FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — As they normally do when the opposition says something you might post on a bulletin board, the New England Patriots reacted diplomatically Monday to Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey guaranteeing his team is “going to the Super Bowl and we gonna win that b——.”
“Man, that guy’s really good,” said a smiling Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater, asked to react to Ramsey. “He should be confident, because he’s very, very good.
“The good lord made that guy and he said, ‘let there be corner’ and there he is, so I’d be confident if I were him as well.”
That’s just the way the Patriots, who never say anything negative about their opponents, handle these things.
Safety Duron Harmon, asked the same question, said, “Hey, man, Jalen Ramsey’s a good player. He talks a lot of trash, that’s part of his game and you can’t take it away from him. He’s confident — he should be confident in his team. He has a really good football team.
“The top two AFC teams are left and he’s a part of one of them, so his approach to the game is different than ours, but we can’t knock him for it,” Harmon said. “We know they’re going to come ready to play and we just gotta match their type of physicality, and also just their emotion and their readiness to get ready to play.”
The Patriots, appearing in their seventh straight AFC title game and seeking the sixth Super Bowl trip of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady (in their 12th title game), got an early taste of the Jaguars way back in August. That’s when the teams held three days of joint practices before a preseason game won by Jacksonville 31-24.
“That was like eons ago, when you think about the course of a football season and how long it is and what happens over the course of the football season,” said Slater. “You look at those joint practices, for example, Jalen Ramsey wasn’t even out there and this guy . he’s elite. There are different dynamics to both teams. I don’t know how much we’ll look at those practices and that preseason game; I’m sure we’ll take a look at it, but both teams are very different.”
Veteran offensive lineman Nate Solder was impressed with what he saw from the Jaguars on Sunday.
“Their front stood out to me, the way they get after the quarterback, the way they stop the run . they were ball hawks, went after the ball on every play,” he said.
Looking back on the Jaguars in August and now in the conference title game, Solder said, “It’s a unique scenario, but I’m not surprised because we knew that they were good then as we know that they’re good now.”
Asked about how impressive it was for the Jaguars to go into Pittsburgh and win, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, “Very impressive; yeah. They did a great job. Again, they do a lot of things well, play good defense, can rush the passer, can stop the run, turn the ball over, can run the ball, have a lot of explosive players in the passing game, they’re good in the kicking game, they’re very aggressive in the kicking game.”
“They’re well coached. I know that, for sure. They’ve handled the situations that have come up in those games very well — fourth-and-1 in the first quarter, things like that. They’ve really done a good job, so yeah, it’s impressive.”
Patricia mum on Lions job, focuses on Jaguars
If Matt Patricia has a deal in place to become the next Detroit Lions coach, he’s not saying.
Patricia, the New England Patriots defensive coordinator, declined to address reports that he will be the next Lions coach during a teleconference Monday.
“I’m really just in the same place as I was last week,” Patricia said. “I went through the process that the NFL allows us to go through and during the bye week I was able to have the opportunity to talk to a couple teams, which I did, and then quickly turn my focus to a very good Tennessee team and now I’m onto a very dangerous Jacksonville team.”
The Lions are expected to hire Patricia as their next head coach once the Patriots’ season ends sometime in the next three weeks. For now, they’re forbidden from finalizing a contract with him according to the NFL’s tampering rules.
It has been nearly two weeks since the Lions started the interview process with in-house candidates Teryl Austin and Jim Bob Cooter, and 10 days since they concluded it by interviewing Patricia.
Four other head coaching jobs remain open after the Tennessee Titans fired Mike Mularkey as head coach on Monday. Patricia has interviewed for two of those openings — with the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals — and both teams appear content moving on to other candidates.
Patricia, 43, has a longstanding relationship with Lions general manager Bob Quinn, and in Detroit, he’ll take over a playoff-caliber team with Matthew Stafford at quarterback and a defense he can tweak to his liking.
The Patriots finished 25th in the NFL in total defense this season, but fifth in scoring defense, and have ranked in the top 10 in scoring in each of Patricia’s six seasons as coordinator.
They allowed a 95-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter of Saturday’s 35-14 playoff win over the Titans, then kept Tennessee off the scoreboard until 1:55 remained in the game.
The Patriots had eight sacks and held the Titans to 65 yards rushing.
The Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars this week in the AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars were a surprise winner over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
“I think Saturday night, I think (our defense) did a good job trying to execute the gameplan for the most part,” Patricia said. “There was certainly some instances where we could have been better and maybe a little bit more consistent and we’re going to try to make sure we improve on those areas.”
If the Patriots win Sunday, the Lions can meet with Patricia for a second interview next week but can’t hire him until after the Feb. 4 Super Bowl.
If the Patriots lose against the Jaguars, Patricia can be hired immediately and should be introduced as Lions coach next week.
“There’s a process involved with that,” Patricia said. “There’s things that the league sets out, guidelines, and I followed those when I could and fortunately the good part about it for me is those are set up so that I can really focus on my job that I need to do and that’s getting ready for Jacksonville.”