|Tom Brady appreciates the ‘amazing’ Darrelle Revis and ponders what makes up an MVP||12.17.14 at 9:58 pm ET|
Brady had no such restrictions on him when he was asked his impressions of what Revis has meant to the Patriots’ defense and the team overall.
“He’s a phenomenal player and I’ve loved playing with him,” Brady said. “I’ve hated playing against him, and I’ve had my fair share of those opportunities. He’s a great teammate. He’s a phenomenal player. I think the thing that I’m so impressed with is his coverage skills without getting penalties.”
Avoiding penalties has certainly been a challenge, not only for the Patriots but everyone across the NFL. Flags are up around the league at the rate of two more per game. But Revis has been able to avoid the laundry being heaved in his direction. He has been hit with just two accepted penalties this season, both for defensive holding. Brady sees that as remarkable considering officials have been on higher alert for illegal contact beyond the line of scrimmage.
“That’s a rare thing to be backpedaling when the guys who are some of the best athletes in the world are running at you as fast as they can with the size and speed of the way the receivers are, and to be able to cover those guys like he does is pretty amazing.”
Brady also spoke of the growth he’s seen from Rob Gronkowski in the five years he’s spent with him. In Brady, Gronkowski and Revis, it could be argued that the Patriots have three players putting up MVP-type seasons. So, what is the difference between a valuable football player as opposed to an outstanding one?
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price preview the Week 16 battle between the 11-3 Patriots and 3-11 New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. With a win against the Jets and a Denver Broncos loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night in Cincinnati, the Patriots will clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
|Tom Brady is tired of close calls vs. Jets, wants to see Pats play 60 minutes ‘for once’||at 12:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — He understands the records are what they are heading into Sunday’s Week 16 showdown, but Tom Brady doesn’t want to see the Patriots biting their nails heading into the final minute if they can help it. Brady recalls, of course, the 27-25 escape against the Jets on Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium, when Chris Jones saved the day with a blocked field goal at the end.
He also recalls last year at MetLife Stadium when the Patriots raced out to a 21-10 halftime lead, only to allow the Jets back in the game and lose in overtime when Jones was called for an illegal play at the line of scrimmage on a field goal attempt.
This year, Brady is hoping for something a little different. More like the “Butt Fumble” game of Thanksgiving 2012 when the Patriots feasted on Rex Ryan‘s Jets, 49-19.
Brady is taking no comfort in New York’s 3-11 record or the fact they’ve lost by two touchdowns in five of their 11 losses.
“I don’t know why those scores go the way they do against other teams,” Brady said. “Against us, they always seem to be close. You just don’t want to go down there and have a bunch of poor execution like we’ve done in the past. I think we really have to focus on our execution and try to go out there and play good for once. I think that’s kind of what we’ve been talking about, playing our style of football for 60 minutes and see what that looks like because we haven’t done a great job against the Jets doing that.
“It’s a great rivalry. We’ve always had some pretty interesting games against them. A lot of them come down to the wire, especially recently. They’ve got a real good defense. They’re good up front, do a great job against the run. We’re going to have to go out and play really well. I know the records are what they are but we don’t look at it like that. I think it’s a good challenge for us. We lost going to the Meadowlands last year. So, we’re anticipating getting their best game.”
The Patriots, of course, are 11-3 and looking for the top seed in the AFC, which they will get with a win over the Jets and a Denver loss in Cincinnati Monday night. But the Patriots QB knows the offense needs to get back to getting off to fast starts, a trademark during their seven-game win streak.
“It’s frustrating for all of us when we’re not scoring the type of points we’re capable of doing,” Brady said of the struggles against the Dolphins in the first half last Sunday. “I just have to focus on what I’ve got to do better, and I can certainly do better in that area, making better decisions, better throws. We’re going to need it this week against this team because they challenge you in a lot of ways. They’ve got a multitude of things that they do. They’ve always done that. They really test your communication. Certainly, execution is something that we look at all the past games we’ve played against them and think, ‘God, our execution just wasn’t very sharp.’ We have to be very sharp this week.”
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|Rex Ryan insists ‘our record is the only thing that stinks’ heading into Patriots showdown||at 11:25 am ET|
Rex Ryan knows his team is 3-11 on the season. He also knows his team is a heavy underdog this Sunday in what could be his final game as Jets coach before the New York faithful.
