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Bill Belichick talks about going head to head with Rex Ryan

01.10.11 at 12:24 pm ET
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On a Monday afternoon conference call, Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed Rex Ryan‘€™s point that this week was about ‘€œRex Ryan vs. Bill Belichick,’€ and not so much Patriots vs. Jets.

‘€œI think he probably … I might have a little quickness on him, he’€™s probably got a little strength and power on me,’€ Belichick said when asked about Ryan, his tongue firmly in his cheek. ‘€œI don’€™t think either one of us is making any blocks or tackles or runs or throws or catches. At least, you won’€™t see me doing that. That’€™s probably a good thing for our team.

‘€œI just try to coach my team,’€ Belichick added later. ‘€œI don’€™t worry about what everyone else does. Other coaches do a good job, Rex does a great job. I just try to coach my team.’€

Earlier on Monday, Ryan talked about how he was outcoached in December’€™s 45-3 win for the Patriots, and what he had to do differently this time around.

‘€œI recognize this week, this is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan. There’€™s no question. It’€™s personal. This is about him against myself, and that’€™s what it’€™s going to come down to,’€ Ryan said. ‘€œThis is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick. Like I said, I recognize he’€™s the best and all that, but I’€™m just trying to be the best on Sunday. And I plan on being the best coach on Sunday. That’€™s what it is. I recognize that my level has to come up, and he’€™s going to get my best shot. He’€™s going to get everything I have on Sunday. And if he slips at all, we’€™re going to beat him.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, playoffs, Rex Ryan,

Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C

01.10.11 at 12:14 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning after spending the weekend in New York, watching the Broadway play “Lombardi” on Saturday night.

Brady addressed Jets coach Rex Ryan‘s comments that Peyton Manning is the best-prepared quarterback in the NFL and Brady gets more help from Bill Belichick than he lets on. He also talked about what the Patriots have to do to beat the Jets in Sunday’s playoff matchup.

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Was Rex right? Peyton Manning studies film like a bookworm, and you go see the “Lombardi” play on Saturday night with the Jets on TV. Where is your commitment to winning football games, Brady?

Oh, man. I think everybody’s obviously entitled to their opinion. And maybe he’s right. He’s a good coach. I’ll just keep getting ready like we’ve done all year, and hopefully we’ll go out and play well on Sunday night. It’s going to be an exciting week for us. I think everyone is already in the game-week mode, getting ready, getting prepared. It’s going to be a hell of a game, it’s going to be a tough game. I’m excited to play the Jets again.

When you hear Rex say that, does it anger you, amuse you or motivate you?

I don’t think any of the above. I don’t think anything that people really say has bothered me good, bad or indifferent over the years. Everybody has their opinion of people and things and places. All I know is that I feel really confident with our team and the way our team prepares each week. I’m sure we’ll be prepared going into this game on Sunday.

The only thing that I really care about is us being ready to play each week. What someone may say about it ‘€” I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and his ability to get his team ready. He does what he needs to do and I think we’re going to what we need to do.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Peyton Manning, playoffs, Rex Ryan

Vince Wilfork on D&H: Bill Belichick haters ‘need to be punched in their face’

01.10.11 at 12:07 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork joined the Dale & Holley show Monday morning at Gillette Stadium for his weekly visit as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday. Wilfork talked about what to expect in Sunday’s playoff game vs. the Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” he said. “Every game in the playoffs is tough. Especially being able to play a team three times. It gets harder and harder and harder each time. I don’t think anything we’ve done in the first games we played them this year are going to factor into this game. It’s a totally different ballgame. For us, it’s a 0-0 season, a brand new season.

“I think the approach is kind of different, because if you lose now, you go home. I think we’ll get the Jets’ best. I think everything they have to offer, we’ll get. Probably some things we haven’t seen, some things we’ve probably seen, we’re going to get it. At the same time, we’re in the same mode. Like I said, you lose, you go home. At the end of the day, we want to make sure we leave this game happy and satisfied with what we did. Hopefully we can come out with a ‘W.’ ”

Wilfork said the key for the Patriots is to have a good week of preparation. “Our main goal is going to practice and being able to practice well,” he said. “We need the best practices of the year, starting this week. If we don’t get that, there may be problems. Our goal is to go to practice and leave that practice field knowing we got better.”

Wilfork explained that Bill Belichick started working on the Patriots’ psyches last week. “He hit us as a team,” Wilfork said. “He never wants us to get complacent or get relaxed. Just because we were on a bye week, we went in and we worked. ‘€¦ Bill is the type of guy that whenever you get a chance to get better, if we agree with it or don’t agree with it, he’s going to do what’s best for the team. I think last week was a great example.”

