Needing a blocked field goal from Chris Jones late in their last meeting, Bill Belichick notes the Patriots will need to be better than they have been, (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Needing a blocked field goal from Chris Jones late in their last meeting, Bill Belichick notes the Patriots will need to be better than they have been Sunday against the Jets. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Even though the Jets are 3-11, and losers of three of their last four games with their coach likely to be fired, don’t tell that to Bill Belichick, as he notes they have been in a number of close games and playing competitively.

“It seems like quite a while since we played the Jets,” said Belichick. “The Jets are playing well. They’€™re a very competitive football team. They’€™re in every game. They’€™ve been in a lot of tight games, it seems like every game comes down to the last possession, kind of like it did with us, like a lot of our games with them have in the last, four of the last five times we’€™ve played them.”

Three of the last four games the Jets have played have been decided by seven points or less, and when it comes to games against the Patriots, the last three games have been decided by three points or less, including Oct. 16’s game in New England where the Patriots snuck past the Jets, 27-25 on Thursday night football.

Even further, four of the last five Patriots-Jets games have been decided by three points or less, with two of those games going to overtime.

With the last meeting between the two teams occurring almost two months ago, Belichick notes a lot has changed between the two teams. It’s worth noting the game was on a Thursday night and the Patriots were coming off losing running back Stevan Ridley and linebacker Jerod Mayo for the season just three days prior against the Bills.

“We’€™ll see how it goes against the Jets,” Belichick said. “I don’€™t know. We played other teams and different matchups and all that. The Jets are pretty healthy. They had one change on their offensive line, but the rest of those guys have all started 14 games. They’€™ve had pretty good consistency at tight end. The running backs are very good. The quarterback is a good runner. So we’€™ll see whether we can improve against the Jets in the running game, that’€™s what we need to do.”

Even with the Jets’ record coming in, Belichick knows the importance of the final two regular-season games with the Patriots controlling their own destiny, as if they win out they would be the AFC’s No. 1 seed. With how close the Jets generally keep games against New England, and it likely being Rex Ryan‘s last home game and last game coaching against the Patriots as Jets head coach, Belichick knows the team will need to play better that it has in past meetings.

“This will be a big week for us,” said Belichick. “I think we need to play better than we did the last time we played them. I just don’€™t think that will be good enough. [It] barely was good enough last time, I don’€™t think it will be good enough this time.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

With the Patriots in the chase for the No. 1 seed in the AFC — they can clinch the top seed if they beat the Jets and the Bengals beat the Broncos in Cincinnati this week — here’s a look at how they’ve fared when it comes to playoff seeding in the Bill Belichick era, and what’s happened that postseason.

2000: No playoffs.
2001: No. 2 seed, win Super Bowl XXXVI.
2002: No playoffs.
2003: No. 1 seed, win Super Bowl XXXVIII.
2004: No. 2 seed, win Super Bowl XXXIX.
2005: No. 4 seed, lose divisional playoff in Denver.
2006: No. 4 seed, lost AFC title game in Indy.
2007: No. 1 seed, lose Super Bowl XLII.
2008: No playoffs.
2009: No. 3 seed, lose wild card game at home against Baltimore.
2010: No. 1 seed, lose divisional playoff at home against New York.
2011: No. 1 seed, lose Super Bowl XLIV.
2012: No. 2 seed, lose AFC title game at home against Baltimore.
2013: No. 2 seed, lose AFC title game in Denver.

Overall, the Patriots have had the No. 1 seed on four occasions — they’ve won the Super Bowl once, lost a divisional playoff and come up just short in two Super Bowls. They’ve also had the No. 2 seed four times, and have won two Super Bowls (2001, 2004) and lost two AFC title games (2012, 2013).

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

ESPN NFL analyst Damien Woody joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Patriots’ upcoming game with the rival Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Damien Woody

Damien Woody

ESPN NFL analyst Damien Woody joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Patriots’ upcoming game with the rival Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With the Jets sitting in the basement of the AFC East and near the bottom of the entire NFL standings, some expect Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium to be a blowout. Woody, though, said New York will come to play.

“They’re going to bust their butts for Rex [Ryan],” Woody said of the Jets. “Just my time playing under Rex Ryan, the one great quality that Rex has is that he knows how to rally the troops. He just has an uncanny ability to know the pulse of the team and guys rally around that. Rex makes himself feel like he’s just one of the guys, he doesn’t make himself feel like, ‘Well, I’m the head coach and you’re the player.’ He kind of takes himself to the player’s level, and the players really respect that. People [have] got to expect the Jets to really bring it into the tank in this game.”

