|Pats-Jets roundup: Mike DeVito says Jets are ‘loose’ heading into Thanksgiving night game||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.”
|Antonio Cromartie is not Darrelle Revis but he’s still ‘got a lot of talent’||10.18.12 at 5:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Most observers assumed when Darrelle Revis went down on Sept. 23 in Miami with a torn ACL that the Jets defense – and specifically their secondary – was cooked.
After all, Antonio Cromartie – the man immediately pegged as Revis’ replacement – had been good but he didn’t figure to have leadership qualities that Revis commands when he enters a defensive backs meeting.
But Cromartie has stepped up to become the defensive back the Jets thought they were getting in 2010 when he joined the team after four seasons with the Chargers. He leads the Jets with three interceptions, including one each in New York’s last two games without Revis. The Jets are allowing just 209 passing yards per game. Only four defenses in the NFL are better this year against the pass.
“He’s talented,” said Brandon Lloyd, who faced Cromartie across the line of scrimmage in 2010, when Lloyd was with the Broncos. “He’s got a lot of talent, a lot of speed and plays really well.”
Lloyd had four catches for 74 yards, including one grab for 29 yards, in that Oct. 2010 meeting.
Then there’s Tom Brady, who was called a not-so nice name by Cromartie before their playoff game in Jan. 2011.
Now? Well, it’s all about mutual respect.
“I’ve always said I think he’s a great player,” Brady said this week. “I mean, he’s one of the best corners in the league and has been for a while. I usually don’t get into it much. Wish I could help you more.”
Brady did admit it will be strange to look out to his right and not see No. 24 in “Gang Green.”
“He’s a great player – one of the best I’ve ever gone against. At the same time, I think they’ve moved on from that situation and played really well last week against Indianapolis without him. They still have a very good defense. It’s built around their team and their scheme and they have very good players: big, powerful guys that run well, very instinctive.
“They have a lot of veteran players at safety and linebacker. Cromartie is a heck of a player in his own right and he’s had a great season, so he’s really assumed the role of matching to the opponent’s No. 1 receiver – or perceived No. 1 receiver. They seem like they’re still doing what they’ve always done and playing very well.”
|Patriots Positional Playoff Preview: Tight ends||01.04.12 at 3:08 pm ET|
With the Patriots off this weekend and the postseason ready to begin, we’ve got the Patriots Positional Playoff Preview, a weeklong, position-by-position look at the Patriots and how they look heading into the postseason. We’ve already broken down the running backs and quarterback. Now, it’s the tight ends.
Depth chart: Rob Gronkowski (90 catches, 1,327 yards, 17 receiving touchdowns), Aaron Hernandez (79 catches, 910 yards, seven touchdowns).
Overview: In just over a year, the Patriots’ passing game has evolved from a system that had almost no input from the tight ends into one that has become more reliant on tight ends than any other passing game in the league. The combination of Hernandez and Gronkowski represents a matchup nightmare for almost every opposing defense in the NFL — Hernandez, who has the build of a wide receiver, can be used as an in-line blocker, in the slot or split wide, while Gronkowski’s size and catch radius make him one of the best and most dependable targets in the league.
Gronkowski set numerous marks this year: his 1,327 receiving yards were a new record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end. In addition, he finished the season with 18 overall touchdowns (17 receiving, 1 rushing). His 17 overall touchdowns passed Curtis Martin (17 overall in 1996) for the second highest single-season total in Patriots history and the most in NFL history by a tight end. In addition, he was fourth in the league in yards after catch with 668.
It’s not just their pass-catching abilities that make them unique. In the case of Gronkowski, he has become one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, and over the last month, with the New England offensive line in a state of recent reconstruction, he has been utilized more as a blocker. Going forward, the Patriots will continue to face some elite pass rushers, and so it wouldn’t be a surprised to see Gronkowski used as a blocker more often. That would put more of a burden on Hernandez to step up his game, and down the stretch, he has certainly done that.
