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."

Belichick seemed to enjoy Faulk's draft-day Deflategate protest

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Belichick seemed to enjoy Faulk's draft-day Deflategate protest

FOXBORO -- When Kevin Faulk's name pops up in a Bill Belichick press conference, it's no surprise that a smile crosses the Patriots coach's face and a complimentary comment crosses his lips. Faulk helped Belichick and the Patriots win three Super Bowls and he's a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame this year. 

When Faulk's name pops up in a Belichick press conference one night after protesting Deflategate on a national stage during the second day of the NFL draft? You can expect much of the same. 

"Love Kevin," Belichick said when asked about Faulk wearing a Tom Brady replica No. 12 jersey underneath his suit jacket while announcing New England's second pick of the draft on Friday night. "He always makes good decisions. Looked sharp out there."

As part of an NFL initiative that had former players announce picks for their teams this weekend, Faulk was asked to announce the No. 78 overall selection, which was made on North Carolina State offensive lineman Joe Thuney.

"With the 78th pick in the 2016 NFL draft," Faulk said proudly, "the New England Patriots and Tom Brady select . . . Joe Thuney."

Brady is facing a four-game suspension, which was reinstated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week. He and his lawyers have a little over a week to petition the Second Circuit for a rehearing. 

When Belichick was asked about the latest Deflategate news on Saturday, he declined to comment, opting to focus on the draft instead. 

"I’ll talk about the draft," he said. "You good on that?"

The Patriots draft was of course affected by the Deflategate punishment issued by the league. They were the only team to begin the draft without a first-round pick, but Belichick said that the absence of that choice didn't neccessarily alter the team's philosophy going into the weekend. 

"No. You control what you can control," he said. "What we had, we tried to do the best we could. That’s how we approach it, whether it is picking guys or moving positions or trading into next year, whatever it was, we just tried to make the most of it. We traded up, we traded down, we [acquired a fourth-rounder in 2017]. Not saying it was great or anything, we just tried to do the best we could."

Patriots select Arizona State WR Lucien in seventh round

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Patriots select Arizona State WR Lucien in seventh round

The Patriots haven't had a ton of success drafting wide receivers in recent years, but one of their few home runs came in the seventh round back in 2009. 

No one will expect Devin Lucien to produce at the same level as Julian Edelman, but if he can provide the Patriots with some measure of depth after being selected with the No. 225 pick overall on Saturday -- the team's final pick of the draft -- it would be considered good value. 

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder transferred from UCLA to Arizona State for his final collegiate season when he recorded 66 catches for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns. In his last three games, he racked up 534 yards and five scores, firmly establishing himself as a draftable prospect. 

Pro Football Focus game Lucien a third-round grade going into the draft and said he "may have the best hands" in the class. According to PFF, he dropped just five passes in the last two seasons. 

Though he has good size and he tested well at his pro day (4.42-second 40-yard dash), he's considered to have underwhelming speed. Still, given his collegiate numbers and his dependable 10-inch mitts, he was certainly worth a flier late on Day 3. 

Lucien joins Malcolm Mitchell of Georgia (fourth-round) as the two receiver prospects selected by the Patriots in this year's draft class. The pair will compete for time with veterans Juilan Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Keshawn Martin, Nate Washington and second-year wideout Chris Harper. 

Patriots add pair with special-teams relevance in late rounds

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Patriots add pair with special-teams relevance in late rounds

The Patriots added a good-sized safety from Jimmy Garoppolo’s alma mater in the seventh round, Kamu Grunier-Hill. The 6-1, 215-pounder from Eastern Illinois selected with the 208th pick will have his first relevance as a special teamer then will try to find a spot in the regular defense.

With his size, he figures to be a who can play some box-safety when the Patriots go to six DB sets. He’ll do well to keep an eye on Patrick Chung because Chung – a much smaller player – is very skilled playing at the linebacker level. Grunier-Hill has great measurable – a 4.45 40 and 38.5 inch vertical.

The Patriots are deep at safety with Devin McCourty, Chung, Jordan Richards and Duron Harmon. Grunier-Hill wasn’t a highly-analyzed prospect in the process leading up to the draft so the Patriots’ interest level in him may have been higher than most. It’s very likely he finds his way to the team’s practice squad.

Right after taking Grunier-Hill, the Patriots got a similar-sized player named Elandon Roberts at 214. The 6-foot, 235-pounder comes in as a linebacker out of the University of Houston. He’s not the explosive athlete that Grunier-Hill is but he’s a hugely productive player who had 88 solo tackles for the Cougars last season. Regarded as a great leader, Roberts is another guy who’s going to have to make hay as a special teams guy first.