|11.21.12 at 10:50 pm ET|
Here’s everything you need to know about Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game:
Our three favorite matchups on the evening:
1. Cornerback Aqib Talib against wide receiver Stephen Hill: Talib was admittedly rocky at times in his Patriots’ debut last week against the Colts, but still managed to come away with a game-changing pick which was returned for a touchdown. Regardless of your assessment of his performance, it’s clear that Talib has the skills to play man coverage, and he should get more playing time as he grows more comfortable he gets in the New England system. (One of the byproducts of Talib’s emergence — and the growing confidence the Patriots’ coaching staff has in its secondary — could be more blitzes in the coming weeks.) The new corner had 67 snaps last week against the Colts, and barring something crazy, his playing time should receive a spike this week against the Jets. With the injury to Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley (38 catches, 62 targets, 578 yards, two TDs) has become the Jets primary option in the passing game out of the slot, but the Patriots figure to use Talib on Hill (14 catches, 36 targets, 196 yards, three TDs) for a couple of reasons, but primarily because the rookie — who dropped a key pass late against New England the first time around — will be on the outside.
2: Wide receiver Wes Welker against the Jets secondary: It remains to be seen how the Jets are going to defend Welker — Darrelle Revis is on IR, as is Isaiah Trufant, two corners who have been competitive in the past when it comes to slowing the slot receiver. While Kyle Wilson has been bumped up the depth chart from working in the slot to the outside, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wilson and/or Ellis Lankster line up in the slot against Welker for the bulk of the game. (My guess is that the Jets will feel comfortable using Antonio Cromartie in single man coverage on Brandon Lloyd on the outside, more of Cromatie’s natural spot.)
3: Linebacker Brandon Spikes against running back Shonn Greene: Spikes remains New England’s best run defender, and provided he stays healthy, should provide the Patriots with a sturdy enough presence through the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs. (For what it’s worth, Spikes showed up consistently as a blitzer the last two weeks, frequently blitzing in the A-gap against Indianapolis.) Greene is the Jets’ only consistent presence when it comes to running the ball, and will get most of the carries.
4. Under-the-radar opponent who Patriots’ fans need to know: Dustin Keller. The 28-year-old is as under-the-radar as you can be when it comes to playing in New York, but on a team with much bigger names, he’s been deadly against New England over the years. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder caught seven passes (on seven targets) for a season-high 93 yards and a touchdown the first time these two teams met earlier this season. In nine career games against the Patriots, he has 35 catches for 445 yards, the most against any opponent he’s faced. He’s a consistently tough matchup for New England, and this game should be no exception.
5. By the numbers: Per Nuggetpalooza, since the start of the 2010 season, the Jets have completed 68 percent against Patriots blitzes (23-of-34), their highest such completion percentage against any of their 15 opponents where they’ve attempted at least 10 such passes in that span. (However, it’s also worth noting that New York’s passing offense is on track for one of its worst seasons since 1991 against blitzes. The Jets have completed just 47.9 percent of their passes when their opponent brings extra rushers, which would be their second-lowest/worst percentage since the stat has been tracked.)
|11.21.12 at 3:27 pm ET|
Mike Carey will work Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game as the referee, according to our friends at FootballZebras.com.
Carey, in his 23rd season as an NFL official, is considered one of the most well-respected refs in the league. (In a 2008 poll of head coaches conducted by ESPN, he was tied for first with Ed Hochuli.) A former running back at Santa Clara University, Carey is a co-owner of Seirus Innivation, a company that manufactures ski and snowboarding gloves.
Thursday will mark his first Patriots game of the 2012 season, but he has become a relatively familiar face for New England fans over the last few seasons. According to Pro Football Reference, he worked a pair of Patriots’ regular-season games last year (at Pittsburgh and Denver). He was also the lead ref for Super Bowl XLII between New England and New York.
For more on Carey’s background and tendencies as an official. check out his page at Pro Football Reference.
|11.21.12 at 12:50 pm ET|
The Jets are 4-6 and heavy underdogs heading into Thursday night’s game against the Patriots, but one player indicated the team is feeling ‘loose’ heading into the contest.
Jets defensive end Mike DeVito said the normal tightness associated with a matchup against the Patriots is missing this week, and he said the team is ready to go.