Best Moment: Both had several incredible moments over the course of the season, but our vote goes to Gronkowski’s performance in the Dec. 11 win over the Redskins in Washington, where he rumbled for an extraordinary 160 yards on six catches, including a Bavaro-esque 49-yard catch and run where he shook a handful of Redskins’ tacklers on the way to the Washington red zone.
Worst Moment: It’s almost nitpicking, but perhaps the worst of the season came late in the first half of the win over the Jets where Hernandez bobbled a Tom Brady pass on the goal line that would have given New England a touchdown. Instead, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie snatched it out of the air and took it back to midfield at the end of the half. As for Gronkowski, he was the second-most penalized player on the team this season with six flags against him.
By the numbers, courtesy of Nuggetpalooza: A Patriots’ tight end caught at least one pass for a gain of 20+ yards in 15 of the 16 games this season. No other team’s tight end managed such a catch in more than 12.
Money quote: “The skill set of both those players really allows us to be flexible. Not only are they good blockers, but they can catch the ball, too. You can run it behind them, you can play-action pass and then they’ve become pretty efficient in the passing game also, just to spread them out and be able to run them on different run combinations. They’re very good players.” – Brady on Gronkowski and Hernandez
|Deion Branch is grateful for replay on this Sunday||10.09.11 at 10:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Talk about a buzz kill. Just two plays earlier, the Tom Brady finally connected on a deep post pattern to Wes Welker, a 73-yard strike to the Jets 8-yard line.
The crowd was buzzing after the opening play of the second half had the Patriots looking to add to a slim 10-7 halftime lead. Then, BenJarvus Green-Ellis went up the middle for a yard.
Then, Brady was flushed out of the pocket, running for his life like he had all afternoon and found Deion Branch at the Jets 3. Branch caught the ball with no one on him. He touched his right knee to the turf but since no one got to him, he was free to get up and advance. But before he could, Calvin Pace came over and poke the ball out from Branch’s arms.
The Jets recovered and hustled on the field but Bill Belichick immediately threw the red challenge flag. The play would be reviewed. Was Branch certain it would be overruled?
“Honestly even when I saw it on the jumbotron, I was like it’s going to be a close one, it could go either way,” Branch admitted. “It’s one of those bang-bang plays. Yeah my knee was down but it could have gone the other way as well.”
Branch had one HUGE mulligan. Instead of a momentum-killing fumble and turnover, the Patriots had new life. Branch took advantage by making Antonio Cromartie look very foolish on a curl route in the back of the end zone. Naturally, Brady found him for the quarterback’s only TD pass of the day.
“Oh that would have been big,” Branch said of the turnover that wasn’t. “That one would have been big. Because you can almost, if you think about it, we were in the red area and Wes caught a 73-yard pass play, got us down to the 10 yard line and then if that would have happened, it would have taken all the air out of us. Starting out the second half, we always preach about starting fast, both halves and we did that. That would have been bad, but I’m glad it went the other way. ”
|Devin McCourty on D&C: ‘Always a little extra energy’ vs. Jets||10.07.11 at 8:24 am ET|
Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, as the Pats prepare for Sunday’s game against the rival Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
McCourty tried to not play up the game too much, but he did acknowledge, “There’s always a little extra energy. It’s always a big game. Any divisional game, when we go in, both teams know each other well. Everybody will be coming into this game excited and ready to just get after it.”
Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie said this week that the Jets’ game plan is to “beat the hell out of their receivers.” Responded McCourty: “That’s just a guy, he has a lot of confidence. He’s a great player, and he’s just competitive. I think that’s what all that stems from. He goes out there and he wants to compete. I think that’s probably where he’s coming from with that comment.”
There has been speculation that Darrelle Revis could spend some time covering Wes Welker. McCourty said he’s defended Welker in practice, and it isn’t easy.
