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the rookies

A Star Is Born! (And We’re Not Talking About Sanchez. Though Him Too.)

No matter how hard you flap, Mark, you can't fly.

At the end of the Jets' deeply impressive 24–7 road win over the Texans yesterday, the CBS broadcasters proclaimed it a "brilliant debut win for rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez." There was then a beat. "And while we're at it, don't forget about the debut of coach Rex Ryan." Yes. Don't forget about him. Or Bart Scott. Or Darrelle Revis. Or Kris Jenkins. But mostly: Don't forget about Rex Ryan and his filthy, inspirational mouth.

Everyone is talking about Mark Sanchez this morning, and they should be: Other than a groaner of an interception in the fourth quarter — and the Jets probably shouldn't have been throwing downfield at that point anyway — he looked poised, composed, and lithe. He has a pocket presence that belies his rookie status. Of course, it helps when you have an offensive line protecting you as well as the Jets' did yesterday. All told, it was an above-average performance, and all the Jets could have possibly hoped for. Now the tabs are screaming "A STAR IS BORN!" and lapping up the "Joe Namath gave him a talk before the game!" stories like mother's milk. Such is Namath's ongoing mystique, though hopefully Sanchez doesn't listen too closely; Sanchez's 84.3 quarterback rating yesterday was higher than Namath ever posted in a single season of his career.

No matter: The real star yesterday was Ryan, who had his defense swarming, snarling, and drooling. The Jets defense made the Texans, a team many observers had pegged as a sleeper Super Bowl pick, offensively incompetent. They were bigger, tougher, and angrier.

The Jets were thanking Ryan for that in hilarious terms.

[T]he entire team got [a pregame speech] from Rex Ryan, who delivered an old-school, we're-gonna-kick-their-butt speech in which he questioned the Texans' toughness, according to players. It included locker-room language that, um, can't be printed in a family newspaper. It was Rex-rated.

"It's kind of hard to put into words ... but we need to call the NFLPA and put him on the banned-substances list because what he said was performance enhancing," nose tackle Kris Jenkins said.

Everyone's talking about the handsome quarterback, but they should probably be paying attention to the fat coach. He's a walking PED! We typically question the value of pregame speeches not made in a fictional fashion by Al Pacino; it just seems strange that a tubby man talking loudly would somehow inspire one group of large millionaires to tackle another group of large millionaires with extra intensity. But clearly something worked.

And one game in, the Jets season suddenly looks far different than anyone expected it to. Until the Patriots come to town next week, anyway.

Photo: Getty Images