Florham Park, N.J.– It started immediately after the Jets finished off the Bengals Thursday night.
The game was filled with it’s ups and downs and an abundance of story lines, but the most asked questions following the game were not about the win over the Bengals, but about the Jets upcoming battle against the Patriots.
It only took until the second question Rex Ryan was asked during his post game press conference before the Patriots and Tom Brady were brought into the discussion. Ryan was asked about how nice it was to see the defense create some turnovers and it became clear Ryan’s focus was already on the Patriots.
“We’ll it was huge for us, it looked like we almost had another one, but you know it was good. It’s crazy we’ve only had five interceptions up until this game, so now we got seven.” Ryan said, “But again they happen in bunches and now we got Tom Brady on Monday night, so we’ll see, but he hasn’t thrown an interception in 199 attempts or something like that, but we’ll see if we can’t change that.”
In the locker room after the game Darrelle Revis was asked at what point do the Jets actually start thinking about the Patriots and said, “I mean we know we play them (laughing). I mean the thought is already there. It’s a long week, we get a couple of days off, which I think is good, it’s like a mini-bye for us and we’ll get back for them on Monday.”
“I think it’s going to be a great game. A high intensity game, they’re going to bring their best and we’re going to bring ours too.” Revis said, “I’m looking forward (to it) and I’m sure the Patriots are too.
When Revis was asked if he could remember a game between the Jets and Patriots having this much importance Revis said, “No, no. I think this is a lot for both teams to prove who’s the best team. We’re both 9-2, both of us are considered to be one of the top teams in the NFL and it’s going to be big, it’s going to be fireworks and it’s going to be time to play a great game.”
All of this was said just minutes after the Jets finished beating the Bengals, so you can imagine how many different Patriots related questions were being thrown around today.
Ryan started off his press conference today acknowledging the fact that his press conference was filled with a few extra members of the media than normal.
“First off, see that’s what I’m talking about, (there’s) a few more people in here today, that’s the way we like it.” Ryan said, “You’d think two 9-2 teams are going at it, which of course they are.”
Both teams are sitting at the top of not only their division, but the entire league (with only Atlanta also having a 9-2 record). Many Jets fans will no doubt look back to the week two game and take confidence from that game, but both teams are completely different than they were in week two and the Jets players are well aware of that fact.
“It means absolutely nothing (the week two win over the Pats), each game takes it’s own identity and we have to be prepared for the situation that occurs and how the personality of this game goes.” Bart Scott said, “But what I am confident about is we’ve been in some very tight spots and we’ve had to respond to a lot of different circumstances and we’ll be prepared for any circumstance (that) comes, to approach it in a professional manner.”
The last time the Jets faced the Patriots, they had to focus most of their attention of the explosiveness of Randy Moss, but since Moss’ departure from New England, this Patriots offense has evolved into an entirely different animal.
Tom Brady doesn’t care who his receivers are and honestly neither should opposing teams. When you play the Patriots, you play Brady and with his track record of using multiple weapons it’s important that the Jets are aware of the changes the Patriots offense have made since the last time they played.
Revis said, “They have weapons. They always did. I think when Moss was there, they gave him a lot of touches and Wes Welker, (as well). Now, I think they have had to get more plays out of guys. (Aaron) Hernandez has stepped up and played well. Danny (Woodhead) has stepped up and played a role. They have guys that can play a role and step up at times.”
Bart Scott said, “I think they’ve changed as a football team. They have a new identity, getting their running backs out. Danny Woodhead has been a great addition for them. (They are) working those tight ends. Deion Branch is more of a route-runner and gives you more things to think about. They’re playing well right now and it’s going to be a tough challenge, but we’ll be ready for them.”
With all the different option Brady has, Scott says the most important thing for the defense is that they make sure they protect every inch of the field.
“You just have to be fundamentally sound, stay in the pocket and make sure you get a read of the route to throw their timing off. Normally, when they’re out there, you are going to be locked.” Scott said, “They look around and there might be a favorable matchup they like and Brady sees (it). (You have to) know that you’re going to have to be the guy that has to make that play that time.”
The key to beating the Patriots is obviously stopping Brady, but with Brady having such a diverse arsenal at his disposal it raises the question of who will Revis and Cromartie line up against.
“Deion Branch, I played him my second year, when he was in Seattle.” Revis said, “We still don’t know the game-plan yet of what’s going on and who I’m watching or who Cro (Antonio Cromartie) is watching. Right now, we’re still weaving things out and we’ll try to game-plan the best way we can.”
As much as things have changed for the Patriots since the last time they played, there are just as many new problems that the Patriots will have to deal with from the Jets.
In week two, Revis pulled his hamstring right before the half, but is now back to last year’s dominating form. Calvin Pace was out with a broken foot and Santonio Holmes was serving a four-game suspension. The Jets offense exploded and absolutely lit up the Patriots defense without Holmes, meanwhile Holmes has been the Jets most explosive player over the past five weeks, the addition of Holmes has to be worrying to the Patriots vulnerable defense.
As good as the Patriots offense has been the defense has been equally inept as they currently have the second worst defense in the league, statistically speaking. The Jets will need to take advantage of this if they hope to win on Monday.
Damien Woody said he is still sore after playing through his injury last week, but insists this game means far too much for him to miss.
Jerricho Cotchery, who missed the last two games because of a groin injury, was limited in practice, but is fully expecting to play. With the players having tomorrow and Wednesday off, Cotchery says he will know for more on Thursday, but says a division game with both teams at 9-2 should be all the answer we need from him as to whether or not he will play.
“This is probably one of the bigger games. My rookie year, we played the Patriots up there and we were both 5-0, but that was early in the season, but at this point and time both of us are 9-2 and we’re fighting for that division.” Cotchery said, “We’re fighting for a lot of things (also) falls in the conference order. It’s a big game so everyone has to come out with that in mind and be ready to make those plays come crunch-time.”
Monday’s are normally spent going over the previous week’s game, with questions about the next opponent being put off until Wednesday. But this game is too big, too important and garnishing too much attention to not be dissected from every possible angle from now until kickoff and that’s something these Jets players all understand.
The game is still seven days away, but just as the media is seizing on the opportunity to talk about this battle for temporary supremacy, the players are also making sure to soak up the importance and focus their attention solely on the Patriots.
“Well, we all know what this game means, it’s huge.” Scott said, “The winner of this game puts themselves in a great position and the loser, leaves themselves vulnerable.”
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