Ryan: We're back to our style of football

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Ryan: We're back to our style of football

FOXBORO -- This is not your Week 4 Jets team.

The first time New York met the Patriots in 2011, Rex Ryan's club was 1-2 and struggling with an identity crisis. A season-opening 32-3 win over the Jaguars proved the obvious; losing 34-24 to Oakland in Week 2 proved they could be bullied by a weaker team; they followed that with a 34-17 loss to the Ravens -- a game that included three Baltimore defensive touchdowns -- which proved Mark Sanchez is still unreliable.

The Patriots feasted on these weaknesses. Tom Brady completed 24 of 33 passes for 321 yards in New England's 30-21 win. Sanchez threw for just 166 yards against the league's worst defense.

Things have since changed.

This is the ever-fickle NFL. In the last three weeks the Patriots lost two back-to-back games off the bye. New York heated up a three-game winning streak, including last Sunday's 27-11 triumph in Buffalo.

Rex Ryan says this is what his team does. Remember 2009? When the Jets falter, they regroup and rally against the world. "Everybody loves Cinderella stories," linebacker Bart Scott said last week about the Bills. "We've always been portrayed as the bad guys, but we relish in that role."

It gets them back to winning.

"I just think we got back to playing our style of football," Ryan said Wednesday. "We've been a team that plays good solid defense, solid special teams, and the ability to run the football. I think that's who we've been and that's who we are. I think we got back to those roots a little bit.

"Buffalo's a good football team, there's no doubt about it, but we had a lot of confidence going into the game. Our defense is a little different than other people's defense, but we feel good about it. We're multiple in what we do defensively. Sometimes with the personnel we can give you problems. That's how we approach the game and we executed our plan pretty good."

The odds favor New York to continue that trend.

According to Bodog.com, the Jets are a 1-point favorite in the tilt against New England. It's not much, but the number does reflect the way each team has played lately. Does the switch in position mean anything to Ryan? Not in the least.

"It's not going to change how we approach the game: we're trying to win," he scoffed. "If we're the favorite or an underdogs by 50 points it makes no difference in the game. That's who we are. I'm not betting on the game so I really don't care what the spread is."

It's still, after all, too early to bet the house on Sanchez. The quarterback has improved but remains inconsistent. At least when he has bad games the lows aren't as low -- that range has narrowed some. Ryan says he likes what he's seen out of Sanchez this season while maintaining that some things need to be cleaned up.

That's all part of the Jets 'style', too.

"He's made a couple mistakes, but a lot of people make mistakes," Ryan said. "I like the way he bounces back. We had a great drive 10-minutes, 87 yards, like, the second longest drive in the NFL this year, and then we turned the ball over in the end zone. We really have to do a great job protecting the football, especially against New England. You can't turn the ball over and expect to beat New England. You still have to be aggressive, but I think there's a fine line."

Sanchez's decision-making will need to be even better than it has been lately. Yes, even against the NFL's worst defense. Ryan has enough bad memories of Week 4 to feel overconfident, no matter how much the Jets have overcome since then.

"I think the big thing is we'd like to not have seven three-and-outs, I think would probably help us a little bit," Ryan said. "We did, in that game, have seven three-and-outs so obviously we're not going to beat anybody if you do that. I think if we're able to move the ball consistently we'll be able to run it more and throw it more. That certainly will be our plan."

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”