Rex Ryan spoke today about the mental game that we're about to play against our old foes the Patriots on Thursday night. There's the mental component of getting properly prepared to play on any Thursday after a Sunday game, and the mindset the Jets will need to keep pace with Tom Brady's up-tempo offense.
There are the mental hurdles of just trying to get a finger on Brady in the pocket with the way the New England line hermetically seals the perimeter and the eyes that Tom Terrific has in the back of his head.
But Jets linebacker Antwan Barnes sees this mental game a little differently than many. He still remembers the first sack of his career well.
"Actually, it was a big game — it was pretty much our little Super Bowl in Baltimore because it wasn't a good season we were having," said Barnes, recalling his rookie season of 2007 with the Ravens. "That was the year that New England was the big bad boys in town. We were trying to end their winning streak.
"I'd kind of been feeling it the whole night, that I was going to get one, I was going to sack Tom Brady. I was going against probably a Hall of Fame guy in Matt Light. And I was just figuring that I'll see what I can do."
On that early-fourth-quarter third-down play, he savored, "I just felt it, went full-speed with it. And it ended up being my first sack."
That reminiscence hardly means that Barnes, six years later, is guaranteeing another takedown of the Patriots' impeccable passer. But on the other hand, he said today, "I want to. I'd take another."
And why not? Since leaving the Ravens, Antwan Barnes has become quite the pass rusher. He had 18.5 sacks in three seasons of mostly situational work in San Diego.
On Sunday he got his first Jets sack on the opening drive of our Sunday win over the Buccaneers, then nearly pounced on an end zone fumble for his first pro score, only to have QB Josh Freeman kick it away at the last split-second for a safety. And Ryan showed video this week of Barnes working his man down the line, enabling CB Isaiah Trufant to come roaring off the edge, forcing Freeman to step up and unload quickly — right into the hands of Dawan Landry for our first takeaway of the season.
Ryan reminds that sacks aren't the only measure of a defense, recalling his first meeting with the Patriots as Jets head coach in 2009, when his "D" hit Brady 23 times but didn't sack him. Nevertheless, the Jets prevailed at home that day, 16-9.
But Rex still won't turn down something like the five-sack effort that helped pave the defensive effort in our 2010 AFC Divisional Round triumph at Gillette.
"Yeah, I think we have some guys who can rush the passer, I don't think there's any doubt," he said. "Conventional or otherwise, it's always key to get a pass rush."
Can these Jets get to Brady on Thursday night?
"Of course. Anybody can get to him. You can probably get to him," Barnes told an inquiring reporter. "That's our job, especially mine. My job is to get after him. So that's what I'm going to do."
Our Monday injury report listed WR Jeremy Kerley with a concussion from his Sunday collision against the Buccaneers: "Jeremy's deal was he was cleared during the game to return, then after the game he was cleared," Ryan said, "but when he came in Monday, the trainers looked at him and got another evaluation of him, and determined it was a concussion that he has."
Kerley joined LB Quinton Coples (ankle) and QB Mark Sanchez (shoulder) as players who did not participate in today's midday workout. Ryan said we won't officially announce game statuses for the injured players until Wednesday. But to be prepared in case JK can't go, we re-signed WR Ben Obomanu, who was with us throughout the offseason and training camp and was a final cut Aug. 31. Also, LB Scott Solomon was released from the active roster.
Rex on Coples' rehab: "He's doing great. It's really only been, what, three weeks? He's been attacking this rehab now, I can tell you that much. He wants to get out there in the worst way. Hopefully he'll be out there in the very near future." With the first week in the books, the Jets check in at No. 4 with the 250 yards they allowed the Buccaneers. It's very early to make predictions, but Ryan has said he thinks this is a top-five unit, and this ranking marks the 111th week in the last 137, dating to 2005 with the Ravens, that a Rex Ryan defense has placed in the NFL's top 10.