Said McCourty: “I’ve been on him a couple of times. It’s tough for me, just like you see those guys in the game covering him. … When you put his quickness together with his knowledge of the game of football and what’s going on, it’s tough to just cover him. Because he knows exactly where he wants to be, how long he’s going to take to get there. Sometimes you think you’re playing great coverage on him, but he’s really just setting everything up to get open maybe later in the down or something. Wes is a guy who knows what he’s doing, and he has great athletic ability.”
The Pats defense continues to put up numbers that rank it near the bottom of the league. McCourty, however, sees the group getting better.
“I think it’s going to be week by week,” he said. “We’ve already made improvements when you talk about from Week 1 until now. … We understand how we have to play defense, and each week we’re getting a little better.”
|Tom Brady on Antonio Cromartie: ‘I don’t care what he says’||10.05.11 at 3:45 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady wouldn’t take the bait on Wednesday.
Asked twice by writers about comments from Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, the Patriots quarterback responded with a terse, “[I] don’t care what he says,” on both occasions before appearing to cut short his weekly press conference.
Cromartie said last season that he thought Brady was an “ass—-” and sounded like he took issue with some of Brady’s perceived post-touchdown antics.
“We see that a lot. He does it a lot,” Cromartie told the New York Daily News last January. “That’s the kind of guy he is. We really don’t give a damn, to tell you the truth.”
Asked about his comments earlier this week, Cromartie didn’t back down.
“What I said last year, I meant it,” Cromartie told Newsday. “I’m not going to take back anything. I’m definitely looking forward to this rivalry game. I still have the same feelings. Feelings don’t change. Whatever I said last year is not going to change.”
On Wednesday morning — before appearing to prematurely leave the podium in the media workroom — Brady called Cromartie an “excellent player” who is part of a talented New York secondary.
“They have two very good corners — well, they have a bunch of very good corners actually,” Brady said. “The two that are out there on their regular defense are very good. They’re both fast, they’re both physical. They play well at the line of scrimmage. They’re very disruptive. They lead the league in pass defense, so that kind of tells you everything you want to know about them.”
New York knocked the Patriots out of the postseason last year, taking a 28-21 win in a divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. But Brady said Wednesday that loss wouldn’t serve as motivation for this Sunday’s game.
“That was a long time ago,” Brady said. “So, that game doesn’t have much bearing on this week. We’re a different team.”
While Brady said the Patriots are a different team, he said when it comes to the Jets, it’s the same as it ever was.
“[We’re going to get] pretty much what we get from them every time we play them. They’re a tough team [and] they’re physical,” Brady said. “I think they lead the league in a bunch of defensive categories. They’re very challenging to play. They have been — it’s always the Jets — since I got here 12 years ago; they’re challenging.
“They’re good — they were good last year, they’re good this year, and they were good two years ago. I think as long as Rex [Ryan] is coaching that team they’re going to have good defense. They have a lot of good defensive players — David Harris and Bart [Scott]. [They have] a good front, corners can cover — safeties [Jim] Leonhard, [Eric] Smith, and Brodney [Pool] have given us problems. So it’s a good team.”
|Antonio Cromartie agrees to deal with Jets||08.01.11 at 6:39 am ET|
After being spurned by prized free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the Jets came to an agreement with controversial corner Antonio Cromartie. The New York Post reports that the deal is for four years and $32 million.
Tweeted Cromartie: They say Cro is back, Cro is back all #GangGreen fans say is Cro… I’m on my FLT headed home glad 2 b a JET…let’s go win a Superbowl.
Cromartie had 42 tackles (41 solo), three interceptions and 17 passes defended last season, his first with the Jets after four seasons in San Diego. He also led the team in penalties and touchdown passes allowed.
The Jets are scheduled to hold their first practice of training camp Monday in Florham Park, N.J.
Tweeted Cromartie early Monday morning: Ok guys taking off c u guys at Florham Park God Bless u all…Jet sailing 2 be a JET…goodnight 2 some and good morning to others I’m out.
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