Jets look to slow Brady, Pats' up-tempo offense

Jets look to slow Brady, Pats' up-tempo offense

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Yeremiah Bell has seen plenty of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' offense over the years.

Nothing quite like this, though.

``In previous years, you could almost paint them as a passing team because that's what they did,'' said the veteran safety, in his first year with the New York Jets after eight with Miami. ``They're running the ball a lot more this year, so it gives them a different look. You can't always just kind of sit back and play pass anymore. You have to respect the run because they're doing a good job at it.

``It's a little different for them.''

And for everyone else, too.

Sure, the Patriots have always been an explosive offense. Brady is still, well, Brady, and he can fling it around the field all day with Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and his dynamic duo of tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. But New England is running the ball more effectively than in previous years, with Stevan Ridley leading a ground game that's averaging 4.2 yards a carry.

Pass or run? It's anyone's guess these days, and opposing defenses have had to figure it out fast. New England is playing at a speedy pace these days, an up-tempo offense that's fast and tricky - and uses the no-huddle to perfection, causing some confusion for defenses wanting to substitute players.

``It's just another no-huddle, but it is up-tempo,'' coach Rex Ryan said Friday. ``It is a different thing. They will substitute and still speed it up. Sometimes when they substitute, you're supposed to be allowed to substitute with them. We'll see about that, but they move at such a quick pace that you have to be alert and if you have to sub, you have to make your substitution extremely quick.''

The Patriots ran 94 offensive plays two weeks ago against Denver and gained a team-record 35 first downs in a 31-21 victory. They have run 473 plays from scrimmage in six games, an eye-popping average of nearly 79 offensive snaps a game. That's 39 plays more - over half a game's worth for most teams - than the Kansas City Chiefs, who are second in the league with 434.

New England's offense is ranked No. 1 overall with 445.3 yards per game, 29.5 first downs a game and 188 total points.

``I don't think we're going to shut them down,'' Ryan said. ``Nobody is going to shut them down. Obviously, you have to do a good enough job to get them off the field. You can't let them keep driving the football like they do. It is going to be a challenge.''

Ryan's defense played its best game a week ago, stopping rookie Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis offense by causing turnovers and holding the Colts to just three field goals. The Jets know things will be different in New England on Sunday, so they have been trying to simulate the Patriots' up-tempo approach at practice all week, with Tim Tebow playing the role of Brady.

``We've practiced it in camp, minicamp, and it's not our first time we've gone up against a hurry-up, even against our own offense,'' safety LaRon Landry said. ``As far as whether it'll be a challenge, who knows? Who knows what they're going to do out of it, and they don't know what we're capable of, either. So, we'll have to see how the flow of the game goes. But as far as hanging our hat on their no-huddle, I'm not going to say that's the biggest challenge.''

Facing a Brady-led team is a challenge in itself, of course. Especially one that is clicking the way it has this season. New England is 3-3, including a 24-23 loss at Seattle last Sunday, but is a combined four points from being 6-0.

And, a large reason for the success is the same as always: Brady.

He has thrown for 1,845 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, and his 97.2 quarterback rating is sixth in the league.

``A lot of it is Brady, but on the other hand, they have some good players there,'' Bell said. ``They've got some excellent tight ends, they've got some receivers who have been in this league for a while. You can't just throw all the credit on Brady.''

Some Jets players say it's the tight ends who make the Patriots dangerous, while linebacker David Harris insists it's still the Brady-to-Welker connection that does it. Welker is second in the NFL with 48 receptions for 622 yards and two touchdowns.

``Without Welker the last five or six years, the offense wouldn't be anywhere as good as it has been,'' said Harris, who will have the task of calling the defensive signals Sunday. ``He's a great player. And, yeah, they also have two great tight ends who present matchup problems in the middle of the field.''

Gronkowski and Hernandez played at least a small part in the Jets' decision in the offseason to go after physical safeties in the offseason, bringing in Bell and Landry to patrol the middle of the field to try to take away some of the tight ends' effectiveness.

``It's going to be a part of the game, but that's not our main focus, to stop Gronkowski and Hernandez,'' Bell said. ``Our main focus is to win the ballgame. We know they're a big part of the offense and Brady's going to get them the ball. Are we going to have to step up our game? Yeah, but we don't see stopping them as what's going to win us the ballgame. We've got to stop everybody else, including them.

``They've got a lot of weapons, so we have a lot of people to worry about.''

Maybe more this season than ever before when it comes to the Patriots.

``They're a very disciplined team and they don't beat themselves,'' Harris said. ``But we're familiar with their personnel - they know us and we know them, so it's really going to be like a chess match.''