Belichick’s decision to work the Patriots hard last week rather than give them more time off during the bye week can’t be questioned, according to Wilfork. “A lot of people might not agree with it, but like I said, the respect level that I have for this guy is unbelievable,” he said. “People who don’t respect him need to be punched in their face. The guy’s been around this game so long and been successful so long, you can’t do anything but respect him.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, LaDanian Tomlinson, Nick Mangold, playoffs

Highlights from Rex Ryan: ‘This week is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan’

01.10.11 at 11:53 am ET
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Jets coach Rex Ryan held a question and answer session with the media this morning that ran almost 20 minutes and touched on a number of Patriots-related topics, including the fact that he thinks he got outcoached in the last New England-New York contest, how he plans to coach differently, what he thinks of Bill Belichick and his thoughts on Tom Brady going to a Broadway play Saturday night instead of watching the Jets-Colts wild card game. Here are some of the highlights:

Part of his opening statement specifically on the Patriots: “We’re going back up to Foxboro and all that kind of stuff. And after really looking at it, I realize that this is … that game, I was outcoached in that game. I said it then, and I’m saying it now. That’s [Bill] Belchick. I recognize the fact that this is a Hall of Fame coach, and he’ll go down in history as maybe the greatest football coach in the history of this game. Or he’s going to be close to it. And he was at that level that week, and I was not. For whatever reason, I never had my team prepared, the way it should have been prepared, and that falls right down on me. I recognize this week, this is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan. There’s no question. It’s personal. This is about him against myself, and that’s what it’s going to come down to. When you look at both teams, they’re very even. When you look at the players, both teams are solid across the board. When you look at the assistant coaches, we’re on level ground. So this is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick. Like I said, I recognize he’s the best and all that, but I’m just trying to be the best on Sunday. And I plan on being the best coach on Sunday. That’s what it is. I recognize that my level has to come up, and he’s going to get my best shot. He’s going to get everything I have on Sunday. And if he slips at all, we’re going to beat him.”

How do you raise your level? “It’s just going to be a ridiculous amount of preparation on our part, but also have recognized that my job is to make it simpler for our players. No matter how difficult that may be as a coach, that’s your job. To get your players to play at the highest level possible. And that’s taking some of the grey area. So they do a great job with their matchups and all that kind of stuff. We have to do a great job making it ‘€” whether it’s a complex plan or not ‘€” it has to be simple. Because we have to play fast and physical. That doesn’t mean we’re going to dummy it up. You dummy it up against them, you’ll get crushed. We’ve got to find that balancing act ‘€” I have to find a balancing act ‘€” by keeping our team physical.”

On that December game being too complicated for the players: “Yeah, I definitely think so. I think the play might have looked good on paper, but I think it wasn’t realistic. And when we had to make the adjustments, we couldn’t execute them. And obviously, they were, they did a great job. They were prepared. They did a great job and that was it. It really came down to coaching more than playing, and it was obvious. They were that much better ‘€” Belichick was that much better ‘€” than I was that last game.”

Is this a defining game for you as a coach? “No question. That’s fine. I think that’s true.”
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Read More: Bill Belichick, playoffs, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady

Boomer Esiason on D&C: ‘There is a pride factor that is at play here’

01.10.11 at 10:05 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the NFL playoffs and the Patriots-Jets matchup. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Jets knocked off the Colts in Indianapolis on Saturday night, 17-16, but it was far from a dominant effort. New York’s offensive struggles have to be a concern.

Said Esiason: “Sooner or later, Mark Sanchez is going to have to make plays. He certainly did that on the last drive of the game for the Jets against Indianapolis. Can he go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady? Tom Brady’s not going to be settling for field goals, I’m going to tell you that right now.

“Like I said earlier, Peyton Manning and his team were so beat up. The fact that the Jets, it took them all the way until the last play of the game ‘€” they lost the lead there at the end ‘€” kind of tells you that the Jets I don’t necessarily know are ready to go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady. They’ll keep the game, I believe, a hell of a lot closer than the last time. I think that was more of an anomaly than anything else. But I can see the Patriots throwing up 34. Can Mark Sanchez score 35 points? I just don’t see it.”

Asked whether heralded cornerback Darrelle Revis might be assigned more often to cover Wes Welker, Esiason said that’s not the key matchup. “Pick your poison when you’re playing the Patriots,” he said. “The Patriots have two players in particular that are going to be very difficult for the Jets to cover, and that’s going to be [Rob] Gronkowski and [Aaron] Hernandez. Those two guys down the middle of the field are, to me, again, where the weakness of the Jets lie. Their safeties are not great cover guys.”

On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have concerns as well. “The question is for them, Can they stop Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson?” Esiason said. “LaDainian looked great on Saturday night, and even he said last week that this is the healthiest he has been in a long time going into the playoffs.”

As for how the Jets will react coming off the 45-3 beatdown they took the last time these teams met, Esiason said: “You get pissed. You were embarrassed. … There is a pride factor that is at play here. If you are a prideful person ‘€” which I know that almost NFL players are that way, they don’t like being embarrassed ‘€” they are going to put their best effort forward, to be focused, to be really intense and make sure that they are ready to roll this week.

“I’m just telling you, the Jets’ mentality now, especially after beating Peyton Manning they way that they did in the second half, Rex Ryan is going to play it as if he’s a tougher team, he’s a stronger team, the Patriots are a finesse team and that’s the way that they like to play. We’re a more ground-and-pound team. I can hear it in my sleep. That’s exactly what he’s going to be telling his team behind the scenes.”

