Jets' Ryan selling disrespect to his team

Coach says Patriots weren't sincere about New York being great

December 05, 2010|By Sam Farmer, Tribune Newspapers

The forecast for tonight's AFC showdown between the New York Jets and New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium calls for a 30 percent chance of precipitation, and it certainly will be cold enough for flurries.

Regardless, Jets Coach Rex Ryan said he believes his team has already been buried beneath a full-fledged snow job.

Ryan said he thinks the Patriots weren't overflowing with sincerity last week when they repeatedly referred to the Jets as a "great team." It sounded respectful enough, but the way Ryan sees it, New England Coach Bill Belichick and his players were taking a tongue-in-cheek swipe at the Jets, who share an NFL-best 9-2 record with them.

"I know they say we are a great team, and I see the sarcasm," Ryan told reporters. "Well, they are going to find out if we are a great team or not, I can tell you that much."

Ryan, whose Jets posted a 28-14 victory over the Patriots in Week 2, said he sensed sarcasm because of the unwavering message coming from the Patriots locker room, a message devoid of spontaneity.

"That, 'Well, we'll just say this and this,'" he said. "We're coming. We'll show up and see what happens."

What Ryan is selling to his players as a sign of disrespect is more likely a coach looking for any sort of motivational upper hand with the inside track on AFC homefield advantage at stake.

Something's got to give. The Patriots have won 25 consecutive regular-season home games with quarterback Tom Brady starting. The Jets are 5-0 on the road this season and overall have won eight in a row away from home.

Brady is tied with Brett Favre for the NFL record for consecutive home victories; Favre won his with Green Bay from 1995-98. The last time the Patriots lost a regular-season game at Gillette Stadium with Brady starting was Nov. 12, 2006 – against the Jets.

This season, Brady is a leading candidate for most valuable player, and he's coming off a four-touchdown game at Detroit in which he recorded the second "perfect" passer rating (158.3) of his career.

The Jets sustained a big setback Friday when they lost safety Jim Leonhard to a broken leg in practice. He underwent surgery that night and is done for the season.

Not only was Leonhard a traffic cop in the secondary and the team's second-leading tackler, but was also the NFL's sixth-ranked punt returner. He will be difficult to replace.

"Obviously that's a huge blow to us," Ryan said. "He's a huge part of what we do. In this sport, it's a 100 percent injury rate, at some point you're going to get hurt. Just like any player, you feel terrible for that individual."

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