NEW YORK (AP) — Strictly speaking, the New England Patriots prefer bland to brash.
Let Rex Ryan and his loose-lipped New York Jets do the talking. Bill Belichick and his players prepare for a game, not a debate.
“Everybody’s got their own style,” the Patriots coach said Monday.
Belichick’s style is a strict one: advising players on how to handle questions, monitoring their comments and imposing gag orders on those who stray far from the party line.
“Rex does a great job with his team. I’m just trying to coach mine,” Belichick said when asked about Ryan’s approach. “I’m not really worried about what anybody else is doing. Is that the answer you’re looking for?”
No, the reporter on the conference call answered.
Belichick just laughed.
LISTEN: Boomer & Carton – Rex gets ‘personal’ with Belichick
“When he speaks to us, he just speaks the truth,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Monday during his weekly appearance on WEEI radio. “The only people that can really change the fate of what we are able to do each week are the guys sitting in the room.”
Ryan makes no apologies for his brash talk — from saying he didn’t come to New York “to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings” to Monday’s remark that Sunday’s divisional playoff game between the Jets and the Patriots “is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan.”
At least on the sidelines.
“I might have a little quickness on him. He’s probably got a little more strength and power on me,” Belichick said. “I don’t think you’ll see either one of us out there making any blocks or tackles or runs or throws or catches.”
The Patriots lost to the Jets 28-14 on Sept. 19, then beat them 45-3 on Dec. 6.
After the Jets advanced to Sunday’s game in Foxborough with a 17-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night, tight end Dustin Keller said, “We’ve been wanting the Patriots for a while now.”
Belichick wants any pregame comments that might motivate an opponent kept in-house, not posted on the other team’s bulletin board.
Why risk providing extra incentive or giving tips about the Patriots’ strategy or injuries?
“It’s a control of, ‘Hey, here is the message of the team. Here is what we want to get out, here is our belief system, let’s communicate this,'” said former Patriots fullback Heath Evans, now with the New Orleans Saints. “We were not going to talk about what can hurt this team.”
Evans was a go-to guy for reporters during his four seasons with the Patriots, unfailingly cooperative and articulate — until he apparently said too much and Belichick cut him off.
Offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan, a fifth-round draft pick in 2006, talked freely one day early that season. A week later, he said Belichick told him not to talk.
And this season cornerback Kyle Arrington, cheerful and available to reporters, told them one day that he wasn’t allowed to be interviewed.
One Patriots player who could get away with criticizing an opponent the week before a game was safety Rodney Harrison, but he usually backed it up with jarring hits and pass break ups.
Belichick, he said, never tried to silence him.
“He says that no matter what anyone is talking about it’s just talk,” said Harrison, now an analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America. “Don’t get distracted by that.”
The Patriots couldn’t help but listen three years ago when Pittsburgh safety Anthony Smith guaranteed a win. They were 12-0 at the time and headed toward an 18-0 season before losing the Super Bowl. Asked about the comments, Harrison said before that game, “Who was it?”
Told it was Smith, Harrison said, “Never heard of him.”
The Patriots won the game 34-13 behind Brady, who tossed four touchdown passes. Smith messed up the coverage on a 63-yard score to Randy Moss and a 56-yarder to Jabar Gaffney. After another scoring pass, Brady ran downfield and jawed facemask-to-facemask with Smith.
After the game, the quarterback wouldn’t repeat what he said.
“If my mother reads it,” he said, “she wouldn’t be very happy.”
Even Belichick, in a rare public slam at an opponent, leveled one at Smith.
“We’ve played against a lot better safeties than him,” he said.
Those remarks came during and after the game. You won’t hear that kind of talk from the Patriots before Sunday’s game. There’s too much at stake.
“We’re all at the point this year where we’re motivated by much more than what people may say to us, or about us,” Brady said. “We’re motivated by the fact that we’ve got a great opportunity to be playing a division rival at home for the most important game of the year.”
Brady did take a swipe at the Jets last summer, saying he hadn’t watched “Hard Knocks,” the television show about New York’s training camp, because “I hate the Jets.”
But that was a month before they played each other.
On Sunday, they need to control the Jets’ running game that gained 169 yards last Sunday against the Colts. Receivers need to get open against cornerback Darrelle Revis, who held Reggie Wayne to one catch for 1 yard after he led the AFC with 111 receptions.
“They’ll be coming in with a lot of confidence on Sunday, which they should,” Belichick said in his usual monotone.
Nice and bland. Just the way he likes it.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.