a memorable 11-yard run on third and long, juking linebacker Brian Urlacher in the process, and punctuating the achievement with an enthusiastic first-down signal.