By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com 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.