Jets hope to join the crowd, get their licks on Tom Brady

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' objective on defense is clear: Hit Tom Brady.

Everybody else is taking shots at the 40-year-old legend, and the Jets want to join the hit parade. Brady has been hit 32 times in five games, including 16 sacks -- alarmingly high numbers for the New England Patriots quarterback.

"Just me, personally, I think he's holding the ball a little longer than usual," nose tackle Steve McLendon said on Wednesday. "More teams are just picking up on him, man, playing it closer. Whatever the case may be, he's getting hit and that's just an opportunity for us. We've got to take advantage of that.

"With that being said, man, we've got to hit him also. We've got to keep him off his stride. Everybody knows if he just sits there, he can pick anybody apart because he's that type of elite quarterback. ... We have to apply as much pressure as possible the whole entire game. It will be a 60-minute game between two teams trying to get that top spot in the division."

Brady is banged up, having missed two days of practice this week because of a left-shoulder injury. He vowed to play on Sunday, insisting, "I feel great." But you know he's hurting because Brady is a gym rat, a tireless worker, and he hates being out of the gym, so to speak.

This is a big story in New England, where Brady is considered a local landmark. The Brady battering, coupled with the team's uncharacteristic 3-2 start, has created an undercurrent of worry in the land of Super Bowl championships.

Jets coach Todd Bowles refuses to believe the stats or perception that Brady is vulnerable, saying "some guys have gotten lucky." He hasn't noticed anything different in Brady. He still sees greatness.

"He's having one of the best years he's ever had," Bowles said. "We say this every year and he keeps getting better. I still see the same outstanding football player that I've seen.

"Brady probably will be playing after I'm long retired at the rate he's going," the coach cracked.

From a production standpoint, Brady doesn't seem affected by the pounding. He has completed 68 percent of his passes, with 11 touchdowns and only one interception -- uncanny efficiency for a quarterback under duress.

In terms of the big picture, the hits will have a cumulative impact on Brady, but that's not the concern of the Jets. Their only mission is to beat him on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets' pass rush hasn't instilled much fear in opposing quarterbacks (only seven sacks), but it has been sneaky good -- 32 quarterback hits, according to the team stats.

"The sack numbers aren’t there, but the turnovers are," Bowles said. "And I’ll take turnovers over sacks any day."