FOXBORO, Mass. — It hasn’t been a great 2016 season for two veteran players being paid big money by the New York Jets.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis, who’s making $17 million this season, hasn’t been his usual lockdown self. Just check the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta’s Twitter timeline if you’re skeptical.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s on New York’s books for $12 million, has been benched twice — once for Geno Smith and again for Bryce Petty.
Don’t tell Bill Belichick about those players’ struggles, however, as the Patriots head coach isn’t taking either veteran lightily as New England prepares to play the Jets on Sunday.
“Fitzpatrick is averaging 26 points per game in his last three weeks, so we all know what he’s capable of,” Belichick said. “We’ve seen him many times.”
Fitzpatrick has a career 2-7 record against the Patriots, completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 2,630 yards with 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also has carried the ball 26 times for 130 yards against New England.
“He’s a dangerous player, very smart,” Belichick said. “He has control of the offense. He has the ability to get into plays he likes. … He’s tough. You see him scrambling for extra yards, diving forward, blocking on running plays when the runner reverses his field and things like that. He’s a fearless player, he’s tough, he’s competitive. He’s played very well against us whether it was in Buffalo or with the Jets. We have a lot of respect for him.”
The Jets might not be saying the same about their quarterback at this point, but Belichick won’t let his team know that.
The same goes for Revis, who’s been burned by many a No. 1 receiver this season. The Patriots are looking smart for letting him walk in free agency after a stellar one-year 2014 rental in New England. The Jets handed Revis a five-year, $70 million contract the following season.
Belichick was asked how Revis looks this year but referenced last season’s Patriots-Jets game in New York.
“Well, just go back to our game,” Belichick said. “He had the big interception against us down there. I would never underestimate that player. He’s got good skills. He’s a good competitor. I would never underestimate him.”
Belichick won’t say it, but the Patriots have a good chance to exploit both Fitzpatrick and Revis on Sunday. Fitzpatrick has 13 interceptions to just eight touchdowns this season while completing 56.4 percent of passes. Revis currently is graded as the 84th-best cornerback in the NFL this season by Pro Football Focus. That ranks below Patriots cornerbacks Malcolm Butler (fourth), Eric Rowe (44th), Logan Ryan (66th) and Justin Coleman (75th).
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images