It has been reported throughout the season that Ryan will be fired after the season. His next potential job, however, has been up for debate. Another head coaching job and television gigs have been on the list of things Ryan could do if he is indeed axed by the Jets front office.

Said Woody: “I think the worst thing he can do is go somewhere and be a defensive coordinator because isn’t that feeding in to what everybody already perceives him to be? In my opinion, if Rex were to get fired, he’d be better to just go on TV, kind of put that big personality out there on TV for everybody to see, and then if I were him, I would go around all across the country, especially in the college game and study offense. … He’ll get another shot again, but if he can improve in that aspect of his repertoire, Rex can be a heck of a coach.”

In Ryan’s first two years with the Jets, New York reached the AFC championship game both times. Yet after those seasons, the Jets have failed to make the playoffs each season.

“I think the talent eroded around Rex and the team,” Woody said. “When the Jets went to back-to-back AFC championship games, we arguably had the best offensive line in football. You had great, stable running backs. Mark Sanchez was a young guy but he wasn’t asked to do much. We had Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. And the defense was top notch. When you have all of those things working for you, you can do some things. But as the years went on, the talent level just steadily eroded. When you don’t have the talent to go with the schemes, it’s not going to work.”

Woody played for both Ryan and Bill Belichick. When he went to the Jets, he said he still had a high level of admiration for what the Patriots did on a weekly basis.

Said Woody: “I had even more respect for how the Patriots went about their business. When you’re on the other side, you kind of talk to everyone about, ‘What’s the mentality over there?’ The one thing that I always said is the Patriots aren’t going to beat themselves. Our preparation has to be top notch, especially situationally — that’s where [the Patriots] beat you every week is just situation football. Certain plays in the game, they make, you don’t make and they just go on and win the game. Those are the things that’s really fun when you’re on the dark side.”

Woody played with Darrelle Revis when the two were donning the green and white in New York. The former offensive lineman said Revis was a great person to play with and a joy to watch on the field.

“I love Revis, loved him to death,” Woody said. “I always tell people he’s a great guy. As fun as he is to watch on game day, he was even better in practice. That to me, that goes to show you how great of a player he is. He practices just as hard and maybe even harder in practice than he does in a game. That’s why he’s so good at his craft because he really works at it in practice and he hates to lose. That’s a guy you can go to battle with anytime.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano
Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

Every week, we list the Patriots’€™ “offensive touches,”€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’€™s a breakdown of the 2014 New England offense after 14 games:

RB Shane Vereen: 136 (88 carries, 48 catches) 3 negative catches, 7 negative runs
WR Julian Edelman: 102 (10 carries, 92 catches)
RB Stevan Ridley: 98 (94 carries, 4 catches), 8 negative runs
RB Jonas Gray: 85 (84 carries, 1 catch), 1 negative run
TE Rob Gronkowski: 76 (76 catches), 1 negative catch
WR Brandon LaFell: 63 (63 catches)
RB LeGarrette Blount: 54 (50 carries, 4 catches), 7 negative runs
QB Tom Brady: 27 (27 carries), 16 sacks, 11 kneeldowns
TE Tim Wright: 25 (1 carry, 24 catches), 6 negative rush
RB Brandon Bolden: 20 (19 carries, 1 catch), 3 negative runs
WR Danny Amendola: 15 (15 catches), 1 negative pass
RB James White: 12 (9 carries, 3 catches)
FB James Develin: 7 (1 carry, 6 catches)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (6 catches)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 6 (6 carries) 2 sacks, 6 kneeldowns
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 (3 catches)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 3 (3 catches)
WR Brian Tyms: 1 (1 catch)