‘I feel like we were real loose this week at practice, which is good to see,’ said DeVito a Cape Cod native who played collegiately at Maine. ‘I think a tendency that we’ve had in the past when it’s Patriots Week is to tighten up, you naturally get a little bit tight because you recognize the importance of the game, and how physical and ratcheted up it always is. … You play this game too tight, you’re not going to be successful. You play this game loose and with swag and having fun, that’s when you’re going to do well, and I think guys are happy about that.
‘I just know we play well when we feel like this.’
Added DeVito when asked if the team was ready to play its best game: ‘Without a doubt, yeah, without a doubt. Guys are really confident. We’re jelling as a team, we believe in each other, and I have no doubt that we’re going to be ready to go on Thursday night.’
Jets center Matt Slauson wants it to be known that the Jets are ready to fight.
‘I would expect to see a high-motor, high-enthusiasm team. … We’re going to be flying around that field,” he said. “Regardless of what happens in the game, we’re going to fight until the very end of the game with everything we got.’
‘¦ Rex Ryan is not underestimating the talent level of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Jets coach hailed Brady as a ‘once-in-a-generation quarterback’ as he prepares his team to defend the Patriots offense.
‘The thing about him, he’s a machine yet he’s passionate and a fiery leader,’ Ryan said Tuesday. ‘You wish he was just a machine. His competitive side elevates his team as well. That’s what you get from those once-in-a-generation-type quarterbacks.’
|11.21.12 at 8:21 am ET|
Here are some numbers that I found interesting as the Patriots travel to New York to meet the Jets on Thanksgiving night:
* – Now that the byes are all over for this year, all teams have played 42 games since the start of the 2010 season and the Patriots own the best record in the league over that span:
34-8 – Patriots
32-10 – Falcons
32-10 – Ravens
32-10 – Packers
30-12 – Steelers
The worst record in the league in that span belongs to the Panthers (10-32).
Note this: New England’s 15-6 road record is also the NFL’s best in that span, just ahead of Atlanta (14-7) and Pittsburgh (14-7).
* – The Patriots are averaging a league high 35.8 points per game through 10 games this season, which would be the third-highest average in the NFL since 1960 if it holds up:
36.8 – Patriots, 2007
36.6 – Oilers, 1961
35.8 – Patriots, 2012
35.0 – Packers, 2011
34.8 – Vikings, 1998
* – On Sunday the Patriots scored in the third quarter for the 19th consecutive game, extending the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1997.
* – Be sure to turn the game on at the start as these two defenses have allowed LOTS of points on their opponents’ first possession of the game. The Jets have allowed 34 points (four touchdowns, two field goals) on their opponents’ 10 opening drives, while the Patriots have allowed 30 (three touchdowns, three field goals).
* – New England has scored a first-quarter touchdown in each of its last eight road games, the longest streak in the league since at least 1997:
8 – Patriots (2011-12)
7 – Titans (2004-05)
6 – Five times
* – New England leads the NFL with 14 recoveries of opponent fumbles, its most in any full season since falling on 16 in 2004. Since the merger in 1970, the Patriots have never led the league outright in fumble recoveries. The closest they’ve come was in 1976, when they recovered a club-record 27 fumbles, tying the Saints for the most in the NFL that season. Read the rest of this entry »
|11.20.12 at 7:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s a question that been asked in almost every conceivable way. How will the Patriots adjust without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup?
“Other people are going to have to contribute,” Bill Belichick said Tuesday. “We’ll see how it goes. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.
Does it change Belichick’s preparation for the Jets?
“We’re not going to put in a whole new offense in a day and a half,” Belichick added. “[We] may make some adjustments, but we’ve done what we’ve been doing for awhile. We’ve had some success with it so we’ll find a way to continue to do the things that we know how to do. If we have to make some adjustments, we’ll make some. If we can’t, we wouldn’t try to change everything in a couple days anyway.”
There are certainly options for the Patriots and WEEI.com’s Chris Price explored them in depth.
As for the criticism of Belichick for leaving Gronkowski in the game for the final extra point, Rex Ryan called it ridiculous. Belichick said regardless of Ryan’s support, he has a good relationship with his longtime rival.