But for all that has been written and said about the discord and dysfunction around the Jets in another season to forget, the Jets coach insisted Wednesday in a conference call with the Patriots’ media that he loves his team and their effort.
“Anything that is swirling around inside our team, I’m proud of this team,” Ryan said. “We’ve got nothing [in terms of controversy]. Some guys’ reports are probably as far off as any I’ve ever seen. This team is tight. Our record is the only thing that stinks. We’ve got a great group of guys that care, that prepare, practice hard and it’s just obviously unfortunate that our record is what it is but it has nothing to do with the type of character in this room.”
Asked what he thinks of his place in the Patriots-Jets rivalry, should this indeed be his last game coaching the Jets, Ryan begged off, preferring instead to focus on the game at hand.
“I have no idea. We all know what’s getting ready to happen in this game. We know that both teams give their maximum effort against each other,” Ryan said. “I don’t think each team particularly likes each other but it’s on. Regardless of what the record is, we could be playing for first place, or whatever, but it’s the same effort always. It’s usually a close game and it’s usually a physical game.
“I never have to worry about them, regardless of who we play. We’re professionals and we get a chance to play a game, and it’s a game we love and we’re going to play it to the best of our abilities.”
“Well, I think their whole defense has changed quite a bit since the last time we played them,” Ryan added. “They’ve brought in a couple of big guys. Chandler Jones [hurt against Jets], a tremendous player. But the coverages and recognizing a lot of different coverages that haven’t really played in the past that they’re playing now.
“There’s a couple of different ways to play man coverage but they’re starting to do some different things in the man. It’s kind of hard to explain but we recognize it. They’re doing a good job of it, obviously.”
|Bill Belichick knows Rex Ryan and Jets want to run it down their throats||12.16.14 at 4:21 pm ET|
With a 3-11 record, gone is the cockiness but the desire to find different ways to run the ball is still priority No. 1 with Ryan’s Jets. Whether it’s Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Jeremy Kerley or even the newly acquired Percy Harvin, the Jets are trying to compensate for the lack of a passing attack from Geno Smith. But Smith, along with Ivory, Johnson, Kerley and Harvin, is a definite threat to run.
“Well they use a lot of guys. They have a lot of good runners: Ivory probably runs as hard as any player we’ve played against recently. Johnson has a lot of skill; Smith hurt us running in the first game. He’s a good runner, he’s a very athletic guy, can scramble in the passing game,” Belichick said. “They ran a bunch of reverses, Kerley, obviously Harvin. They use a lot of people in their running game to make you defend from sideline to sideline, as well as the inside power-type games and some read-option plays.”
Harvin has 31 carries for 201 yards (6.5 yards/attempt) and a touchdown this season, 21 of those coming with the Jets after he was acquired from Seattle. Ivory leads the Jets with 739 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Johnson has 613 yards and a 4.5 yards/carry average with a touchdown. If there’s a way the Patriots could be in trouble Sunday at MetLife, it starts with the Jets getting their running game up to speed.
“They have a very extensive and diverse running game,” Belichick said. “This will probably be the most volume of running game schemes and run game issues that they create that we’ve had in quite a while, certainly all year.
With Smith struggling as a passer, the Jets have turned back to their “Wildcat” to try and take some pressure off the signal caller, sometimes taking Smith off the field altogether.
“I think the Wildcat is, like a lot of things, defensively you just have to be ready for it every week. Wildcat, unbalanced line, empty formation, all those different type of things, if a team has shown them, they’ve shown them,” Belichick said. “But if they haven’t shown them, there’s always a possibility that they could put something like that together as a game plan thing. We always have to be ready for those type of things.
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Ryan said Monday that he has tremendous respect for Belichick and the Patriots. And while on Tuesday, Belichick said he has respect for the Jets, he wasn’t interested in throwing a bouquet of flowers at Rex on what could be his penultimate game on the Jets’ sidelines.
“We have a lot of respect for the Jets,” Belichick said on a conference call of the 3-11 Jets. “They’re a good football team. We had a real competitive game with them earlier in the year.”
