FOXBORO -- Don't talk to Rex Ryan about Tom Brady having a bad day.
Don't mention Brady's two interceptions against the Giants and his 10 on the season. Don't ask if uncharacteristic poor decision-making last week is a sign of future trouble for the Patriots. Same goes for Brady's numbers: 28-for-49 passing, two sacks and 5-for-15 on third down.
Forget about selling Patriots' offensive woes because the Jets coach isn't buying.
"I think it's funny, because we're saying that New England's struggling," Ryan said via conference call. "I think they had 450 yards against us, 450 against the Giants or something like that it was 448. It's not that this team is struggling.
"This is one of the premier offenses in the league. I don't know how good Green Bay is, I haven't played them this year, but obviously New England is about as good as it gets that we face."
The fact Brady has more than doubled last year's interception total isn't impressive to Ryan. He says it only points to how tremendous the quarterback's season was last year; the pass attempts without a pick record, 358, can't be replicated.
"I think you could do a lot worse than having Tom Brady as your quarterback," Ryan said. He's clearly the best quarterback in the league now that Peyton's not playing."
Hang on -- is that a backhanded compliment? Maybe in the sense of competition. Ryan is often effusively complimentary of the Patriots while simultaneously expressing the desire to crush them. But the praise he heaps on Bill Belichick and New England is sincere. Especially with a Week 4 loss at Gillette not far in the past. The Jets vaunted defense let up 30 points in that game.
"With Brady you can't run traditional coverages -- you've got to get to him," Ryan said. "You can't just let him sit back and throw or he'll absolutely carve you up. That's obviously a priority for any team that's going up against the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, so that's no great shock. You definitely want to make him uncomfortable back there. If it's a 7-on-7 or it turns into what we call "pass-(drilling)" then we've got no chance to beat them."
The plan will have to include limiting receiver Wes Welker. If possible. Ryan was over the moon about Welker's production in 2011, saying the player presents few flaws or attack points. And there are numbers to back up the coach.
Welker tied an NFL record for three games with eight catches, 150 yards and a touchdown. He also set a franchise record for receiving yards on September 25 in Buffalo (217) and currently leads the NFl in total receiving yards (960). Ryan views Welker and Brady as two peas in an offensively devastating pod.
"If we think there's vulnerability in a player then we'll go out it. But if you look at . . . Wes Welker's caught 100 balls I think already. He's the hardest guy to get a fumble from.
"The guy . . . he's phenomenal. He's breaking all kinds of records; he stays on this pace he'll break almost every record."
But for all the gushing, Ryan must see a weakness in Welker somewhere, right?
The receiver looked largely untouchable until Week 6 when Dallas held him to just 45 yards. He was basically a non-factor until Brady's final drive of the game. The following week in New England's 25-17 loss to Pittsburgh Welker had 39 yards on six catches. Time of possession -- barely 20 minutes -- was a factor, but the two had more incomplete connections than first-down gains. Welker's 136 receiving yards in the 24-20 loss to the Giants don't show Antrel Rolle's fantastic coverage of Welker before Rolle suffered an injury.
Ryan says he doesn't doesn't care. He doesn't see teams having much success with Number 83.
"I don't know about that. Maybe we need to trade for Antrel Rolle," he joked. "Welker, I think, he can beat anybody in the league. He's one of the best receivers in the game. Now, I'll take my corner on him, Darelle Revis, but I think he's clearly the best in the league. I think Welker, if he's not the best receiver in the league, he's certainly in the top two or three."
That final push against the Cowboys was the go-ahead drive. Brady went no-huddle, shotgun, Welker. The last of his three catches in those crucial two minutes was a six-yard reception over the middle to put New England on the Dallas 8. Part of what makes him so dangerous is this ability to be there for Brady in clutch spots. New York probably wants to take away that one, 73-yard bomb he caught in Week 4 to say he only had four receptions for 51. Thing is, you can't take it away. Three plays later Deion Branch caught a two-yard touchdown pass -- Welker's catch hurt. It mattered.
That's why Rex Ryan has so much respect for Brady and for Welker. It is the exception, less the rule, that those two are silenced.