FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- One year after being named the NFL's top defensive rookie, New York Jets standout Sheldon Richardson believes he's just as good as any defensive lineman in the league, including J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.
"J.J. Watt, he's got a few more sacks than me, but it's the same type of disruption," Richardson told ESPN.com Thursday. "He's a little more active, I'll give you that, but we have the same type of determination, same heart, same skills. He scores touchdowns, I score touchdowns."
Richardson, one of the few bright spots in the Jets' dismal season, leads the team with 6.5 sacks. He scored two rushing touchdowns in 2013, but hasn't received any offensive "touches" this year.
Jets-Patriots, by the numbers:
11 -- Number of "feet" references by Wes Welker during a nine-minute Q&A with reporters during the run-up to the 2010 divisional playoff game -- an obvious shot at Ryan. Welker was benched by Bill Belichick at the start of the game.
10 -- Santonio Holmes' uniform number. He made one of the greatest touchdown catches in Jets history, a diving, toe-tapping grab in the playoff game.
9 -- Points scored by the Patriots in their first meeting against Ryan, on Sept. 20, 2009. It was one of the best defensive performances under Ryan.
8 -- New England victories.
7 -- The Jets' margin of victory in the divisional playoff game, 28-21 -- the franchise's biggest win since Super Bowl III.
6 -- Games decided by seven points or less, including the past three; also the uniform number of Mark Sanchez, one of the central figures in the rivalry.
5 -- Touchdowns scored by the Patriots in the second quarter of the game on Nov. 22, 2012. Two of the touchdowns came on fumble returns.
4 -- Touchdown passes by Tom Brady in the 45-3 blowout on Dec. 6, 2010, prompting this memorable quote from Ryan: "I came in here to kick (Belichick's) butt and he kicked mine."
3 -- Number of Belichick Super Bowl rings that Ryan has refused to kiss.
2 -- Questions by ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio during his unforgettable interview with Bart Scott after the Jets' playoff upset. It didn't take much prodding to spark Scott's epic "Can't Wait!" rant.
1 -- Butt Fumble.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- When cornerback Josh Thomas was cut from the New York Jets days after his luggage, playbook and passport were stolen from an extended stay hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey, he said the team told him part of the reason he was being let go was that he didn't engage enough with his teammates.
On Thursday, his first with the Detroit Lions, Thomas said the Jets coaches didn't really engage with him while he was a player, either.
"I feel like I wasn't given the attention necessary as far as being engaged from the coach-to-player standpoint and knowing the things I need to work on," Thomas said. "It became where I was there as a player and wanting and desiring some feedback that wasn't given. So sometimes I may have been standing there with a [deer-in-headlight] look in my eyes trying to figure out what I needed to do.
"So at the same time, just from the past experiences, every organization operates differently -- so it could be the way that the Jets operate. I just want to be great. I want to get better every day. I look forward to enhancing something about my game every day, and [the Jets] were just more independent there."
Thomas said New York was much different than his experiences in Seattle, Carolina and even his first day with the Lions -- all of which he said were more hands-on than the Jets staff.
Thomas said it was New York's overall staff -- and not just head coach Rex Ryan or his position coach, Tim McDonald -- that didn't really engage much with him.
As for what occurred on the field, wide receiver Percy Harvin (sprained ankle) was back on the field after sitting out Wednesday. He returned kickoffs during the 30-minute window open to the media, certainly a strong indicator he will play Sunday against the New England Patriots. Rex Ryan has expressed optimism, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.
Once again, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (turf toe) participated in positional drills. He seemed to be moving well and likely will take part in some team drills, as he did Wednesday. But his status for Sunday remains up in the air.
Back in the day, it was called the Border War. This time it will be more like the Border Snore -- at least in terms of the overall stakes.
It means something to the New England Patriots (11-3), who can clinch home-field advantage in the playoffs, but it's strictly a pride game for the New York Jets (3-11). That said, it's Patriots-Jets, which means there's always intriguing subtext. The main storylines are Rex Ryan's final home game, presumably, and Darrelle Revis' return.
NFL Nation reporters Mike Reiss, who covers the Patriots, and Rich Cimini, who covers the Jets, discuss the matchup.
Cimini: Bill Belichick has faced Ryan more often than any AFC East coach. They’re polar opposites in terms of personality and coaching style, so I’m wondering: If you could inject Belichick with truth serum, what do you think he’d say about Ryan?
Reiss: Reading Belichick’s mind is sometimes as difficult as a quarterback trying to get a read on Ryan’s spin-the-dial defensive schemes when Rex is at his best (e.g., the 28-21 road playoff victory over the Patriots in the 2010 season). But I’ll take a shot at it. I think Belichick has a pretty good feel for him personally after having his brother, Rob, on his staff in the early 2000s and I think he respects him as a defensive coach and a competitor. This hasn’t been the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals over the past six years; Ryan has given the Patriots quite a bit to handle. Now, if that truth serum were a really strong dose, I might envision a scenario in which Belichick rolls his eyes at some of the bravado and says something like: This has been very similar, both on and off the field, to coaching against his father Buddy back in the day. Like father, like son.
