FOXBOROUGH — On Tuesday, Patriots wide receiver and special teams captain Matthew Slater compared playing the Jets to playing USC, the top rival of his alma mater, UCLA.
Tom Brady, asked if playing the Jets resembled Ohio State vs. his alma mater Michigan, expanded on why Jets week is special.
“It’s a great rivalry, there’s no question,” Brady said. “We’ve had so many meaningful games against these guys. It’s like we do the scouting report and they go through the names on the list and you’re like, ‘I know every single one of these guys on the list. Why are we talking about David Harris and [Antonio] Cromartie?’ They’ve got a few new faces in there, but this defense presents some great challenges for our offense and ones we’ve faced since Rex Ryan has been the head coach of that team.
“It’s a great rivalry and it’s a fun game for us players,” Brady continued. “It always has meaning behind it. It’s never been a meaningless game, so this one will be no different than that.”
The Patriots face a Jets team coached by Ryan in the regular season for the seventh time since 2010. The Patriots lead, 4-2. The Patriots are 0-1 against Ryan’s Jets in the playoffs, losing Jan. 16, 2011, 28-21. But the Jets have dramatically changed, even from a year ago when the Patriots swept season series 2-0. Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis was lost for the season, giving the vaunted New York defense an entirely different feel.
“He’s a great player – one of the best I’ve ever gone against,” Brady said of Revis. “At the same time, I think they’ve moved on from that situation and played really well last week against Indianapolis without him. They still have a very good defense. It’s built around their team and their scheme and they have very good players: big, powerful guys that run well, very instinctive. They have a lot of veteran players at safety and linebacker. [Antonio] Cromartie is a heck of a player in his own right and he’s had a great season, so he’s really assumed the role of matching to the opponent’s No. 1 receiver – or perceived No. 1 receiver. They seem like they’re still doing what they’ve always done and playing very well.”