Notes: Not including one kneeldown from Brady, the Patriots had three negative plays from scrimmage on Sunday against the Dolphins –€” one negative run each from Vereen, Blount and Gray. … On the season, New England has run 948 plays from scrimmage, and 51 of them have gone for negative yardage (5 percent), not including kneeldowns. … Against the Dolphins, the Patriots ran 64 plays, with 31 of them in shotgun with 41 of them coming in shotgun (48 percent). … In addition, the game-book lists them as having run five plays in no huddle (8 percent). … On the season, the Patriots have run 72 of their 948 plays out of no-huddle (8 percent) and 358 snaps in shotgun (38 percent). … By way of comparison, over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were in shotgun for 42 percent of their offensive snaps and they ran no-huddle on 11 percent of their snaps. … We’ve been following Vereen’s quest for 50 catches and 50 carries, and at this point, he’s only one of six backs with at least 85 carries and 45 catches. If he gets to the 50-50 mark, he’d be the first New England running back to do it since Kevin Faulk had 83 carries and 58 catches in 2008. … One other note: Edelman has 10 rushing attempts on the season, and is nearing a franchise record — the franchise mark for most carries by a wide receiver in a single season is Troy Brown, who had 11 in 2001.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
We get a complete analysis of the Patriots and the NFL with Peter King of SI/MMQB.

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Brandon Browner has helped spark the Patriots secondary to new heights with a physical style of play. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Brandon Browner has helped spark the Patriots secondary to new heights with a physical style of play. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

When the new emphasis on defensive holding and hands to the face was announced at the start of training camp, there was the understanding that certain players would struggle more than others adjusting.

It appears no one on the Patriots has had a harder time than Brandon Browner. As Chris Price points out, Browner has been flagged for 13 penalties (4 defensive holding, illegal contact, encroachment, 4 defensive pass interference, illegal use of hands, facemask, unnecessary roughness) 118 yards. Those 13 penalties are six more than the next closest perpetrator (Brandon LaFell, Logan Ryan six apiece).

On Tuesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if he cuts Browner some slack for his team lead in the dubious category because of the physical style he brings to the secondary.

“Penalties have been an issue for us all year as a team,” Belichick said. “We’€™ve had a lot of penalties, more than we want, €“ way more than we want. We’€™re trying to decrease that number and the frequency. [We’€™re] certainly not there yet, but we continue to make it a priority and address it and work to reduce them. I think there’€™s definitely been some progress, but we’€™re not there yet. That goes for everybody.”

By not singling out Browner publicly, Belichick made it clear that he’s expecting cleaner play across the board.

“It’€™s everybody’€™s responsibility to play penalty free in their area, whether it’€™s the coaches on play-calling and substitution and things like that, or whether it’€™s the individual players based on their techniques and whatever the situation is that they’€™re in: offense, defense, special teams. Whatever it happens to be, it’€™s to play penalty free,” Belichick said. “That always has been an emphasis point for us, and it will continue to be one for everybody.”

After the San Diego game, Devin McCourty noted that Belichick and Patriots’ coaches asked the defense to occasionally play “on the edge,” and that sometimes you live with penalties because of a certain situation on the field. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia fell more on the side of Belichick’s no-tolerance stance on Tuesday.

“I think Coach Belichick hit the question right on the head,” Patricia said. “Obviously, we are always going to coach and teach within the rules as [they] are explained to us and we are trying to abide by those rules. I think collectively as a whole we are always trying to eliminate penalties. It is something we are trying to do whether it’€™s from the coaching aspect of it or the playing aspect of it.

“You know you can’€™t have them. They are things that we look upon as detrimental to a drive, to a series, to a play. [It’€™s] something we are continually trying to eliminate from our game. So I don’€™t think there’€™s a situation where you are ever walking away saying, ‘€˜Hey, that penalty is OK’€™. We are always trying to coach within the rules. We are trying to coach what the point of emphasis is and we’€™re trying to do whatever we can to eliminate penalties from our play.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Through 14 games, the Patriots have been flagged for 110 penalties (fifth-most in the league) for a total of 987 yards (third-most in the NFL). To this point in the season, here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