Ryan talked about not coming into the AFC East to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings. How would you sum up what he has accomplished in the past six seasons?
Cimini: You're right. Ryan was full of bravado when he arrived in 2009, vowing to tilt the balance of power in the division. It hasn't worked out the way he planned, as the Jets have finished as also-rans every year. I really thought they had a chance to close the gap on the Patriots after beating them in the 2010 divisional playoffs, the Jets' biggest victory since Super Bowl III, but Ryan & Co. slid back down the mountain. Ryan is 4-8 against the Patriots, plus that memorable postseason win -- not a very good showing. But Ryan has fared better than his predecessors, and I think that should count for something. He gave it his "best shot," as he likes to say, but he's had the misfortune of being in a division with arguably the greatest coach-quarterback tandem in history.
The site of Revis in a Patriots uniform probably will nauseate many Jets fans. So what do you think: Will Revis stick around beyond this year, or will he chase the money elsewhere?
Reiss: The Patriots are going to take their best shot to re-sign him, and my viewpoint has been that if New England is competitive with the best offers from a total dollars, structure and guaranteed-money standpoint, they will have the tiebreaker edge based on the positive experience that Revis has had in 2014. But they have a team philosophy as it relates to the salary cap that is extremely disciplined, and it’s hard for me to see them blowing that up for one player if the bidding gets to extremely high levels. As for Revis, I would expect him to attempt to maximize his financial opportunity, but I don’t sense that he would “chase the money” if it meant landing in a place that he viewed as being similar to a 2014-Oakland-Raiders-type sitaution. So there’s a balance there. In the end, it’s impossible to answer this question without knowing what the market will dictate. One interesting aspect to it would be if Ryan is let go by the Jets, lands with a new team as head coach, and that team makes a big run at Revis. That would certainly affect the market for Revis and potentially make it tougher for the Patriots to re-sign him.
Few saw 3-11 as where the Jets would be. How would you sum up what has led to this?
Cimini: It's pretty simple, and I'm going to break out another Ryan quote to illustrate my point. He always says the two positions that can win (or lose) games faster than any others are quarterback and cornerback -- and the Jets lost a bunch of games because of poor play at those spots. General manager John Idzik mismanaged the cornerback position in the offseason, leaving his head coach with a thin and talent-deprived unit. To play his scheme, Ryan needs man-to-man corners the way humans need water and oxygen. At quarterback, Geno Smith hasn't developed as well as they had hoped, throwing the offense out of whack. They've been operating with a small margin for error, hurting them in close games. They're 3-6 in games decided by eight points or fewer.
For the Jets to pull off the upset, they have to play their best game of the year and “hope something is missing” from the Patriots, according to Ryan. What could possibly be missing for them?
Reiss: We saw it Oct. 16, when the Jets came into the Patriots’ home stadium and nearly pulled off the upset -- shoddy tackling on defense, and a time-of-possession edge for the Jets of 40:54 to 19:06. If the Patriots can’t stop the running game, that would be one ingredient that could produce a carbon copy of what we saw in mid-October, and maybe this time the Jets could pull off the victory. The other thing that comes to mind is shaky play by the offensive line, which has had some ups and downs in recent weeks. If the Jets can get to quarterback Tom Brady early and capitalize on some of the O-line miscues we’ve seen, that would be another area they could have an edge.
A win over the Patriots would mean a lot to Rex Ryan and this team. What are the key areas you see that could help the Jets spring the upset?
Cimini: Basically, this is the Jets' playoff game -- and, yes, I do think they have a chance to win. It would take a ball-control offense and a plus number in the turnover margin. As the Jets proved in the previous meeting, it takes more 200 rushing yards and a 40-minute possession time to knock off the Patriots. They need a couple of field position-changing plays, either on offense or defense or special teams -- or all of the above. The X factor could be Percy Harvin, who didn't play in the first game. That could depend on the condition of his sprained ankle. He didn't do much last week. If they can get a big play or two out of him, the Jets might have a chance.
As we all know, Revis was ripped from Ryan's arms two years ago and now, given the sad state of the New York Jets, it's fashionable to play the blame game: Who ran Revis out of town?
Revis was all about the money, and his refusal to bend in contract negotiations left the Jets with little choice but to trade him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013. He was adamant about a $16 million-a-year deal, and he ended up getting what he wanted from the Bucs, if only for a season. Revis is a terrific businessman, but let's not paint him as the victim in the break-up. For six years, he squeezed as much money out of the Jets as humanly possible -- which is his right -- but it got to a point where the organization got tired of being an ATM.
