Contrary to popular belief, there is a road to victory for the winless Jets (0-2) over the mighty Patriots (2-0) on Sunday at Gillette Stadium — Las Vegas and its point spread favoring New England by 22 points be damned.
That road is long, narrow, windy, hilly and precarious, with no guard rails — and Gregg Williams is driving the bus.
The Jets’ fiery, sometimes controversial defensive coordinator is going to need to dial up the game plan of his life to confound Tom Brady and company, with equal parts scheme and unbridled intensity. To borrow a phrase from former Giants great Lawrence Taylor, the Jets need to attack the Patriots’ prolific offense “like a bunch of crazed dogs and have some fun.’’
The Jets, who will walk into Gillette Stadium with their third-string quarterback (Luke Falk, y’all) starting against Brady (who owns a 28-7 career record against them), have nothing to lose. And their best path to victory is through Williams’ defense and whatever it can do to rough up and disrupt Gisele Bundchen’s husband.
The look in Williams’ eyes on Friday told you all you needed to know about how he relishes this opportunity.
“Those are things that drives us all,’’ Williams said. “This game is going to come down to four or five plays. Can you tell me today what they are? No. None of us can. So, every play is important. And when we play that way, when we focus that way in practice, game day becomes routine. Now, can you push a button and ramp it up even more? Can you take it up even a little bit more?’’
Jets safety Marcus Maye, perhaps echoing the message Williams has been delivering to the players in the meeting rooms this week, talked about keeping this game and the opponent in perspective and not putting the Patriots on a pedestal.
“Everybody knows what Tom’s going to give you and what he’s done in his career,’’ Maye said. “But this [is] the next Sunday. The Pats just happen to be our next opponent. You can’t make the situation bigger than what it is. You’ve got to go in and play football. The plan is going to be good, but we’ve got to play sound football, fundamental and disciplined. If we’re in the right positions the plays will take care of themselves.’’
Williams called Brady a “good friend,’’ though he never has coached him. Brady, he said, annually sends signed memorabilia to Williams for the live auctions in his charity golf tournament to raise money for kids in his hometown in Missouri.
“He’s a good friend, except on that day [we play], we’re on opposing sidelines,’’ Williams said. “He participates every single year in my foundation for kids, and I really appreciate him doing that. I teased Tom as soon as it was over this summer that the three items that he sent brought the most amount of money this year at the live auction.’’
Williams also has a reverence for Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
“Bill Belichick and I go so far back, he mentored me in some things and when I first broke in the league,’’ Williams said. “We’ve both shared a lot of different things throughout the years. He’s copied from me and I’ve copied from him. I have a lot of respect for everything he has done through the years.’’
Williams hopes to earn more of Belichick’s respect with his game plan on Sunday.