|Rex Ryan on Tom Brady: ‘We’re the team that always gives him the biggest challenge, whether he admits it or not’||12.21.14 at 6:19 pm ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. — If indeed Sunday was Rex Ryan’s last game as head coach of the New York Jets, maybe the happiest guy to see him out of the AFC East is Tom Brady, as Ryan led teams have done historically well against the Patriots’ quarterback.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, going into Sunday, Brady’s completion percentage in games against Jets’ defenses led by Ryan was 59 percent, compared to 65 percent against the rest of the league. That trend continued Sunday as although Brady completed 66 percent of his passes (23-for-35), he wasn’t his usual self and the Jets put tons of pressure on him all game long, forcing him into just 182 yards passing, his lowest since Week 4.
“I don’t know if it is really possible to control Tom Brady. If not, we’re the team that always gives him the biggest challenge, whether he admits it or not,” Ryan said after the game.
“I just think we play defense a lot different than most teams in the league,” Ryan added. “We don’t just line up and play standard defense. I think that’s what I am talking about. Everybody plays hard and we’re no exception. Through the years, that probably holds true.”
Brady was asked what makes facing the Jets defense so difficult?
“I think this is a team that does a lot of things well,” said Brady. “They have good scheme, good players, a good rush, good in the middle of the defense, good middle linebacker, good safeties. The corners played well today. I just think we got their best and I think we kind of sputtered there and got out of rhythm.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 40s are expected for what could be the final road game of the year for the Patriots until the Super Bowl. There is no significant precipitation in the forecast and winds should be light out of the northwest at 8 MPH.
The 11-3 Patriots are 10.5-point favorites against the 3-11 Jets in what many expect to be the home farewell for Rex Ryan in the Meadowlands.
But the Patriots will not be in a sentimental mood, realizing they need a win to cement their place atop the AFC as the No. 1 seed, which carries home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Patriots will clinch the No. 1 seed With a win over the Jets and a Broncos‘ loss in Cincinnati Monday night to the Bengals. The Patriots and Broncos enter their Week 16 games with identical 11-3 records, with the Patriots holding the tiebreaker by virtue of their win on Nov. 2 at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots clinch at least a first-round bye with a win.
For the first time since 2012, the Patriots will play a game without Julian Edelman. He did not make the trip due to a concussion. Tim Wright, Brian Tyms and Danny Amendola are expected to see more reps. Also out are LeGarrette Blount with a shoulder injury and Kyle Arrington with a hamstring injury. Jonas Gray figures to see a heavier load in the run game. If rookie running back James White is activated, it would mark just the third game this season he’s been active, and the first time since Oct. 26 against the Bears.
The Patriots are no doubt aware of what the Redskins accomplished on Saturday against the Eagles at FedEx Field. The Eagles entered the game with a 9-5 mark and with hopes of winning the NFC East. The Redskins were 3-11 and finishing out the string on another miserable season.
This game has significance for Patriots owner Robert Kraft. With a win, he would earn his 250th win in his 368th game as owner. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that would tie Chicago Bears‘ legend George Halas for the fastest to 250 wins as an NFL owner.
The Patriots are naturally looking to extend their dominance of the AFC East as well. The Patriots are 66-18 (.786) in the division since 2001, the best intra-divisional record of any team in the NFL over that period. The Colts are second at 62-23 (.729).
This is the 108th matchup between the two old AFL rivals, with the Patriots holding a 54-52-1 win. The Patriots have dominated the rivalry of late, winning 21 of the last 29 games.
Chris Price has a complete breakdown of what to look for in today’s positional matchups.
It figures to be a somber pregame, with a moment of silence expected for the two Brooklyn police officers murdered while in their patrol cars Saturday.
|Why stopping the Jets on third down means everything to Patriots||12.19.14 at 8:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Before Chris Jones saved the day with a blocked field goal attempt by Nick Folk on the game’s last play, Bill Belichick remembers exactly how the Patriots found themselves in such a precarious position with the lowly Jets on Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots allowed Geno Smith and the Jets to convert 9-of-16 third down chances to extend drives.
“Yeah, killed us,” Belichick recalled Friday morning.
Devin McCourty was a bit more expansive.
