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Rex Ryan on Patriots D: ‘They do what they do’

10.05.11 at 1:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots defense has been under the firing gun of opposing offenses, fans and NFL analysts in the first four weeks of the season.

But Jets coach Rex Ryan knows a thing or two about defense and he wants everyone to go beyond the numbers and look at what they do. According to Ryan, the Patriots are the classic bend-don’t-break defense.

The Patriots come in to their Week 5 showdown with the Jets dead last in NFL in yards allowed at 477.5 per game, more than 51 yards more a game than the team at No. 31, the Chicago Bears.

“The defense, statistically, they’ve never ranked way up there,” Ryan said in his conference call to Patriots reporters on Wednesday. “It’s not like they’re 1 or 2 in the league in defense but they’re effective. They make you make mistakes, they don’t give up the run, they do a great job playing the run and they don’t have the ball shot over their heads. That’s what they do.

“They’re doing a great job. They do what they do, they force takeaways. They’re playing better in the red zone.”

To Ryan’s point, the Patriots are still one of the tougher teams in the NFL to run against, allowing 108 yards a game on the ground, tied with Houston for 18th in the league. They held Darren McFadden to 75 yards last week in Oakland and never allowed the Raiders to run it down their throats.

Ryan has kept a close eye on the 4-3 base the Patriots are implementing more this season, especially new names Shaun Ellis and Albert Haynesworth. If the latter is cleared to play after missing the last two games with a bad back, he expects the Patriots to come after Mark Sanchez early and often on Sunday at Gillette since Sanchez was under constant pressure from the Ravens defense last week.

“Now, I expect them to come after us more, obviously. We didn’t do a great job of protecting the quarterback. I would expect more pressure from New England this week.”

Some eyebrows were raised when the Ryan released the 34-year-old Ellis this summer. Ryan says he still has the utmost respect for the former Pro Bowl defensive lineman.

“I think Shaun is an excellent player, no question about it,” Ryan said. “They brought in Carter, they bring in Shaun, they bring in Haynesworth to add what they already had. It’s obviously an upgrade for what New England has. Shaun is an excellent player, he can play in a 3-4 defense end, he can play in a 4-3 defense, they’re doing multiple things so really I think it was a good move by Belichick to bring him in because he is a guy who can play in any defense you’ve got.”

So who will protect Sanchez? Well, Ryan didn’t mean any offense to Colin Baxter and his effort on Sunday night in Baltimore but facts are facts – the Jets desperately need Nick Mangold back from the high sprain of his right ankle.

“Well, I’d just like to add one player. I’d like to get Nick Mangold back, that’d be a big help for us,” Ryan said. “I’m definitely hopeful Nick will play. You take out the best center in football and, no offense to Colin Baxter, there’s only one Nick Mangold in this league. When he went out, that was really a big loss to us. But hopefully, he’ll be back in and ready to play.

“With Vince, I don’t know about Haynesworth, but with all those guys, we need Nick. That Haynesworth kid only played one game but he was dominant.”

While Ryan wasn’t firing one-liner after one-liner on Wednesday with reporters, he still managed one with regard to the new secondary weapon the Patriots have found in Vince Wilfork.

“I think Vince should probably move to safety,” Ryan added. “That might be the next move for Vince.”

Bill Belichick respects Rex Ryan’s defense, but not that much. Question is what will Ryan have in store for the Patriots this week?

Read More: Bill Belichick, Colin Baxter, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots
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