Johnson, fed up with the contract squabbles, went into the 2013 offseason with a desire to trade his most valuable asset, and he found a GM willing to carry it out. One candidate who interviewed for the GM job, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Johnson made it clear his preference was to deal Revis to the highest bidder. It was a sound business decision. Revis was coming off major knee surgery and wasn't interested in giving the Jets a hometown discount. The Jets, after a 6-10 season, saw him as a bargaining chip to accelerate the rebuilding process.
Truth be told, Idzik did a good job, extracting a first-round pick for an injured player and using the pick to select Sheldon Richardson -- the GM's one shining moment. Where Idzik may have dropped the ball was last offseason, spurning a potential Revis reunion when the player's people reached out as soon as he was released by the Bucs. I didn't criticize Idzik at the time, assuming he had a legitimate fallback plan to restock the cornerback position. Who knew the plan was Dimitri Patterson?
Naturally, Revis ended up with the New England Patriots, making it worse. Still, the Jets felt they made the right call, saying privately they wanted to stay away from one-year rentals and build with long-term players. It sounded reasonable at the time. Now, of course, they look like fools. They're playing with third-string corners, finishing out one of the worst seasons in franchise history, and Revis could be on his way to the Super Bowl.
"I’m over here, that ship has sailed," Revis said Wednesday, responding to a question about whether he could've helped the Jets. "I missed that boat. I caught the New England Patriots boat"
The real loser is Ryan, who hasn't been the same without his best player. He has coached the same number of games with Revis as without him, and the results aren't close.
From 2009 to 2012, Revis played 47 games with the Jets. They went 27-20 with a defense that ranked fifth in points allowed. In the 47 games without Revis, counting games he missed because of pre-trade injuries, Ryan is 18-29 and the defense is 22nd in points allowed. A better post-Revis plan by Idzik would have helped level the numbers.
The Patriots? For a change, they have a real defense.
"He's had a great season," Ryan said of his former star. "He's playing well, there's no question about that."
He'll never say it because he's a good company man, but Ryan wanted a Revis reunion. In his introductory news conference, Ryan called Revis the best corner in football at a time when no one else was making that claim. Ryan knew what he had, a once-in-a-generation talent. Everything changed on that fateful day in Miami, September, 2012, when Revis wrecked his knee in what became his final game as a Jet.
He could've returned, of course, but this is a business. No one knows that better than Revis.
Rex Ryan, whose salty vocabulary has resulted in a couple of league fines over the years, feigned disbelief Wednesday as he discussed Tom Brady's recent sideline cursing incident. The New York Jets' coach said he was "offended by the language" during the recent New England Patriots-Green Bay Packers game.
"I was like, 'Wow,'" Ryan joked. "I'm thinking, 'Boy, that fine has to be really hefty because that's one, two, three, four, five of those bad boys. I'm not sure what that is, but I couldn't even get through the game."
There was plenty of sarcasm.
In a Nov. 30 loss to the Packers, Brady was caught on camera yelling a curse word -- over and over and over. He wasn't screaming at anyone in particular, it was just a moment of frustration late in the game. The FCC actually received a handful of complaints from viewers.
Ryan, of course, has been fined twice for cursing at fans. In 2012, he was slapped with a $75,000 fine for directing an F bomb at a fan as he left the field. Earlier this season, he received a $100,000 fine for yelling, "F--- you" as he walked to midfield for the postgame handshake after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Some people might wonder why Ryan was fined and Brady wasn't. Simple: Ryan was yelling at someone, Brady wasn't. Ryan didn't want to get into that.
"He might very well of had to cut a check or two," he said of Brady. "We're not sure. Hey, we all know I shouldn't have done it. I recognize that."
The New York Jets are being curiously non-committal on Wilkerson's status. He has missed three games with a turf-toe injury and, although he practiced again Wednesday on a limited basis, it's an up-in-the-air situation.
Rex Ryan objected to the notion that Wilkerson might "shut it down," claiming that phrase suggests his star defensive end might not want to play hurt. But the coach acknowledged, "Is there a chance he might not play (for the rest of the season)? I guess there's a chance, but he's not shutting it down. I don't like the way that sounds."
Wilkerson said he suffered a minor setback last week when a teammate stepped on his foot in practice. He acknowledged he's still "a little iffy about people being around me," meaning other players in the trenches. He's on his second specially designed shoe, hoping it provides enough comfort to allow him to play. With only two games left, they're proceeding with caution.
In other injury news, wide receiver Percy Harvin didn't practice because of his sprained ankle, but all signs point to him remaining in the lineup to face the New England Patriots.
That he's able to run is a minor miracle, based on the diagnosis. Ryan revealed that Harvin suffered a third-degree sprain two weeks ago. By definition, a third-degree sprain is a completely torn ligament.
