New Patriots linebacker James Harrison had plenty to say on Friday, although most of it was done via his social media platforms.
In a lengthy post on his Instagram account, Harrison opened up about his release from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the organization he’d spent all but one of his 15 professional seasons with.
“If anybody thought I signed a two-year deal with a team in the NFL at age 39 to sit on the bench and collect a check and participation trophy, they’re mistaken,” Harrison began.
Harrison indicated in the post that he’d been promised a larger role when he re-signed with the Steelers in the offseason, but the franchise’s all-time sacks leader, with 82.5, appeared in just five games and played a total of 40 snaps. He also mentioned in the post that he asked to be released three separate times this season before Pittsburgh finally set him free last Saturday.
At his locker, Harrison met with reporters in Foxboro for the first time during Friday’s media availability, where he had decidedly less to say. Most of his answers to questions thrown his way were brief, although he did reveal that there were no other offers waiting for him once he passed through waivers.
“I like to compete,” Harrison said. “That’s my main motivation, to go out and play the game.”
A question pertaining to comments several of his former Steelers teammates made about him was cut off by Harrison, who asked “any Jets questions?” in reference to Sunday’s opponent.
Harrison said that how he attained his usual No. 92 from Geneo Grissom, who had worn the number since arriving in New England in 2015, was between he and Grissom.
“We’ve got no Jets questions, huh? Alright, see you later,” Harrison ended his session.
Offensive tackles Nate Solder and LaAdrian Waddle were asked about practicing against Harrison, but like their new teammate, seem to have their attention shifted solely to the Jets.
“We’ve got a lot of good players,” Solder said of practicing against Harrison. “Really my focus is getting ready for the players on the Jets team, though. They’ve got a lot that makes it hard for us to play well.”
“James is getting ready for the Jets, I’m getting ready for the Jets,” Waddle said. “The scout team, we’re over there getting ready for the Jets.”
Brady vs. the Jets
As a starter, Tom Brady is 24-6 in the regular season vs. Gang Green (25-8 including the postseason). He’s 12-2 in games played at Gillette Stadium vs. New York in the regular season, his last loss over a decade ago on Nov. 12, 2006. That game is perhaps best remembered for being the last game played at Gillette on a natural grass surface. The rain led to awful field conditions that day, on which Brady threw an interception and Doug Gabriel lost a fumble to doom New England despite outgaining the Jets in total yardage, 377-278. New York won 17-14 under head coach Eric Mangini.
Currently, Brady has thrown an interception in five consecutive games for just the second time in his career, the other occurrence way back in 2002. He’s well aware that he needs to cut back on the mistakes he so seldom makes,
“There’s been more in the last couple of games than there should be,” Brady acknowledged. “I think it’s just making smart decisions. Whenever they [the defense] get their hands on it, it’s not a good thing for the offense. Putting it in places where only we can touch it or we can catch it is important, especially understanding the situations in the games. We’ve been able to overcome a few of those but, obviously, like at Miami, we didn’t overcome them and ball possession is going to be extremely important in this game.
“We always try to do no turnovers. That’s a good goal for us. That’s what we should have every week. I can certainly do a better job than I’ve done protecting it and it's going to be really important.”
As a team, the Jets have 11 interceptions, tied for 18th in the NFL. Gone are the days where Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie were roaming the secondary for New York.
While the Jets are just 5-10 in 2017, they’ve exceeded the expectations of many by being as competitive as they have been this season – so much so that head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan had their contracts extended today through the 2020 season.
The Patriots survived the Jets in their trip to New York on Oct. 15, coming back from a 14-0 deficit to win 24-17.
Out in the Cold
The current NBC Boston forecast for Sunday calls for a high of 14 degrees in the Greater Boston Area.
If those temperatures hold true at Gillette Stadium, it will be the third-coldest game-time temperature in Patriots history and the coldest mark for a regular season game.
Currently, the only colder games on record include New England’s 17-14 win over the Tennessee Titans in the 2003 postseason, when the temperature settled at 4 degrees with a wind chill of -10, and a 41-27 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2004 AFC Championship Game, when temps soared all the way to 11 degrees with a wind chill of -1.
“We’ll see what we get,” Belichick said when asked about the forecasted weather conditions for Sunday. “I’m not going to base too much off of what it is two days before the game. We’ve all been down that road before. The weather changes pretty quickly around here. Even what we forecast for the day of the game on the day of the game isn’t always what we get, so we’ll see what we get and we’ll deal with it.”
“It’s mentally and physically taxing on the body,” Rob Gronkowski said of playing in the cold. “Obviously, it’s more mental, going out in these cold weather games and going out even in a cold weather practice. But we’ve got to focus on the Jets still.”
“The Jets have to play in the same weather we have to play in,” LaAdrian Waddle noted.