FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — There will be no declarations regarding ring-kissing, nor will there be any vulgar shots from Jets players at Patriots stars.
No, the short week of preparation and the precarious situation the Jets are in heading into Thursday night's visit from the Patriots means trash-talking and hype are out. Film study and body recovery are in, along with actual compliments traveling between Florham Park and Patriots Place.
Rex Ryan pointedly avoided "tweaking" the Pats in his Monday news conference. He went a step further on a conference call, calling criticism of Bill Belichick "absolutely ridiculous" in regard to keeping Rob Gronkowski on the wing of the extra-point protection team late in Sunday's 59-24 win over the Colts.
Gronkowski broke his left forearm on that PAT and the airwaves of New England have filled with sudden personnel experts who wondered why Gronkowski would do such a menial task at all, and still be doing it on a try for a 59th point in a blowout.
"It was on an extra point — he's probably done it a zillion times," Ryan said of Gronkowski. "He's probably done it a hundred times this year for the simple fact of how many points they score. But you never see that. Every single team in the league — we have (offensive lineman) D'Brickashaw Ferguson there. You talk about a freak deal what happened. But unfortunately, that's part of the game."
Relayed those comments, Belichick was even more gracious toward his usually brash counterpart.
"I feel like I have a good relationship with Rex," Belichick said. "Obviously we want to beat each other. We're in the same division and that's just competitiveness. I see Rex from time to time during the year. Like I said, we had his brother on the staff here for four years. I've known his father for 30 years, whatever it is, it's been a long time. He's a son of a coach, he's a football guy, he's been around it his whole life; I have too. There are a lot of things we have in common. But this week it's about two teams trying to compete against each other."
It has rarely been that way between these teams, who face each other for the ninth time in Ryan's tenure, including a 2010 playoff game. The previous eight meetings have been split, a sign that no matter what sort of zaniness surrounds the Jets, they come to play against what Ryan perceives is their biggest, bitterest rival.
And that's true even if the rhetoric is toned down from Ryan's proclamation in his first days on the job in 2009 that he would not "kiss Belichick's rings," or from the personal shot Antonio Cromartie took at Tom Brady before the Jets' playoff upset of the Pats two seasons ago.
"Rex is a great coach. Whatever he's doing, there's a method to it," said Marquice Cole, a Patriots special-teamer who spent the past three seasons with Ryan and the Jets. "He knows what he's doing. If he's not talking as much, it's for whatever reason he thinks will be beneficial for his team."