Brady not playing Jets games until Sunday


Brady not playing Jets games until Sunday

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO Tom Brady is not in the mood this week.

The hype, the politics, and the mind games that Jets week comes packaged in: Brady's not interested. When he stepped to the podium Wednesday the force field was immediately activated.

Right out of the gate, he was asked about New England's 2010 playoff loss to Rex Ryan's crew. Does an early postseason exit -- at home, no less -- serve as extra motivation for this October match up?

"That was a long time ago, so that game doesn't have much bearing on this week," he said evenly. "We're a different team."

And that was the end of that.

According to the Patriots quarterback, this is a brand new chapter in a very old book. Anything beyond the Xs and Os is a distraction. It's superfluous -- not even amusing. Brady is settling in for a huge divisional game, one that's impossible to predict based on the past. The Jets' current 2-2 record, one that features back-to-back losses to the Bills and Ravens, means nothing to the Patriots.

"They're a tough team, very physical," Brady said. "They lead the league in a bunch of defensive categories. They're very challenging to play. They have been since -- it's always the Jets -- since I got here 10 years, 12 years ago. It's a fun game to be a part of. I hope we go out there and play better than the last time we played them."

New England lost last season's playoff bout with the Jets, 28-21. It gave Ryan's team the series edge for the year after a regular season split. And there was some sense in the result; New York was the overall better team last season.

But a few things have changed. The Jets are ranked No. 25 in total offense with 308.0 yards per game compared to New England's gaudy 507.5. Quarterback Mark Sanchez's 55.1 completion percentage (81-for-147) is well below the fold (Brady is 109-for-163, 66.9 percent). The Patriots also have a 13 to 6 touchdown advantage.

Brady: Don't care. Don't care. Don't care.

"They were good last year, they're good this year, they were good two years ago," he said. "I think as long as Rex is coaching that team, they're going to have a good defense. They've got a lot of good defensive players: David Harris and Bart Scott, good front, corners who can cover, safeties . . . it's a good team."

Even after they lost in Baltimore last week, 34-17? Yup.

"They still played pretty well defensively," Brady said. "I don't think Flacco threw for 50 percent. The Ravens had a bunch of scores -- defensive scores -- but that doesn't really affect me any. We're preparing for a very good defense; tough, physical style that's good in pass coverage. They lead the league in first down defense. They lead the league in third down defense. They're one of the best we play all year."

Flacco actually threw for 32 percent on 10-for-31 passing. It was ugly. As Brady mentioned, the Ravens scored, but got touchdowns on two fumble returns and a pick. The Jets defense isn't getting lucky on interceptions with a 325-pound tackle throwing up his hands at the right time, they're getting the plays from the guys expected to make them: linebackers Josh Mauga and David Harris each have one, safety Eric Smith has one, shutdown cornerback Darelle Revis has one, and his partner in crime, Antonio Cromartie, has two.

And Cromartie can't wait to visit New England.

He's expressed a vehement dislike for Brady in the past and set his sights on the Patriots QB while still in Baltimore. Brady is wary of the threat because he respects the talent.

"Cromartie's very good. Excellent player," Brady said. "They have two very good corners. They've got a bunch of good corners, actually. The two that are out there regularly on defense are very good -- both fast, both physical. They play well at the line of scrimmage. They're very disruptive. They lead the league in pass defense."

What Brady doesn't respect is the melodrama. As soon as the questions turned to the off-field games, to Cromartie's insults and yammering, he clammed up.

"I don't care what he says about me. I really don't."

The rest of the presser was lost. Even questions about game planning couldn't bring Brady out of his mood.

On adjusting to Revis? "We kind of just call our plays and wherever he lines up, he lines up on them. If a guy gets open, he gets the ball as we've shown, and if he doesn't, somebody else gets the ball.

On how much he's using receiver Wes Welker? "You throw to the open guy. If he's open, he'll get it. If he's not, someone else will get it. He's done a good job of getting open."

A third question about Cromartie's criticisms was the death blow.

"I really don't care what he says," Brady said. He gave a curt thanks and walked out.

To think the lack of engagement indicates a lack of bloodlust for the rivalry is all wrong. It's because this week is tremendously important to Tom Brady and the Patriots that they've put blinders on.The focus is ahead, it's on the future. And it's on the field.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015


Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015

Roger Goodell's salary has reportedly fallen in recent years, but he's still paid handsomely for his work as NFL commissioner.

According to the Associated Press, Goodell earned just over $31 million for 2015. That's a seven percent decrease from the $34 million he received for 2014. 

The NFL's last tax return served as an indicator of Goodell's 2015 salary. The league's tax returns no longer have to be made public since it has changed its status from exempt to taxable, per the AP.

The next-highest paid executive at the NFL offices on Park Avenue? General counsel Jeff Pash, one of the most prominent players in the Deflategate sage, who earned $6.5 million in 2015, down from $7.5 million in 2014. 

Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy


Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy

The NFL announced this week that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been suspended without pay for Week 1 of the 2016 regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. 

Richardson will miss his team's season-opener against the Bengals and will be eligible to return to the Jets active roster on Sep. 12. The Jets and the Patriots meet for the first of their two division games on Nov. 27. 

Richardson responded to the news of suspension on Thursday. 

In July of 2015, Richardson led police on a high-speed chase -- hitting speeds as high as 143 miles per hour -- in suburban St. Louis. Police reported a strong odor of marijuana in the car and inside found a loaded, semiautomatic handgun that was possessed legally. Richardson had a 12-year-old relative riding with him in his Bentley at the time of the incident.

In January, Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Though he avoided jail time, he was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. 

Richardson has been one of the league's best defensive linemen since entering the league as a first-rounder in 2013. He served a four-game suspension to start last season after violating the league's substance abuse policy.

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'


PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

He may have been left off of the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but Jamie Collins isn't flying under the radar at Pro Football Focus.

On PFF's list of the top 10 defensive players in the AFC, the Patriots linebacker came in at No. 8 and was given the description as the top linebacker in the conference.

Collins' versatility within the confines of the Patriots defense is what makes him so valuable, PFF's John Kosko explains: 

"He doesn’t dominate in any one role like Luke Kuechly does in pass coverage and run defense, but he is very good at all facets of the game. Collins has the athleticism to cover TEs and HBs effectively, the explosiveness to rush the passer, and the size and strength to defend the run. 

"The former Southern Mississippi linebacker is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and allows Bill Belichick to employ a defense that confuses opposing quarterbacks. With the only knock against Collins being his 34 missed tackles the past two seasons, the Patriot is the best linebacker in the AFC."

Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in football last year, per PFF's numbers. He ranked behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Indianapolis' Jerrell Freeman and Seattle's KJ Wright. 

Fellow Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower earned the 10th-highest grade for linebackers last season, according to PFF -- a grade that likely would have been higher had his snap-count (602 in 2015) approached that of Collins (792).

While Collins is a rare physical talent, the argument could be made that it's Hightower who is the more important player to the Patriots defense given his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He also has myriad responsibilities as the extension of the team's coaching staff in the defensive huddle. 

In order to slow down opposing passing games, many Patriots defensive packages employ either five or six defensive backs and just two linebackers. Lucky for them, they have two of the best in the conference.

Both Collins and Hightower are entering contract years this year, and finding a way to keep them in-house figures to be near the top of the list of priorities for the Patriots front office.