Rex Ryan: We'll mix our coverages
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan wasn't about to reveal his game plan for Monday night's matchup against the New England Patriots, but he did acknowledge one inside tip: Expect the Jets to mix their defensive strategy on a play-to-play-basis.
Ryan said he believes that's the only way to play against quarterback Tom Brady.
We're going to pressure, mix our coverages, change our coverages, change our blitzes... That's how you play Brady. You can't just sit back and let him know what you are in.” -- Jets coach Rex Ryan
"Brady is a guy that if you just run standard coverages, he'll kill you. He can write up what he wants," Ryan said on a conference call with New England reporters on Thursday morning.
Ryan pointed to the Patriots' 31-20 win over the Jaguars in the playoffs after the 2007 season. Brady was 26 of 28 for 262 yards and three touchdowns that day as the Jaguars hardly pressured.
"That was the most embarrassing thing I think I've ever seen," Ryan said. "We're not going to let him sit back there and go through pass [skeleton type work with no rush]. We're going to pressure, mix our coverages, change our coverages, change our blitzes -- all-out blitz, sometimes simulated pressure, sometimes three-man rush, sometimes four-man rush, multiple coverages. That's how you play Brady. You can't just sit back and let him know what you are in."
Ryan's defense intercepted Brady twice in the Patriots' Week 2 loss at the Meadowlands and forced a third Brady turnover on a strip sack. For his part, Brady said he's expecting plenty of pressure on Monday night.
"They've always [brought a lot of pressure]. I don't think that's anything we don't expect," Brady said. "When you look at blitz percentages, they blitz about half the time. On third down they blitz about thee quarters of the time. They're blitzing a lot, and that's really the trademark of the defense, to try and find different ways to get after the quarterback. That runs in the family. Talking to coach [Bill] Belichick, [Ryan's] dad [former NFL coach Buddy Ryan] was the same way. If you could hit the quarterback, who cares about the coverage?
"But with this team they cover you well too. They hit the quarterback and they cover. That's what makes them so unique."
Brady, who returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Tuesday's session with a foot injury, stressed it was that unique mix of pass rushing schemes and tight coverage from a pair of elite cornerbacks that makes the Jets so tough to pass on.
[Rex Ryan] has a pretty extensive playbook. He has a lot of different calls, all of them are based around rushes or getting to the quarterback.” -- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
"[Rex Ryan] has a pretty extensive playbook. He has a lot of different calls, all of them are based around rushes or getting to the quarterback," Brady said. "I think it allows him a lot of flexibility when he has the type of cover players that he has because one-on-one matchup is fine when you have Darrelle Revis on anybody and [Antonio] Cromartie on anybody, then with those other nine guys, five can rush, and who knows what five they're going to be. Sometimes it's six guys that are rushing. They change it up pretty good."
In previous matchups, Revis had been tasked with shutting down Patriots receiver Randy Moss, but with Moss gone it is unclear how the Jets will use their star cornerback. Ryan wasn't giving anything away Thursday.
"Anybody we put him out there on," Ryan responded when asked who Revis would cover. "We'll see. I have a feeling he is going to get an opportunity to cover a lot of different people."
No matter which player Revis is covering, Brady acknowledged that seeing him on a receiver has an impact on his decision-making in the pocket.
"I don't think you look going into a game thinking, 'Man, I can't wait to start throwing the football at this guy,' " Brady said. "There are definitely passes that have been completed on him this year. I've watched a lot of games where guys are getting open, but he makes just as many of those. You really don't want to come out of a game thinking, 'Yeah, we went after him 18 times and we had nine completions.'"
Brady also acknowledged the gravity of the game, the winner of which will have the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the loser likely looking at a first-round playoff game on the road. Still, he cautioned against blowing it up too large.
"It's a regular-season game against a division opponent that's 9-2, and I think we treat it just like that. This is not the Super Bowl," Brady said. "There are games after this game that are very important as well. This game, for what we are trying to accomplish, win our division -- always the first goal of this team -- is a big game. We can't expect to win the division and lose to the same team twice. We've got to really go out and execute at a much higher level than we did the first time we played them. They don't leave you much room for error."
As for the coaching matchup, Belichick and Ryan traded accolades Thursday.
"There are very few coaches that I steal from but Bill Belichick is one of them," Ryan said. "He's so creative, what he does coverage-wise, how he looks at things, puts traps out there. The guy is an amazing coach, the best coach in football. It's not even close."
Ryan said he pops in the Patriots' tape each week to study what Belichick does with the defense. He said he does the same with the Steelers and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
When informed later about Ryan's comments, Belichick took it as a compliment and said he keeps a close eye on Ryan as well.
"That's flattering," Belichick said. "I'd say the same thing about the Jets and Rex. When he was at Baltimore and the Jets, you always watch their tape and see how he defends teams that you're going to play or kind of what they're doing and try to get some ideas. If you can figure it out -- which you usually can -- what they're trying to do, what their thinking is [and] what problems they're creating for the offense, whether that's exactly the same thing that you can do, maybe you can take an element or that part of the defense or that way they attack the offense and try and utilize it some way in what you're doing.
"I think he's really creative. He's got a lot of good ideas. He definitely pressures the offense and being on the other side of the ball, playing against him, offensively, with our team, there's a lot of things to get ready for. He creates a lot of problems and they have a lot of good players, too. It's a good combination there. He's an excellent coach. There's no question about that; he does an excellent job."
While he still has a ways to go to match Ryan in the humor department during his press briefings, Belichick generated a few smiles Thursday when he answered a question about what the coaches were up to Wednesday (an off day for the players) with a tongue-in-cheek remark.
"Oh, we played golf -- golf, bowling, a little badminton tournament, ate some watermelon, played cards," Belichick said, before turning semi-serious.
"[Wednesday was] totally about the Jets, other than the pony rides and canoeing."
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