Trent Dilfer believes that Tom Brady’s response to Antonio Cromartie and the trash-talking Jets will come on Sunday afternoon.
“I think he’s going to unleash hell on them,” the former NFL quarterback and current ESPN football analyst said in a conference call today (which was dutifully transcribed by Neil Best, thank you very much!). “I do. Early in the week I really felt like the Jets had a chance in this game. I was looking for every reason this thing can be an epic battle and that the Jets can redeem themselves from the 45-3. Then I started doing more film and realizing the Patriots are just smarter than everybody else. And then looking at how they handle it. Yeah, I think it does fester in a good way. I think they have the ability to take all this stuff and keep it inside and use it to their advantage come game time.
“I don’t see how this strategy works against the Patriots that the Jets are using,” he said of the bombardment of talk. “I can see it working against somebody else. I just don’t see it working against the Patriots. I think Tom already with a razor sharp focus finds even another level to his focus and preparation.”
Dilfer said he thinks Brady will be trying to beat Cromartie, but not because of the things he had to say this week.
“I saw Brady’s comments about how Revis is a great player and Cromartie is a good player. That spoke volumes to me. If you’ve tracked how Tom talks about players he hardly ever compares people. What he was saying there is he’s giving a lot of respect to Darrelle Revis and kind of a side note to that was, don’t try to put Cromartie in the same place as Revis.
“That’s how I felt when he was signed,” Dilfer said of Cromartie. “He’s a good player. He does certain things. He’s so long and so athletic and he has ball skills that he does at times create a problem as a matchup. But he’s somebody you feel very confident throwing the ball at in certain route concepts. You saw the Colts take advantage of him on certain inside releases. He’s a guy that can absolutely be torched on certain route concepts. And that’s what the Patriots do. With all their formations they get you matched up where they’re doing your strength against their weakness. And I have a feeling after studying their last two matchups that the Patriots, that’s a go-to spot for them.
“When they have to get something going in the passing game I think that’s a place they look for,” Dilfer said, still talking about Cromartie. “I’ve talked to other quarterbacks who’ve played against the Jets this year and they feel the same way, that if you have a must throw and it’s an in-breaking route you want to get matched up on Cromartie. He’s a good player, not a great player, and he’s definitely vulnerable to some stuff and I’m thinking that’s what the Patriots feel.”
As for Cromartie’s expletive description of Brady, Dilfer couldn’t understand the motive.
“Why does he have to say that? One of the reasons the coach is saying these things is so the players don’t have to. Do you really want to pick a fight with Tom Brady? I just think about people you want to pick a fight with and people you don’t. Personally I wouldn’t pick a fight with arguably one of the greatest players who’s ever played the game. But that’s just me.”