There will be no back-and-forth trash talking ahead of the AFC Championship Game. The Patriots will ensure anything that comes out before Sunday’s tilt will be one-sided. A day after teammates refused to respond to Jalen Ramsey “predicting” a Super Bowl win for the Jags at a fan event, Tom Brady continued to reiterate The Patriot Way tone. Brady said: “It’s how you play, not what you say”. Brady dismissing bulletin-board material is a useful in-the-moment tactic, considering the Pats are known to use all motivation they can. Bill Belichick famously read his team the Philadelphia Eagles’ planned parade route before Super Bowl XXXIX. If you provide the trash talk, the Pats will use it. They won’t, however, respond publicly in kind. Brady went on to heap praise on the Jaguars’ swarming defense: “There is not a lot of time for the quarterback to throw. I think the whole secondary knows it. The linebackers know it. They’re aggressive. They take chances. They get a lot of turnovers … [QB] is under pressure all day”. Brady’s compliments heading into the championship tilt are warranted. The Jags owned the No. 1 ranked pass defense, No. 2 scoring defense, No. 2 in yards given up per game, second in sacks, and fourth in third-down percentage in 2017. There’s no question the Jags own a Super Bowl-caliber defense. Brady’s few playoff disappointments have come versus teams that could get pressure in his face with four rushers — Giants, Broncos, Ravens, while playing sticky coverage on the backend. The Jags’ most talented player, Ramsey, received high praise from Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater on Monday: “The good Lord made that guy, and he said, ‘Let there be corner.’ And there he is,” Slater said.
Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette was uninjured after being involved in a minor car crash. Fournette’s car was rear-ended, but he managed to drive home. The incident comes as the Jaguars prepare to play the Patriots in their first appearance in the AFC Championship Game since the 1999 season. In his first season out of LSU, Fournette established himself as one of the year’s most dynamic young runners in helping Jacksonville diversify their offensive attack en route to the AFC South title. Fournette finished second in rookie rushing with 1,090 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had 302 receiving yards. He played a big role in Sunday’s 45-42 Divisional Round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, rushing for 109 yards and three touchdowns. A minor car accident shouldn’t slow him down a bit in the run up to this week’s showdown with the Patriots.
After this weekend’s defeat at the hands of the Jaguars, some Steelers minority owners are pushing for the team to fire coach Mike Tomlin. This group of 13 limited partners has no authority over the management of the team, but they “have a pipeline” to main owner Art Rooney and they intend to make their case. It’s unlikely that this baker’s dozen of shareholders can push out Tomlin by themselves, but they could theoretically influence Rooney to make a move if he is giving any thought to making a change. It’s not clear if that is on Rooney’s radar, even after the disappointing loss to Jacksonville.