NOTES: Ryan said earlier in the week there was ``a possibility'' Tebow could play some at running back on Sunday. Tebow would say only that he ``practiced carrying the ball a few times.'' When asked if he specifically practiced at running back, Tebow smiled and said: ``If running back is carrying the ball, then sure.'' ... RB Shonn Greene was voted the FedEx Ground Player of the Week by fans after he ran for a career-high 161 yards and three TDs against Indianapolis.


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Defense optional as Caps handed 8-5 loss in Chicago

Defense optional as Caps handed 8-5 loss in Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks handed the Capitals their fifth straight loss on Sunday in an ugly 8-5 defeat. All five of Washington's goals came from defensemen as the team's top forwards continued to struggle.

Here are five reasons the Caps lost.

Missed early opportunities

The game got off to a great start. Tom Wilson fed Jakub Vrana in the middle for a great early opportunity and Lars Eller had another shot with the rebound. Washington also got a power play less than two minutes into the game and was brilliant with the setup, keeping the puck in the zone for the full two minutes and getting a number of high-quality opportunities.

But they didn’t score and that soon loomed very large.

Brandon Saad put Chicago on the board 6:36 into the first and Patrick Kane scored 80 seconds later to make it 2-0, thus erasing the Caps’ strong start.

The goals have been hard to come by for the Caps so when they had the opportunity to take the early lead, they absolutely had to finish. They didn’t and the game got away from them as a result.

A bad play by Madison Bowey

Bowey will be cringing at the replay of the Saad goal for a while. Saad broke the puck out of the defensive zone and carried it into the neutral zone. Bowey had a bead on him until Saad cut to the center. Suddenly Bowey was caught flat footed. He reached for Saad with a weak stick check which Saad easily fought through with no real resistance and he was in on net. He finished the play with the game’s first goal.

 An own-goal

This was really the moment when you realized this was not going to be a good day for Washington.

Down 2-0, Brooks Orpik managed to sneak a softy through goalie Colin Delia to make it 2-1. Just 28 seconds later, however, bad luck struck the Caps yet again.

Dmitry Orlov and Jonathan Toews battled for the puck right in front of the crease and it bounced into he air. Orlov swiped at it with his glove to try to clear it from danger, but instead knocked it right over Holtby and into the net. The own goal made it 3-1 and signaled that Washington was in for a long day.

An ill-advised penalty

This game felt like it quickly was getting out of hand. Somehow, however, the Caps managed to keep things close. Dmitry Orlov snuck another squeaker through Delia in the second and John Carlson fired a one-timer early in the third to make the score 4-3. All of a sudden, the Caps had signs of life. With all the momentum on their side, however, Nicklas Backstrom was whistled for hooking Toews just 23 seconds later.

You could tell what was about to happen.

Sure enough, Kane scored 13 seconds into the power play to restore the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead.

The Toews hat trick

Once again, Washington tried to battle back. Matt Niskanen scored with just over six minutes remaining in the game, the fifth goal from a Caps’ defenseman, to pull the score to 6-5. Toews provided the coffin nail just over a minute later with an absolutely brutal play on Orlov.

Toews entered the offensive zone and Orlov took an awful approach. Toews finessed the puck right in front of Orlov which he should have been able to easily sweep away. Instead, he whiffed completely allowing Toews to regain the puck, step past Orlov and fired it under the pad and into the net.


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5 things to know about new Wizards guard Gary Payton II, also known as 'The Mitten'

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5 things to know about new Wizards guard Gary Payton II, also known as 'The Mitten'

The Wizards are set to add guard Gary Payton II on a 10-day contract to fill their 14th roster spot. Here are five things to know about the Wizards' newest player...

1. Payton II is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton Sr. His father made nine All-Star teams, nine All-NBA teams, won a title with the Heat on 2006 and is considered one of the best defensive players of all-time. Payton starred for the Seattle Supersonics in the 1990s, so naturally Payton II is originally from Seattle.

2. His father also had one of the best NBA nicknames of all-time. He was known as 'The Glove.' So, according to Basketball Reference, Payton II is sometimes referred to as 'The Mitten.' 

3. Payton II, a point guard, is listed at 6-foot-3 and shoots left-handed. He has appeared in 29 total NBA games split between the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He was Thomas Bryant's teammate in L.A. 

Payton II also spent time with the Portland Trailblazers in 2018-19 training camp before getting released in October. Since then, he played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the G-League where he averaged 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.4 steals in 13 games.

4. Just like his father, Payton II played his college ball at Oregon State. With the Beavers, Payton II became the first player to win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year twice. He averaged 2.8 steals per game in college.

5. Payton goes by Payton II, not by Payton Jr. That's because his half-brother is Gary Payton Jr. Payton Sr. named two of his sons after himself. There is also a third Payton brother named Julian, according to Payton II's college bio.