Read More: boomer esiason, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, playoffs

Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I get a ton of help from our coach’

01.10.11 at 9:58 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning for his weekly chat as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With the Patriots preparing to face the Jets on Sunday, Brady said he won’t let Rex Ryan‘s backhanded insult of him last week affect him. Ryan said Peyton Manning is the most-prepared quarterback in the NFL, and Brady gets more help from Bill Belichick than he would let on.

“I think everybody’s obviously entitled to their opinion,” Brady said. “And maybe he’s right. He’s a good coach. I’ll just keep getting ready like we’ve done all year, and hopefully we’ll go out and play well on Sunday night.”

Added Brady: “I don’t think anything that people really say has bothered me good, bad or indifferent over the years. Everybody has their opinion of people and things and places. All I know is that I feel really confident with our team and the way our team prepares each week. I’m sure we’ll be prepared going into this game on Sunday.”

Brady even took it so far as to agree with Ryan’s assessment. “I get a ton of help from our coach,” Brady said with a laugh. “Of course we do. I think we have the best coach in the history of football. I think we’ve got a great offensive staff, a great defensive staff, ones that get all the players prepared. Coach talks about being a smart, tough, physical football team that plays well under pressure. Part of us being smart and prepared and ready to play is our coaches doing their homework. We use whatever we can to get ready to play.”

Much was made of the fact that Brady was attending a Broadway performance of “Lombardi” on Saturday night instead of watching the Jets-Colts game. Actually, Brady said he monitored the score on his cell phone and then got out in time to watch the second half of the Jets’ win, which he would have preferred not to do.

“I got home and watched the second half,” he said, explaining that his two best friends “suckered” him into watching football. “You know what happens to me is I get very anxious watching those games. I was watching the second half and I was actually kind of pissed that I watched it because I didn’t go to sleep ’til 3 in the morning. You just get riled up as I watch them, and then I start rooting for a team to win, and that’s not really what I want to be doing. I figure I’ll get enough, I’ll see the game. I’ve seen that game [on tape]. You know, it’s just something I wanted to do with my wife.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, playoffs, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady

Ten Patriots-related thoughts from wild card weekend

01.10.11 at 12:18 am ET
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Here are 10 Patriots-related thoughts from wild card weekend:

1. Taking a look at the numbers from Saturday’€™s wild card contest, it appears that the Jets have gotten back to what they do best. The Colts aren’€™t the best team in the league against the run ‘€” Indy allowed 127 yards a game over the regular season ‘€” but it was clear that New York stuck with what worked against Indianapolis: ground and pound. The Jets committed to the run, and they made it work. If New York is to have a chance Sunday in the divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium, it has to do the same, even if they fall behind by 7-10 points in the second half.

2. New York got great work in the kick return game on Saturday, thanks in large part to the work of Antonio Cromartie. The cornerback had a pair of great runbacks against the Colts, including a 47-yarder late in the fourth quarter that set up the eventual game-winning field goal. With the Patriots struggling on special teams recently, expect kick coverage to be a major point of emphasis around Gillette Stadium this week.

3. The Jets’€™ running game is important to their success, but New York’€™s ultimate hope when it comes to beating the Patriots hinges on their quarterback, Mark Sanchez turning things around when it comes to facing the Patriots in Foxboro. While the USC product played well as a game-manager Saturday night against the Colts (18-for-31, 189 passing yards), he has struggled in his two career games at Gillette Stadium. His line in Foxboro: one touchdown, seven interceptions and has fumbled the ball away twice.

4. As far as many New England fans were concerned, it was unfortunate to see how things ended up for the Chiefs on Sunday afternoon. Early on, Kansas City certainly looked capable of knocking off the Ravens, but the Chiefs were unable to sustain things in the second half, as former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel threw three second-half interceptions on the way to a 30-7 defeat. Kansas City has many well-documented ties to the Patriots organization ‘€” including Cassel, Mike Vrabel, the departing offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli ‘€” but there’€™s a real belief that Sunday’€™s game was the first step on the way to bigger and better things for the Kansas City organization. (That being said, you have to believe the distraction of Weis’€™ departure had some sort of an effect on the Chiefs’€™ stagnant offense.)

5. It was a miserable afternoon for Cassel, who was making the first playoff start of his career. The former Patriots signal-caller was just 9-for-18 passes for 70 yards with three interceptions, three sacks and a 20.4 rating ‘€” one of the worst playoff quarterbacking performances in NFL playoff history. It was quite a change for Cassel, who threw just seven picks all year. ‘€œI forced a few balls in there and it did not turn out well,’€ said Cassel, who credits Tom Brady with helping him develop into an NFL starter. ‘€œAs leader of the team and a leader of the offense, I can’€™t do that. Our hats go off to the Ravens. They have a good defense. We knew that coming in. Hopefully, they do well going forward. But this one definitely hurts a little bit.’€

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Read More: aaron rodgers, antonio cromartie, Bill Belichick, Brandon Spikes
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