That 27-25 escape job thanks to the left paw of Chris Jones serves as a reminder that this isn’t so much about recalling past battles as it is focusing on a team that will be hellbent on spoiling New England’s bid for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
“I’m not really that concerned about what happened five, 10, 15 years ago. [I’m] more concerned about this matchup this week. They played another tight, tough game last week and beat the Titans at the end. They’ve been in a lot of close games — won some, lost some. We were in one with them and expect a tough, 60-minute battle.”
That didn’t keep the questions coming about Rex’s Jets against Belichick’s Patriots. Ryan won the only postseason match up Jan. 2011 but overall, Belichick holds an 8-4 advantage since Ryan came to New York proclaiming he wasn’t about to kiss “Belichick’s rings.”
Belichick was asked Tuesday if he’s enjoyed competing against Ryan, his teams and his scheme since 2009.
“I mean, every week we have challenges,” Belichick said. “Every team has good players, good coaches and tough matchups. This is the Jets.”
|5 things you have to know about Jets||12.15.14 at 2:09 pm ET|
Here are five things you have to know about the Jets, who will host the Patriots Sunday at MetLife Stadium:
They can still run the ball pretty well.
In Chris Ivory (174 carries, 739 yards, 6 TDs) and Chris Johnson (135 carries, 613 yards, 1 TD), the Jets still have some semblance of a ground game. (Johnson also had his long run of 37 yards Sunday against the Titans out of the wildcat.) The Jets actually have three games this season where they’ve rushed for more than 200 yards, including 218 the last time they played the Patriots and 277 this past Sunday in a 16-11 win over the Titans. They’re second in the league in rushing yards per game (147.1) and total rushing yards (2,060), and they’re tied for second with the Saints and Chiefs when it comes to yards per carry (4.7). It’s important to note that much of that rushing yardage has come as the result of good situational football. They’ve run it in the right situations — either in hopes of doing all they could to kill the clock when they’ve had a lead, or when faced with a defense that has occasionally struggled to stop the run. When they do run it, they’re more likely to try and go up the gut — according to NFLSavant, a sizable majority of their running plays this year have gone behind center Nick Mangold, who is accorded as one of the better run blocking centers in the league. (In Week 7 against the Patriots, the majority of the runs came over center.) Given the sturdiness of Mangold, when the Jets do try and run it this week, look for them to try and test the middle of the New England run defense.
They are really bad in the passing game.
Both Geno Smith (58 percent completion rate, 1,957 passing yards, 9 TDs, 12 INTs) and Michael Vick (53 percent completion rate, 604 passing yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) have struggled to get much of anything going in the passing game. The Jets are last in the league in total passing yards (2,365) and passing yards per game (169), and they’re 31st in completion percentage (56.1) and yards per attempt (5.9). Wide receiver Eric Decker (62 catches, 100 targets, 720 yards, 4 TDs) is easily the best and most productive receiver the Jets have. After a semi-decent start, rookie tight end Jace Amaro (35 catches on 47 targets, 311 yards, 2 TDs) has trailed off as of late — he’s had just three catches since the start of November, but is still the second-leading pass catcher on the team. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (34 catches on 67 targets, 322 yards, 1 TD) and newcomer Percy Harvin (25 catches on 47 targets, 306 yards, 1 TD) have performed well in spurts this season. If you are looking to break down possible assignments when Patriots go man coverage, it’s certainly realistic to think that Kyle Arrington (if healthy) will be on Kerley, who has been the primary slot option for the Jets this year. Meanwhile, Decker and Harvin would draw the Brandon Browner/Darrelle Revis combo, and Amaro would see Pat Chung and/or Jamie Collins.
They have a good front four, but not much else.
The Jets defensive front is still competitive, with Sheldon Richardson (6.5 sacks), Muhammad Wilkerson (4.5 sacks), Calvin Pace (4 sacks) and Quinton Coples (4 sacks) providing the bulk of the New York pass rush that could give the Patriots some issues up front. In the first game between the two teams, the Jets were able to sack Brady once (veteran linebacker David Harris got to him) and hit him seven times, with Wilkerson delivering three of those shots on the quarterback. On the back end, there’s really not much to speak of — per Football Outsiders, entering this past weekend, they were the worst team in the league when it came to defending tight ends and No. 3 receivers. In addition, they’re 16th against No. 1 receivers and 28th against No. 2 receivers. Small wonder that one former AFC scout I spoke with on Monday believes that if he gets just enough time, Brady should be able to have a big afternoon.