Ellis has been a momentum-changer in the Jets-Pats rivalry. In the last three seasons he had five sacks against New England, unusually high for a nominal 3--4 defensive end. But he's much more than that. In the playoff game Ellis lined up 13 times as an end in the 3--4, 10 times as the nose in the 3--4, eight times as a tackle in a four-man line, once as an end in a 4--3 and, when the Jets went to a one- or two-man line, 10 snaps at various positions there. His two-sack, five-tackle performance last January in Foxborough, Pettine said, "was the best game in the two years I'd coached him." In short, Ellis did it all. He's the epitome of today's versatile defensive front man.
And in August he signed a one-year deal to play for the Patriots. He's going to the enemy. "The fact that he chose the Patriots," Ryan said when Ellis signed his free-agent deal, "there's no way I'm going to wish him well. There's no chance of that."
"I don't know what his trigger is," said Mangini, who coached Ellis with the Jets, "but I do know his best games were against New England. I'd bet that goes in reverse now—his best games will be against the Jets."
Said Pettine, "You know what his nickname was here? 'Patriot-killer.'"
Last week Ellis, who was working his way back from off-season hip surgery, was still getting used to life on the other side of the Iron Curtain. The Jets are Hard Knocks, the Patriots Pravda. "You feel the difference when you walk in the building," he said. "You feel the difference when you drive up to the building. It's strictly football here."
Yes, the Jets do it differently. They love the back pages, and Rex is bigger than life. But ideas are king, and they don't care where they come from.
"Juan and Renaldo are the custodians in our building," Pettine said. "And if they've got an idea how to get to the quarterback, we're all ears."
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