“Big point [of emphasis],” McCourty said. “They dominated third down and that gave the ability to dominate the time of possession and keep our offense off the field, keep them in long drive, help them really be able to pound the ball against us. We’ve got to play better on third down.
“Every week, we talk about third down and red area being a lot of times the determining factor in a game. I think it’s no different this week and now, coming up to a game where we’ve already played them, they were over 50 percent on third. It was evidence in watching that film, that third down really killed us.”
If there’s one sure way to keep the 3-11 Jets hanging around on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it’s allowing them to convert 56 percent of their chances on third down, keeping the Patriots’ defense on the field for extended period.
“Third down was a big problem for us in that game on both sides of the ball,” Belichick said. “It’s been a problem for us with them. We don’t have the ball very long on offense and we’re out there on the field too long on defense. It’s us converting them and it’s us, well, it’s converting them on both sides.”
By contrast, the Patriots converted just 6-of-13 chances (46 percent) on that soggy Thursday night. That night in October, the Jets found a way to convert nine third downs, outrush the Patriots 218-63, outdistance the Patriots in first downs (28-16) and outlast New England in time of possession (40:54-19:06). The Patriots somehow found a way to win.
“It’s us converting them offensively to stay on the field and it’s us converting them defensively to get off the field and get the ball back for our offense and with good field position,” Belichick added. “We haven’t made them punt very much. We just have too many, they have too many extended drives and we’ve had too many short ones.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to talk about the Patriots, the Jets and other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
It’s expected that Rex Ryan is in his final days coaching the Jets, who are in last place in the AFC East at 3-11 as they prepare to host the Patriots on Sunday. Schefter said he does not believe Ryan will latch on with another team for the 2015 season.
“I think the chances of Rex Ryan staying in the NFL are slightly better than Jim Harbaugh going to Michigan,” Schefter said after predicting Harbaugh will not leave the pro game to coach his alma mater. “I think Rex Ryan is going to wind up on TV next year. That’s what I’m expecting. I think he’ll be in a studio somewhere. I think he’ll be dishing out opinions. He’ll be about being Rex. To me, just like I’m expecting Jim Harbaugh to be in the NFL, I’m expecting Rex Ryan to be in TV.”
Schefter predicted both Ryan and general manager John Idzik will be fired at season’s end, but he isn’t sure what will happen with inconsistent young quarterback Geno Smith.
“I think that they’re both going to be gone. That’s my read into the situation. I think they’re going to clean house,” Schefter said. “And depending on who they bring in as a head coach and a GM, then they can decide what they’re going to do with the quarterback. But I think that’s the direction that organization is moving right now. When you speak to people around the league, that’s what they believe will happen in New York.”
If the Patriots win Sunday and the Broncos lose to the Bengals on Monday night, that would make New England’s final regular-season game against the Bills unimportant. While it might be good for the Pats to protect some players by having them sit out the final, Schefter isn’t sure that would be the best situation.
“I think Denver wins on Monday night. Would I be surprised if they went into Cincinnati and lost? No. And you know what, I’ve got news for you: I almost think the Patriots are better off that way, with Denver winning,” Schefter said, adding: “To me, the best thing that could happen for the Patriots is that Denver wins out and New England wins out. If Denver loses and New England wins this week and you wrap up the [No. 1 seed], and then essentially you’re not playing for anything next week, and then you get a bye week, that’s three weeks [without a meaningful game].”
Added Schefter: “It just doesn’t come and go. You just can’t turn it on. You’ve got to go play. And the teams usually that fare the best in the postseason are the teams that are just rolling along at the end of the regular season and they just keep rolling into the postseason. And even the teams that start out that first weekend with a wild card win, they get some momentum going and start moving.
“So if you’re the Patriots and you wrap up home-field advantage this weekend and now you’re got a meaningless game next weekend against the Buffalo Bills, that means essentially you’re not playing a meaningful game for the three weeks. I don’t like that. That’s me. Now, Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots, they may want to sit him out, rest him and not give him any opportunities to be hurt. But every game they play is an opportunity for anyone to be hurt. That’s the way it goes. That’s the sport they play.”
Looking to the postseason, Schefter said the Patriots should feel confident against any opponent if the game is in Foxboro.
