Ryan not buying talk of Patriots offensive struggles

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Ryan not buying talk of Patriots offensive struggles

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.

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

FOXBORO -  A verrrrrryyyy long time ago, the Patriots targeted September. There were t-shirts and everything printed back in 2002 as the Patriots came off of their first Super Bowl title.

The names of that season’s first four opponents – Steelers, Jets, Chiefs and Chargers – were all listed on a bullseye.

How’d that work out? Well, they hit the bullseye for most of September, winning the first three. Then they lost four in a row and the notion of “targeting” a segment of the schedule around these parts went the way of the Dodo bird.

Which may be why, as truly remarkable as this September’s been, Bill Belichick isn’t taking any bows after three damn wins.

“We’re just really focused on Buffalo,” Belichick told me Friday morning when I asked about whether winning the first three in the face of some adversity was a point of pride. “I don’t really care about last week. I don’t really care about two weeks ago. I don’t really care about last year. I don’t really care about four years ago. I don’t really care. I think we’re just trying to get ready and compete against Buffalo. That’s our challenge this week.

“The rest of it – it’s in the books. It is what it is,” he said. “So write whatever you want to write about it. It’s good, it’s bad, I mean I don’t really care. It’s done. We’ve got to do a good job of what we have here with Buffalo. We can’t live in the past. And I respect where you’re coming from, I really do. It’s not like I’m trying to be dismissive of it, but I really don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing that happened last year, last week, last month really has anything to do with this week.”

Things change after Sunday. The best player the franchise has ever had rejoins a team that – in spite of the adversity – flourished without him. Even though the competition wasn’t what one would call “stiff” compared to challenges Brady faced as recently as last January, it’s still remarkable.

Asked about Brady’s looming return, wide receiver Julian Edelman also redirected.

“We got a game before that,” he pointed out. “When he comes back we'll obviously be happy but we got a job ahead of us with the Buffalo Bills.” 

Asked if there’s some pride taken in the beginning, Edelman replied, “It’s just having pride in your job in general. Really just focusing every week and trying to improve. I say it every week on these cameras, if you try to get better and you get better every week, you're gonna do these things. 

“It tells you that you have a mentally tough team that goes out there and works hard and prepares hard and does the extra things,” Edelman added. “I've been around here a little while and that's just the mentality we've always had and continue to have. We have a tough one against the Bills and we'll see how it tests out against these guys.”

 

 

Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

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Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

The inury report for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

OUT
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

QUESTIONABLE
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)