Patriots

Brady not playing Jets games until Sunday

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Brady not playing Jets games until Sunday

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO Tom Brady is not in the mood this week.

The hype, the politics, and the mind games that Jets week comes packaged in: Brady's not interested. When he stepped to the podium Wednesday the force field was immediately activated.

Right out of the gate, he was asked about New England's 2010 playoff loss to Rex Ryan's crew. Does an early postseason exit -- at home, no less -- serve as extra motivation for this October match up?

"That was a long time ago, so that game doesn't have much bearing on this week," he said evenly. "We're a different team."

And that was the end of that.

According to the Patriots quarterback, this is a brand new chapter in a very old book. Anything beyond the Xs and Os is a distraction. It's superfluous -- not even amusing. Brady is settling in for a huge divisional game, one that's impossible to predict based on the past. The Jets' current 2-2 record, one that features back-to-back losses to the Bills and Ravens, means nothing to the Patriots.

"They're a tough team, very physical," Brady said. "They lead the league in a bunch of defensive categories. They're very challenging to play. They have been since -- it's always the Jets -- since I got here 10 years, 12 years ago. It's a fun game to be a part of. I hope we go out there and play better than the last time we played them."

New England lost last season's playoff bout with the Jets, 28-21. It gave Ryan's team the series edge for the year after a regular season split. And there was some sense in the result; New York was the overall better team last season.

But a few things have changed. The Jets are ranked No. 25 in total offense with 308.0 yards per game compared to New England's gaudy 507.5. Quarterback Mark Sanchez's 55.1 completion percentage (81-for-147) is well below the fold (Brady is 109-for-163, 66.9 percent). The Patriots also have a 13 to 6 touchdown advantage.

Brady: Don't care. Don't care. Don't care.

"They were good last year, they're good this year, they were good two years ago," he said. "I think as long as Rex is coaching that team, they're going to have a good defense. They've got a lot of good defensive players: David Harris and Bart Scott, good front, corners who can cover, safeties . . . it's a good team."

Even after they lost in Baltimore last week, 34-17? Yup.

"They still played pretty well defensively," Brady said. "I don't think Flacco threw for 50 percent. The Ravens had a bunch of scores -- defensive scores -- but that doesn't really affect me any. We're preparing for a very good defense; tough, physical style that's good in pass coverage. They lead the league in first down defense. They lead the league in third down defense. They're one of the best we play all year."

Flacco actually threw for 32 percent on 10-for-31 passing. It was ugly. As Brady mentioned, the Ravens scored, but got touchdowns on two fumble returns and a pick. The Jets defense isn't getting lucky on interceptions with a 325-pound tackle throwing up his hands at the right time, they're getting the plays from the guys expected to make them: linebackers Josh Mauga and David Harris each have one, safety Eric Smith has one, shutdown cornerback Darelle Revis has one, and his partner in crime, Antonio Cromartie, has two.

And Cromartie can't wait to visit New England.

He's expressed a vehement dislike for Brady in the past and set his sights on the Patriots QB while still in Baltimore. Brady is wary of the threat because he respects the talent.

"Cromartie's very good. Excellent player," Brady said. "They have two very good corners. They've got a bunch of good corners, actually. The two that are out there regularly on defense are very good -- both fast, both physical. They play well at the line of scrimmage. They're very disruptive. They lead the league in pass defense."

What Brady doesn't respect is the melodrama. As soon as the questions turned to the off-field games, to Cromartie's insults and yammering, he clammed up.

"I don't care what he says about me. I really don't."

The rest of the presser was lost. Even questions about game planning couldn't bring Brady out of his mood.

On adjusting to Revis? "We kind of just call our plays and wherever he lines up, he lines up on them. If a guy gets open, he gets the ball as we've shown, and if he doesn't, somebody else gets the ball.

On how much he's using receiver Wes Welker? "You throw to the open guy. If he's open, he'll get it. If he's not, someone else will get it. He's done a good job of getting open."

A third question about Cromartie's criticisms was the death blow.

"I really don't care what he says," Brady said. He gave a curt thanks and walked out.