Harvin earned toughness points for playing 37 snaps in last Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans. Clearly, he wasn't 100 percent (he had no catches), but he reported the ankle feels "a lot better" than it did last week.
The official injury reports:
New York Jets
Did not practice: Harvin.
Limited: Wilkerson, G Willie Colon (knee), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (shoulder).
Full: S Antonio Allen (hand), K Nick Folk (right hip), RB Chris Johnson (knee), C Nick Mangold (finger), S Calvin Pryor (shoulder).
New England Patriots
Out: DE Dominique Easley
Limited: LS Danny Aiken (finger), CB Kyle Arrington (hamstring), RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder), G Dan Connolly (ankle), WR Julian Edelman (thigh, concussion), T Cameron Fleming (ankle), LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder), DE Chandler Jones (hip), WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder), DE Rob Ninkovich (heel), RB Shane Vereen (ankle), LB Chris White (ankle).
Full: QB Tom Brady (ankle).
"Oh, hell, no, because I never came here to do that," he said Wednesday, referring to his classic sound bite from 2009 in which he claimed he didn't take the New York Jets' head-coaching job to kiss Bill Belichick's Super Bowl rings.
Several players said Ryan was more fired up than usual during the team meeting. The Jets face Belichick and the New England Patriots this week, and that always brings out the bravado in Ryan. He told the players they will approach the game as if they're 11-3, not 3-11.
"We don't like them, they don't like us," wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said. "There's a lot of history there."
When he arrived in 2009, Ryan was hoping to make a different kind of history. His goal was to dethrone the Patriots, and he wasn't shy about telling it to the world. When they stunned the Patriots in the 2010 divisional playoffs, it looked as if the Jets had closed the gap. It hasn't turned out that way.
Under Ryan, the Jets' regular-season record is 3-8 against the Patriots. In the same span, the Miami Dolphins are 3-9 and the Buffalo Bills are 1-10. But the Jets have that playoff win, so Ryan can make the case he's had more success than the others in the division.
But not as much as he wanted.
"I don't think you can just saddle that on me alone," Ryan said. "Hell, I think a lot of teams couldn't knock them off. ... To date, I haven't. I know exactly how I came in. It's how I am every day and every year. Yeah, you want to beat them, without question."
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It has been two years since he last played for the New York Jets, but Darrelle Revis still has an affinity for coach Rex Ryan, whose defensive scheme allowed the star cornerback to create "Revis Island."
Revis, currently in his first season with the New England Patriots, is upset at the widespread speculation that Ryan will be fired after the season.
"It's kind of sad for the position that Rex is in right now, but at the same time [the record is] something that they've got to change," Revis said Wednesday on a conference call with the New York media.
Revis returns to MetLife Stadium on Sunday for the second time since his controversial 2013 trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs opened the 2013 season at MetLife.
This time, it'll spark more emotion for all parties because he's playing for the Jets' No. 1 rival.
"I'm really not trying to pay attention to [the Jets' struggles], I'm really not," Revis said. "Me and Rex have a lot of history and we all know that. Some of those guys are dear to my heart and everything, but like I said, I've got to focus on the things that I am doing here, and I wish Rex the best."
Sources said Ryan was interested in reuniting with Revis last offseason -- and vice versa -- but Jets' management and ownership decided not to pursue him when he was released by the Bucs.
Asked how much he misses Revis, Ryan smiled.
"Revis? Ah ... you know," said Ryan, who went on to say he's proud of the players he has.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets haven't made a lot of big plays through the air, but they make headlines because of what has occurred in the air space.
For the second time in six weeks, the Jets practiced Wednesday as a plane circled the field carrying a banner that urged the firing of general manager John Idzik.
A disgruntled fan group, which has its own website, rented a plane that flew over practice during the media period. The banner read:
"Penalty Flag Day 12/21 FireJohnIdzik.com."
The group, which already has purchased billboard space near MetLife Stadium, is planning to distribute approximately 10,000 "Fire Idzik" flags at Sunday's final home game against the New England Patriots.
Flags already have been handed out at local bars.
Several players looked up during their special teams drills as the plane buzzed over the field in suburban New Jersey. Unlike the Nov. 5 flyover, Idzik and owner Woody Johnson weren't present.
Idzik, in his second year, has come under intense criticism for the Jets' 3-11 season. Coach Rex Ryan is expected to be fired, and there's growing speculation Idzik could be dismissed as well.
Johnson expressed his frustration with the season in a recent interview, but he has yet to reveal his plans.
He unwittingly fueled the firestorm by committing a mishap on Twitter. Johnson mistakenly favorited a tweet urging him to fire Idzik, prompting a mea culpa Tuesday night from the owner.
It was in response to this tweet: "@woodyjohnson4 you really need to #FireIdzik at this point. This roster is garbagio."