Defending AFC champion New England might be perceived as one of the NFL’s elite teams with Tom Brady at quarterback, but Jets coach Rex Ryan promised his team will head to Foxboro on Sunday planning to bloody the Patriots’ noses.
Although Ryan has tempered his boasting this season, the one thing he never will do is give an inch to the Pats. “I want them to know and they know that I think we’re going to beat them,” Ryan said at his Monday press conference. “I don’t buy into all that other stuff. I recognize they’re a great football team and Belichick’s a great coach. I’ve never once said that he wasn’t.
“We’re not going to back down or concede anything. They’re going to get our best shot. We know we’re going to get theirs. So, it doesn’t matter who says what, but we are going to be ourselves. We’re coming up there to take our swing, and we’ll see if we land that punch to win the game.”
Considering the Patriots’ upset loss at Seattle that left them with a 3-3 record the same as everyone else in the AFC East, you might even say the Jets have more than a puncher’s chance. But when asked if the Patriots seem more vulnerable, Ryan said they might have lost more than their usual share, but he added, “We need to worry about ourselves more than anybody else.”
Ryan called the fact that every team is the AFC East is 3-3 a good news, bad news situation. “We’re tied for first in our division. That’s great,” Ryan said. Shifting moods, he added, “We’re also tied for last. It’s a little depressing. It’s going to be a slugfest all the way. It’s a 10-game season now, so, whoever comes out of it the best will win our division. We’re just going to keep slugging.”
If you picked up on all the boxing analogies from Ryan, then you understand what his approach is, not only against New England, but in trying to keep the Jets on track for a successful season. After their 34-0 loss to San Francisco, Ryan went back to fundamentals with his team, emphasizing the need to run the ball and to stop the run and, most of all, the need to be more physical.
They improved in a 23-17 loss to Houston and then dominated the Colts, 35-9, on Sunday. The Colts had a limited running game without injured starter Donald Brown, and Ryan recognized their offensive line wasn’t as athletic as the Jets’ defensive line. So, he ordered his defensive front to attack the line of scrimmage, and the result was holding the Colts to 41 yards rushing and sacking quarterback Andrew Luck four times.
Ryan also recognizes the Patriots have improved their running game. The only way to stop them and every other team that can run the ball is to change the attitude of his defense to be more combative. “The way we attacked the line of scrimmage was more like we expect,” Ryan said of the Colts game. “I was proud to see our guys step up to the plate and do that. That’s the only area where we can improve regardless of who the opponent is.”
Hence the boxing analogies. If they want to beat the Patriots, the Jets darn sure better come out swinging.