Jets defense not taking Brady-less Pats lightly Print
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Thursday, 11 September 2008 12:16
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 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Darrelle Revis barely even heard of Matt Cassel before this week.
``The only thing I know is his general information,'' the New York Jets cornerback said. ``He went to USC. I haven't looked at film of him yet.''
Well, there isn't much to find of the man taking over for the injured Tom Brady. Before leading the New England Patriots to a 17-10 win over Kansas City last week, Cassel had thrown just 39 passes in his three NFL seasons.
``I've seen him a little bit in the preseason and a little bit (Sunday),'' linebacker Eric Barton said. ``It looks like he's a strong-armed kid, he looks like he's smart with the football and he doesn't make very many mistakes. Most Patriots players don't.''
That's been a big key to their success this decade, and the Patriots don't expect to change things despite the reigning league MVP being lost for the season with a knee injury.
fety Rodney Harrison said. ``We love Tom. We miss him. You know his resume. But at the same time, he would want us, just as well as everyone in this locker room would want us, to focus on the Jets, and that's what we have to focus on.''
Instead of the juicy matchup of Brett Favre vs. Brady in the Jets' home opener, Cassel will make his first NFL start.
``It'll be exciting,'' Cassel said. ``It'll be fun, but in the end it's one of those things where you don't concentrate on who's on the other side of the ball. It's who you're going up against defensively and I've got to get my job done.''
And he'll have to do it against an improved defense that refuses to take the Patriots lightly without Brady.
``On offense, they're like a well-oiled machine,'' defensive end Kenyon Coleman said. ``I think it's a setup if you think it's going to be any different just because Cassel's in the game.''
Cassel already showed he can run the offense, going 13-of-18 for 152 yards, including a 10-yard TD pass to Randy Moss against Kansas City.
``Any day, anyone can have a Pro Bowl day,'' defensive end Shaun Ellis said. ``We are a confident bunch anyway, with or without Brady.''
That's good news, considering the Jets are going against a team that has beaten them in 10 of the last 11 meetings, including the last seven at the Meadowlands.
``We know the show must go on,'' Moss said. ``We know with him being gone that a lot of players are going to have to step it up a notch.''
Moss certainly knows about that after catching an NFL-record 23 touchdown passes from Brady and helping the Patriots to an undefeated regular season. Now he'll be on the receiving end of throws from a quarterback he hasn't been on the field with too often.
``We have had a little time to work on our timing and get our timing down, just for the fact that Tom didn't play in the preseason,'' Moss said. ``We have our work cut out for us, and we know that.''
The Jets have insisted all week that New England is still formidable even without Brady. And that starts at the top with Bill Belichick.
``The thing about Bill, don't ever bet against him,'' Favre said. ``I think he's a great schemer.''
Favre is 3-2 against New England in his career, including a victory in the 1997 Super Bowl with Green Bay. He last played the Patriots two years ago, when New England routed the Packers 35-0, a game Favre left with an injured elbow.
``Their front guys, they rush the passer, they bull rush,'' Favre said. ``They're hard to run against. They present a lot of problems. ... It's not that you're going to outsmart them. You have to outplay them. That's easier said than done.''
It sure is. And because of that, the Jets aren't buying into the thoughts they might be the front-runner now to win the AFC East.
``He'll find a way to get those guys to rally around Matt,'' Favre said of Belichick. ``And he's probably telling them, 'No one gives you a chance now.' They're still pretty darn good.''
Coach Eric Mangini scoffed at the thought the Jets' approach might change now that they're considered a favorite - by 3 points - in a matchup where they have consistently been an underdog lately.
``We didn't really go into the season with the mind-set of, 'Hey, we're playing for second place here,''' Mangini said. ``I don't think anybody in the room walks in, whoever the opponent is, and says, 'Hopefully, we can keep it close.'''
The Jets might have a better chance of doing that, though, with Favre directing the offense. Six of New York's last seven losses to New England have been by 10 or more points. The Patriots know Favre's ability to improvise could make it more difficult for opponents to put away the Jets early.
``I think in the secondary, particularly, you can never relax,'' Belichick said. ``You never want to relax anywhere, but Brett is the type of player that can take the ball from one side of the field and in a split second, turn around, whip it somewhere else and put it right on the money.''
The Patriots also still have enough firepower on their offense to give teams fits with Moss, Wes Welker, Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk.
``There are some definite things that are different about Matt and Tom stylistically,'' Mangini said. ``The system I think is going to remain consistent. The weapons he has available are consistent, but how he goes through his whole operation is going to unfold here. Some of that, we're going to have to adjust to as the game goes on.''
 

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