“The fact of the matter is if you’ve got them in New England, the Patriots should win every playoff game they play in New England,” Schefter said.
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
Continuing a theme of wanting to play hard for their coach and showing they can compete (at least for a day) with the big, bad Patriots in the AFC East, Jeremy Kerley has thrown down the gauntlet.
“This game is personal,” Kerley told New York’s Newsday on Thursday. “It’s as big as people want it to be, or it’s as small as people want it to be. But for us, it’s personal.”
The reason, according to Kerley, is that there is a sense in the Jets locker room and in the building in Florham Park, New Jersey that no one up in Foxboro respects the Jets.
“You can’t give respect to someone who doesn’t respect you,” Kerley told Kimberly Martin of Newsday. “If you don’t give me any respect, I don’t care what you’ve got. I’m coming for you.”
All of this despite Bill Belichick insisting on Wednesday and again on Friday that this will be a very difficult challenge for the 11-3 Patriots, who desperately need the win to stay out in front of the Broncos for top seed in the AFC.
The 3-11 Jets are battling for position atop the NFL draft order in the spring.
Whether it’s this season’s records or the fact the Patriots have utterly dominated the series in the Bill Belichick era in Foxboro (21-8), the Jets are playing the disrespect card to the hilt.
“They don’t honestly respect us as a franchise,” Willie Colon said. “It just doesn’t seem like we get any respect. And maybe it needs to be earned. Respect is earned, it’s not given.”
Except for a shocking playoff loss in Jan. 2011, the Patriots have made life miserable for Rex Ryan, winning eight of the 12 meetings between the two since Ryan’s tenure with the Jets began in 2009. There has been plenty of speculation that the 13th meeting will be the final episode in the drama, as Ryan could be given his walking papers after the season.
“Is it special to beat the Patriots? They’re the ones that you try to beat,” Ryan said. “Even though the year hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to, sure you want to beat them, without question.”
As for Colon, he acknowledged that the Patriots are “the top dog every year,” but added, “I don’t like ‘em and it is what it is. Listen, I don’t take anything from New England. They win with whatever they have. So you’ve got to be able to respect them.”
The Jets are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in recent memory, going 3-11 through 14 games. The possibility at a high pick in the upcoming draft has some thinking the Jets might not be motivated for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Harrison said coach Rex Ryan and his staff will get his team to play its hardest.
“I think one of the strengths of Rex Ryan is his ability to motivate his players and really give them perspective. And he’s been really good at that, getting the most out of his players,” Harrison said. “As bad or as crazy as that may sound, I do believe that Rex Ryan is a heck of a football coach. Sometimes the in-game management is off a little bit — he doesn’t have that as a strength of his coaching ability. But at the same time, he’s one of those guys, he can motivate you, he’s very emotional, he cares about his players. So, he can tell his players, ‘Look, we’ve had success against the guys. We feel like offensively they don’t have the weapons they had before. Yes, they have Rob Gronkowski and some other things, Tom Brady, but we can compete with guys and we can beat these guys.’ Just like you said before, ‘We’re not afraid of the Patriots.’ He’ll have those guys pumped up.
“The main thing for the Patriots is, as a player, you never want to get into a situation where you overlook a team. I’ve been on a team where I played on a 1-15 team, a 4-12 team, and you’re still playing for your livelihood. Guys are playing for contracts, guys are playing not to get injured. So you have a lot guys who have a lot of stuff on the line and also the coaches evaluate and the general managers and other teams evaluate this team and see if guys are quitting. And I guarantee the Jets won’t quit. But the one way you make a team like the Jets get discouraged is you come out and you take a 14- to 17-point lead and all of a sudden you’ll see those guys shutting down.”
Harrison said Belichick has a few methods to make sure the Patriots won’t take the Jets lightly.
“I think one aspect is he’ll go back and he’ll probably grab some plays of just what the Jets can do, what can they can do offensively, how good they are from a defensive line standpoint,” Harrison said. “And he’ll continue to push the guys. In meetings, he’ll call out different guys in practice and making sure the guys hustle. And he’ll be tough this week. He won’t be one of those guys walking around smiling, he’ll be tough on the guys.”
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price preview what the Patriots must do to avoid a Jets upset||12.17.14 at 4:49 pm ET|
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.