FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When the New York Jets called New England earlier this month to inquire about trading for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, it was a long shot considering Bill Belichick hadn’t once traded during his Patriots coaching tenure with the team he infamously resigned from after one day as head coach in 2000.
But Jets coach Adam Gase recalls New York general manager Joe Douglas being optimistic about the prospect in the aftermath of New England signing four-time All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown.
Thomas, who played under Gase when he was offensive co-ordinator in Denver in 2013 and ’14, was a perfect fit for an offence the first-year Jets coach felt needed a boost after a season-opening loss to Buffalo.
“We were trying to figure out, ‘How could we go about this?'” Gase recalled. “I think to Joe’s credit, he was like, ‘I’m just going to call him and the worst they could say is no.’ And when they said, ‘Let’s talk,’ then those guys worked it out.”
Belichick acknowledged that the stars aligned perfectly to make a rare deal between the AFC East foes possible.
“I would say, a certain period of time when there’s no way this transaction would’ve happened,” Belichick said. “They’re not the easiest trades to make, but, you know, if the trade is good for both teams and ultimately what we’re trying to do is improve our team.”
It may be the only bit of kindness Belichick shows New York (0-2) when it arrives at Gillette Stadium for Sunday’s matchup.
The Patriots (2-0) ran through Pittsburgh and Miami in their first two games, outscoring them 76-3 in a pair of routs .
Now they face a Jets team against which they have won six straight games and eight consecutive regular-season games in New England. The Jets beat the Patriots in Foxborough in the playoffs in the 2010 season, but haven’t won a regular-season game there since 2008.
The Jets opened as an 18-point underdog. The line quickly grew to 23 by early in the week.
Asked this week if he’s ever gone into a game with his opponent favoured by that much, Gase smiled.
“Oh, I’m sure,” Gase said. “I was in Detroit five years.”
Some things to know as the two AFC East rivals square off in the first of two meetings this season:
Luke Falk will make his first NFL start after making his debut last Monday night against Cleveland.
The 24-year-old quarterback was on the practice squad a week ago, but was promoted to the active roster a few hours before the game. That was because Sam Darnold is recovering from mononucleosis . Trevor Siemian started against the Browns, but is now out for the season after injuring ankle ligaments. Falk went 20 of 25 for 198 yards after replacing Siemian.
Gase chose to stick with Falk as the starter — until Darnold returns in a few weeks. Falk was with Gase last season in Miami.
“He’s very confident in his abilities,” Gase said of Falk. “He’s confident in his intelligence, and he’s able to take things from the classroom with no reps and go out and execute. Obviously, being in the system for two years now, he has a really good grasp of it.”
The Patriots are the only team in the NFL yet to give up a TD and are just the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to allow three points or fewer through their first two games. The previous one was 1981 Buffalo Bills.
ON THE CORNER
Trumaine Johnson entered the season as the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback. He opened the team’s second game on the sideline — and stayed there most of the game.
Johnson, who signed a five-year, $72.5 million deal last year, was replaced in the lineup by Nate Hairston. And, it appears that could be the case against the Patriots.
“It just hasn’t worked out as well as we need it to,” Gase said of Johnson’s benching. “The good thing is we’ve got a long ways to go.”
Johnson didn’t play until late in the fourth quarter when Hairston dealt with cramps. Johnson acknowledged after the game against the Browns and again during the week that he was “upset” by the team’s decision. He insisted, though, he just wants to do what’s best for the team to help them win.
“When my number’s called,” Johnson said, “I’ll be ready to play.”
New England’s offensive line took another hit this week when starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn was placed on injured reserve .
Wynn hurt a foot during the Patriots’ 43-0 win at Miami. This is the second straight season Wynn has been placed on IR. A preseason Achilles tendon injury caused him to miss his entire rookie season in 2018.
It comes after starting centre David Andrews went on IR before the season opener with blood clots in his lungs. Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon also sat out last week after injuring his shoulder in the win over Pittsburgh.
Marshall Newhouse, who was signed last week, started in Cannon’s place against Miami. He is likely to get nod this week if Cannon remains out.
AP Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. In New York contributed to this report.
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