Emboldened by a strong defensive performance in the teams' Week 2 meeting, the Jets don't see the New England Patriots' star as a football superhero.
"I'm not treating him like Superman," defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said Wednesday. "He's Tom Brady; I'm Sheldon Richardson. He's a name. He's a figure, a franchise player. I'm trying to get after him, simple as that. No one really treats him like [Superman] around here. I think he's the complete opposite of that."
Asked to name the opposite of Superman, the confident Jets rookie smiled and said, "I'd rather not say it."
As much as the Jets respect Brady, who has an 18-4 career record against them, they aren't genuflecting. They frustrated Brady last month in Foxborough, Mass., holding him to one of the worst statistical days of his career -- 19-for-39 for 185 yards and one touchdown on a busted coverage. At times, Brady was visibly upset.
The Patriots held on for a 13-10 win, but the storyline from the game was how Brady and his patchwork receiving corps lacked cohesion.
The Jets find that amusing. Clearly, they feel their defense didn't get enough credit.
"It had nothing to do with us, I understand, we were just out there," coach Rex Ryan said with a heavy dose of sarcasm. "Certainly, that was well-reported and all that. We'll get to see. We'll get to see if some of those issues exist this week."
Added Richardson of Brady: "He was out there running plays against no one, I guess."
The Jets have fielded a strong defense in Ryan's four-plus seasons as the coach -- they're currently ranked No. 2 in total defense -- but that hasn't translated into much success against their top nemesis. Ryan is 3-7 against the Patriots, having lost five in a row. Even though the Jets have frustrated Brady at times, they haven't been able to force him into costly mistakes. In fact, he has gone 163 passes without an interception against them.
Ryan was jokingly asked whether he'd like to treat Brady like a vampire, driving a stake through his heart. The coach laughed.
"I thought about doing all that stuff, but the league would fine me," he said. "I've been fined enough by the league, so I'll pass on that."
There are as many questions about Brady's receiving corps as there were in Week 2. Tight end Rob Gronkowski still hasn't played. Danny Amendola suffered a head injury Sunday and didn't practice Wednesday. And rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson have combined for nine dropped passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"He doesn't have his best receiver, which is his tight end," Richardson said. "And he's not throwing for 20,000 yards like he has in other years."
True, Brady's stats are modest compared to past seasons, but the Patriots are 5-1, with a chance to sweep the series and create a three-game gap with the Jets.
Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets' best defensive player, is 0-5 lifetime against Brady. Frustrated?
"It's frustrating a lot," he said. "The last two years, I've been playing these guys around my birthday [Oct. 22], and I keep having a bad birthday. Tom Brady keeps making it bad for me."