“I didn’t hear it, so I’m just taking your word for it,” Belichick said when told of the compliment Tuesday. “I feel like I have a good relationship with Rex. Obviously we want to beat each other. We’re in the same division and that’s just competitiveness. I see Rex from time to time during the year. Like I said, we had his brother on the staff here for four years. I’ve known his father for 30 years, whatever it is, it’s been a long time. I think that there’s a lot of’¦he’s a son of a coach, he’s a football guy, he’s been around it his whole life; I have too. There are a lot of things we have in common. But this week it’s about two teams trying to compete against each other. That’s all it is.”
Here’s the rest of Belichick’s Q and A with reporters at Gillette on Tuesday: Read the rest of this entry »
|11.20.12 at 5:30 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There’s no time to worry about the loss of Rob Gronkowski. There’s only time to worry about how to beat the suddenly re-energized Jets on national television on three days’ rest.
Just ask Tom Brady.
“We’re just trying to prioritize our time. We don’t have much of it,” Brady said. “We leave tomorrow, and hopefully everyone is spending their time wisely, not playing video games and stuff like that. Trying to understand, and what we need to do, and it’s a very tough place to play. We’ve always played this team very tough. It should be a fun night.”
One thing is for sure, Brady is expecting something different defensively from Rex Ryan and the Jets defense.
“You may know the players, some of the scheme stuff, but at the same time, you have to put as much as you can into it in the short amount of time that we have,” Brady said. “You just can’t take anything for granted against this team. They’ll have something new for us, they always do.”
From Ryan’s perspective, giving Brady multiple looks is a matter of survival, and a reason why the Jets had a chance back on Oct. 21, losing in overtime to the Patriots, 29-26.
“I just know that the way he prepares and everything else, that this guy is a once-in-a-generation, lifetime-type quarterback that you get everything from,” Ryan said in a conference call Tuesday. “He has the skill, obviously, to make every throw. But he’s smart and he’ll see that if there’s somebody that’s tipping it, he’ll find that guy. If he knows exactly what you’re in coverage-wise, then you have no chance. I mean no chance. That’s where you have to be multiple. You can’t just line up and do the same thing over and over and over again and then he’ll put up numbers where he may throw it 45 times and throw five incompletions. That’s it. Hopefully it doesn’t happen here. You have to do enough things with pressure, simulated pressure, coverage, whatever it is, you have to be multiple against him.”
Brady said while the Jets are always tough, the Patriots left a lot of points on the field when they played at Gillette the first time. The Patriots were just 9-for-17 on third down and Brady was 26-of-42 for 259 yards for two touchdowns.
“Obviously we didn’t execute very well,” Brady said. “I think we had some opportunities that we just didn’t really take advantage of, and they played really well. They always seem to play us well. There’s been one game where we beat them up pretty well a few years ago, but other than that, they’ve all been pretty tight games. That’s just the way it is against the Jets.
“They look like the same Jets defense to me like they always have. They’re very good, disruptive, physical, they’re tough, they’re smart, they play well together. They’re really a very good group.” Read the rest of this entry »
|11.20.12 at 4:54 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Jets coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday that there are things he’d do over again if he had the chance, but doesn’t sound like he has any regrets about the way he’s handled his three-plus seasons at the helm of the Jets.
“I don’t know. I mentioned that about the guarantee and all that stuff when I was guaranteeing a Super Bowl, but at the time, that’s really what I felt,” Ryan said. “Then when free agency came and 17 of our players were free agents when the new CBA was announced, that was probably not the smartest thing to say at the time. But, I really thought if we had the same team back, why wouldn’t we think that? We got to the [conference] championship game.
“But, either way, I’m sure there is,” he added. “I came in the league and I have a ton of experience around football. I’ve been around football my entire life, but I never really sat as a head coach before so it’s a learning experience, no question. I’m sure there are things I would do differently, but that specifically? I don’t know. At the end of the day, I think the most important thing is at the end of the day is that you are who you are and you believe; and I certainly believe things I tell our team about and everything else. So, I’m going to stay the course.”
Ryan, who addressed the fact that the Patriots will be without Rob Gronkowski Thursday night, hit on a number of other topics, including the challenges of game planning on a short week and the impact that Aqib Talib has had on the New England secondary:
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