To think the lack of engagement indicates a lack of bloodlust for the rivalry is all wrong. It's because this week is tremendously important to Tom Brady and the Patriots that they've put blinders on.The focus is ahead, it's on the future. And it's on the field.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

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QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

3:00 Why has Bill Belichick been so surprisingly positive of his team’s performance in tight wins?

6:30 Phil Perry breaks down what grades he gave the Patriots on his report card following the win over the Jets

15:00 Reaction to the Austin-Seferian Jenkins overturned touchdown, and what changes need to be made in the NFL replay system. 

23:00 Why was Patriots offensive line much more effective against Jets?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

25:00 Patriots-Falcons preview, how did Falcons blow a 17 point lead to the Dolphins?

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

FOXBORO - We’re not quite at the point of fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, or 40 years of darkness, or even dogs and cats living together, but this Patriots season isn’t headed down the right path, despite a 4-2 record and the top spot in the AFC East. 

There are several elements that appear missing at this juncture - chief among them a defense that actually has a clue. Please don’t celebrate holding the Jets to 17 points - I’m looking at you, Dont’a Hightower. Josh McCown threw for just 194 yards against the Cleveland freakin’ Browns for goodness sake, but he got you for 354 and two scores?! Even the 2009 Patriots defense is offended by that.

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We’d be foolish to think the Pats can’t get this leaky unit fixed for reasons so obvious I won’t state them in this space so as not to waste my time or yours. We also know - long before Bill Belichick’s 6 1/2-minute explanation on the Monday conference call - that it's not supposed to be perfect right now. Actually, it’ll never be perfect. That’s not how this game works. 

Yet week after week, we see uncommon breakdowns and one defender looking at the next as if to say, “I thought you had him?” or more to the point, “what the hell were you doing?” It started Sunday at MetLife on the third play of the game. Malcolm Butler, playing 10 yards off Robby Anderson, looking as if he’s never played the position before, inexplicably turning his back on Anderson even though the wide receiver makes no real move to the post. That results in just about the easiest completion of McCown’s life, a 23-yarder on third-and-10. 

On the same series, on another third-and-long, the Pats rushed four and dropped seven into coverage. Defensive end Cassius Marsh continued his season-long trend of rushing so far upfield he ended up in Hoboken. With Deatrich Wise ridden outside on the opposite edge, McCown wisely stepped up and found prime real estate with New York City views. He wanted to throw and could have when the Pats fouled up a crossing route from the backside of the play. But with that much room to roam, McCown took off, scooting for a quick 16 yards and another first down.

Fittingly, that drive ended with a Jets touchdown on yet another dumb play, this one courtesy of Mr. Hit or Miss, Elandon Roberts. Channeling his inner Brandon Spikes, the second-year pro blew off his key and responsibility on third-and-goal from the 1, charging hard to the line. This, despite one of the most feeble play-action fakes you’ll see. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a real play-action fake. Anyway, score it as a touchdown to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and an indictment on David Harris, who apparently can’t vault past the erratic Roberts on the depth chart.

Similar to the week prior in Tampa, the Pats found better footing after that. They forced three straight three-and-outs in the second quarter and then helped turn the game when Butler intercepted an ill-advised throw by McCown just prior to the half. They got another turnover to start the third, with Butler coming off the edge on fourth-and-1 and forcing McCown into panic mode. The veteran QB fired an off-target throw to - get this - a wide open receiver who went uncovered on a drag route and Devin McCourty was gifted an interception.

But this group frowns on prosperity. It took a little-seen rule to prevent a Seferian-Jenkins touchdown in the fourth, and on the game’s final drive, the Pats allowed a 32-yard completion on fourth-and-12. Then, on what turned out to be the Jets final play, the Pats let Tavaris Cadet leak out of the backfield and run unchecked 20 yards down the field. Had McCown not soiled himself again, Gang Green would have had a first down and at least one crack at the end zone. Then, who knows what the heck happens?

It was just a season ago that the Patriots led the entire NFL in scoring defense. If you’ll recall, we spent a better part of the year wondering if that defense was championship quality. Turns out they were. Right now, we’re wondering once again if this defense is of that ilk, but through an entirely different prism. It’s on the players and staff to change the current outlook, or those cats and dogs will have to figure out their shared space.