‘€¨’€¨Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
CB Brandon Browner: 13 penalties (4 defensive holding, illegal contact, encroachment, 4 defensive pass interference, illegal use of hands, facemask, unnecessary roughness) 118 yards
ST/DB Logan Ryan: 7 penalties (illegal block above the waist, 2 defensive pass interference, 2 defensive holding, illegal use of hands, offsides on free kick), 88 yards
WR Brandon LaFell: 7 penalties (offsides on free kick, 3 offensive pass interference, 2 false starts, illegal shift), 50 yards
OL Nate Solder: 7 penalties (2 offensive holding, illegal block above the waist, 4 false starts), 50 yards
LB Jamie Collins: 6 penalties (unnecessary roughness, 2 defensive pass interference, 2 defensive holding, defensive offsides), 43 yards
S/ST Patrick Chung: 5 penalties (2 defensive holding, facemask, offensive holding, illegal block above the waist), 42 yards
OL Jordan Devey: 4 penalties (2 offensive holding, false star, unnecessary roughness), 40 yards
OL Bryan Stork: 4 penalties (2 false starts, 2 offensive holding), 30 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: 3 penalties (false start, unsportsmanlike conduct, unnecessary roughness), 35 yards
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 3 penalties (roughing the passer, defensive offsides, unnecessary roughness), 35 yards
ST/DB Don Jones: 3 penalties (3 offensive holding), 30 yards
OL Dan Connolly: 3 penalties (chop block, offensive holding, false start), 29 yards
Team: 3 penalties (illegal substitution, false start, illegal block above the waist), 24 yards
CB/ST Malcolm Butler: 2 penalty (defensive pass interference, offensive holding), 34 yards
DL Chandler Jones: 2 penalties (2 roughing the passer), 30 yards
WR Danny Amendola: 2 penalties (facemask, offensive holding), 25 yards
S/ST Duron Harmon: 2 penalties (face mask, illegal block above the waist), 21 yards
OL Ryan Wendell: 2 penalties (facemask, false start), 20 yards
S/ST Tavon Wilson: 2 penalties (offensive holding, illegal block above the waist) 20 yards
DE Rob Ninkovich: 2 penalties (illegal use of hands, facemask), 20 yards
DL Dominique Easley 2 penalties (neutral zone infraction, unnecessary roughness), 20 yards
QB Tom Brady: 2 penalties (2 intentional grounding), 20 yards
WR Aaron Dobson: 2 penalties (offensive pass interference, false start) 15 yards
OL Marcus Cannon: 2 penalties (offensive holding, false start), 15 yards
OL Cameron Fleming: 2 penalties (false start, offensive holding), 15 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: 2 penalties (illegal contact, tripping), 15 yards
OL Sebastian Vollmer: 2 penalties (false start, illegal use of hands), 14 yards
CB Darrelle Revis: 2 penalties (2 defensive holding), 10 yards
CB Alfonzo Dennard: 2 penalties (2 defensive holding), 10 yards
WR/ST Brian Tyms: 1 penalty (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15 yards
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
RB/ST Brandon Bolden: 1 penalty (offensive holding) 9 yards
DL Sealver Siliga: 1 penalty (illegal use of hands), 5 yards
OL Josh Kline: 1 penalty (false start), 5 yards
WR Julian Edelman: 1 penalty (false start), 5 yards
LS/ST Danny Aiken: 1 penalty (false start), 5 yards
TE Tim Wright: 1 penalty (false start) 5 yards
DE Zach Moore: 1 penalty (illegal use of hands), 5 yards

Most penalized by position
Offensive line: 27 penalties, 218 yards
Cornerback: 26 penalties, 260 yards
Special teams: 13 penalties, 117 yards
Wide receiver: 12 penalties, 95 yards
Linebacker: 9 penalties, 78 yards
Defensive line: 8 penalties, 80 yards
Tight end: 5 penalties, 50 yards
Safety: 4 penalty, 39 yards
Team: 3 penalties, 24 yards
Quarterback: 2 penalties, 21 yards

Most frequently called penalties
False start: 21
Offensive holding: 18
Defensive holding: 14
Defensive pass interference: 9
Illegal use of hands: 6
Illegal block above the waist: 6
Facemask: 6
Unnecessary roughness: 6
Offensive pass interference: 4
Roughing the passer: 3
Offsides on free kick: 3
Defensive offsides: 2
Illegal contact: 2
Intentional grounding: 2
Unsportsmanlike conduct: 2
Chop block: 1
Illegal shift: 1
Illegal substitution: 1
Neutral zone infraction: 1
Encroachment: 1
Tripping: 1

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Geno Smith and the Jets passing game have struggled this season. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Geno Smith and the Jets passing game have struggled this season. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Ground and pound. Three simple words that defined the brash and power New York Jets when they were successful under Rex Ryan.

With a 3-11 record, gone is the cockiness but the desire to find different ways to run the ball is still priority No. 1 with Ryan’s Jets. Whether it’s Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Jeremy Kerley or even the newly acquired Percy Harvin, the Jets are trying to compensate for the lack of a passing attack from Geno Smith. But Smith, along with Ivory, Johnson, Kerley and Harvin, is a definite threat to run.

