Sometimes, football seems so easy, right? Now that the NFL has resumed operations players, owners, coaches, fans, media, can all travel down that hard working path that is the NFL season..
The prime directive? To win the Super Bowl. Unless you are Rex Ryan, in which case the goal is apparently to stay on the front pages, be heard in the opening segments of SportsCenter, and beat the New England Patriots.
Ryan is one of the better coaches the NFL has to offer. The New York Jets, regardless of whether you like, love, hate, or despise them, are a very good football team. The short list of top Super Bowl contenders this season? Jets, Steelers, Patriots, Eagles, Packers. Until a few seasons ago the Jets were an afterthought.
It doesn’t matter what one thinks about Ryan and the Jets. They are a solid team. The Jets feature a successful young quarterback in Mark Sanchez, a big play receiver in Santonio Holmes, and a hard-hitting and well-coached defense, anchored by two of the leagues best cover corners in Darrell Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
The last two AFC title games have featured the Jets and the last three seasons, they’ve gone 9-7, 9-7, and 10-6. The Jets are no doubt a serious contender, able to beat any opponent any week of the season. But with a shortened training camp due to the lockout, these guys need to get ready & work as a team faster to make the same run they have been making.
There’s a problem though — the New England Patriots. This is where it gets strange because when another team is a problem it’s usually because they can’t be beat. And Rex loves to find ways to focus his time, energy, and mouth on the Patriots.
For years, the Boston Red Sox had a two-headed monster that they were fighting: an inability to win a World Series and a New York rival that always seemed to have their number. In 2004 they cut off both heads, beating the Yankees in the ALCS and then sweeping St. Louis in the World Series.
The Jets already know how to beat New England. Last season the Jets took two of three from the Pats including a demoralizing defeat handed to the Pats in Foxboro in the playoffs. The Patriots should be in the rearview mirror for the Jets now, it’s all about the Super Bowl right?
Wrong, Rex Ryan has an odd obsession with New England and he just can’t stop talking about them. Every press conference seems to be punctuated with a bitter speech about how much better the Jets are than the Patriots. Last year in the run-up to a divisional playoff game in New England, he declared the game the most important game in Jets history. Wouldn’t that be Super Bowl III?
The Jets won 28-21 and it wasn’t really that close. The problem, of course, is that the Jets followed up that win with a stinker in the AFC title game, losing to the Steelers after falling behind 24-3 in the first half. They left their blood, sweat, and tears in Foxboro and played with their heart at Heinz Field. But heart was not enough.
It’s probably hard for a team to show up and play as if their season is on the line when they’ve just won the biggest game in team history. The goal is the Super Bowl and the problem with Ryan’s irrational and constant obsession with the Patriots is that the Jets will never be awarded a Super Bowl ring for beating New England.
In a recent press conference, Ryan continued his infinite stream of New England comedy.
“I think we have to find somebody out there to beat New England besides us, I think that would help,” Ryan said. “Anybody out there that wants to sign up for it? Are you good enough as a team to beat the New England Patriots? Forget about us, are you good enough to go out and beat the New England Patriots? I’m challenging the league.”
Rex Ryan has two signature traits. One is running his mouth, and the other is fielding very good football teams. One used to be his time for shutting down a buffet. At some point one of those traits may begin to take away form the other. Everything Ryan says at this point is something he’s said already in some form. He is going into more reruns than Sinfeld.
Two weeks ago, Ryan claimed the Jets team he has for the upcoming 2011 season is his best team ever. Something he’s claimed in each of the last two seasons, just like he’s claimed they would win the Super Bowl. How can one make that claim when all the players had yet to be signed or known? This 2011 team has yet to play in a game together for Rex to determine if they are better than last year. But that is Rex Ryan.
Sean Ellis recently signed with the Patriots after being dropped by Gang Green. That move did not sit too well with Rex. It just added more fuel to an ever burning bonfire. Ellis is determined to let the Jets know how wrong the move was on their part.
Confidence is nice. Showing your team that you believe in them is good too. Eventually, those words become somewhat meaningless if there’s no follow through.
Stop worrying about New England, the rest of the league, and stop telling everyone how good you are and how good your team is Rex. Show a better poker face instead of letting your ego write checks your butt can’t cash. If you want people to believe you, you don’t need to say anything; you just need to win.