“Well they use a lot of guys. They have a lot of good runners: Ivory probably runs as hard as any player we’€™ve played against recently. Johnson has a lot of skill; Smith hurt us running in the first game. He’€™s a good runner, he’€™s a very athletic guy, can scramble in the passing game,” Belichick said. “They ran a bunch of reverses, Kerley, obviously Harvin. They use a lot of people in their running game to make you defend from sideline to sideline, as well as the inside power-type games and some read-option plays.”

Harvin has 31 carries for 201 yards (6.5 yards/attempt) and a touchdown this season, 21 of those coming with the Jets after he was acquired from Seattle. Ivory leads the Jets with 739 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Johnson has 613 yards and a 4.5 yards/carry average with a touchdown. If there’s a way the Patriots could be in trouble Sunday at MetLife, it starts with the Jets getting their running game up to speed.

“They have a very extensive and diverse running game,” Belichick said. “This will probably be the most volume of running game schemes and run game issues that they create that we’€™ve had in quite a while, certainly all year.

With Smith struggling as a passer, the Jets have turned back to their “Wildcat” to try and take some pressure off the signal caller, sometimes taking Smith off the field altogether.

“I think the Wildcat is, like a lot of things, defensively you just have to be ready for it every week. Wildcat, unbalanced line, empty formation, all those different type of things, if a team has shown them, they’€™ve shown them,” Belichick said. “But if they haven’€™t shown them, there’€™s always a possibility that they could put something like that together as a game plan thing. We always have to be ready for those type of things.

The Wildcat with the quarterback extended is, yeah, definitely I would say a version of the old single-wing type of scheme type of offense. It just presents another ‘€“ but it’€™s no different than a running quarterback. If you have a running quarterback in the backfield like [Ryan] Tannehill, Tannehill is back there with a running back and him, when he either gives the ball or fakes it to the back and then he either keeps it around the end or boots it and doesn’€™t have the ball, you still have to defend that.

The Wildcat, whether you split the guy out, or whether you do what Miami did and take the quarterback out after he hands the ball, you have to have somebody to account for that guy. It just creates another gap for you on the defensive line that that’€™s the problem that you just run out of guys or you don’€™t have the player that you would normally have if he wasn’€™t assigned to the quarterback. You won’€™t have that player because you have to commit somebody to the quarterback. It changes your numbers and some of your run defense fits and reads to again, depending on what coverage you’€™re in or what type of defense you’€™re in, but that’€™s the problems it creates and that’€™s why teams use it.

“However you do that with the quarterback, whether you boot him and pass it like the [Mike] Shanahan offenses did, they were so famous and productive for in Denver with the stretch play and then the boot, you have to have somebody to contain that guy. Or the read-option concept or the Wildcat concept, they’€™re all ways to try to take one guy out of the defensive front and force you to account for either the quarterback coming out of the backfield or him already be extended out. Then you have one less player in the box than your normal running game. That’€™s what they’€™re trying to do.”

As for Harvin, Belichick is ready for Rex Ryan to make full use of his speed as a weapon, someone Ryan didn’t have in the first meeting Oct. 16, and someone Belichick and the Patriots didn’t have to worry about.

“He is a weapon and they’€™ve used him as a weapon,” Belichick said. “They’€™ve handed him the ball a number of times. He’€™s certainly a threat as a receiver, so he can go down the field and get behind the defense. He can carry the ball on outside plays like reverses and speed sweeps and things like that. He’€™s also very dangerous on catch-and-run plays like under-routes and slip-screens and those type of things. They move him around in different spots, so you don’€™t know exactly where he’€™s going to be.

“Sometimes he’€™s detached, sometimes he’€™s in the backfield. He’€™s obviously a problem in kickoff returns. He’€™s a player that we know will be utilized somehow in their game plan. We have to have an awareness of where he is. They’€™ve been creative in getting him the ball and in different ways and trying to get him into space and give him a chance to get started. He’€™s an explosive and very dynamic player. That will be a big challenge for us to mentally make sure that we don’€™t make a mistake on what we’€™re doing and then playing whatever play they run properly and doing a good job with our leverage and our tackling on not only him, but really all the other skill players. They have those backs and they’€™ve got a lot of guys that are hard to tackle that make yards on their own.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

There has been lots and lots of speculation this week that this will be the final meeting between Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick, at least with Ryan serving as head coach of the rival Jets.