Six days ago, the Jets were a rebuilding team with a new coach, a rookie quarterback, and a tough opener on the road against a team many observers considered a playoff contender. Now? Now they’re world-beaters, headed by the one guy who isn’t afraid to stick his thumb in Bill Belichick’s eye. The truth has to be somewhere in the middle, right?
That is to say: Can the Jets really beat the Patriots on Sunday? It’s not like anyone was predicting that before the season, but in the hyperfocused petri dish that is the NFL, week one shifted expectations in bizarre directions. The Patriots barely eked out a win at home against Buffalo, the Jets batted around the Texans like a cat playing with a smaller cat, and suddenly, we have a BATTLE. Does a lot of this have to do with the fact that it kind of looks like this division has only one elite-caliber team, and no one wants the AFC East to turn into every division in baseball right now, all wrapped up with a month left to go? Probably. But mostly it’s because everyone wants to see some take down Bill Belichick. And Rex Ryan is the ideal guy to do it.
We’re telling you, if the Jets pull this off Sunday, Rex Ryan is going to be on Letterman within the week. Media folk are praising Ryan’s “swagger,” though if you’ve seen that guy, the last thing he needs to be doing with that body is swaggering.
Can they pull it off? Some think so. We’re less than convinced. Tom Brady had a shake-off-the-rust week, and the Jets, fired up in week one, overpowered a tentative team that most people overrated in the off-season. To take a leap from that to Jets beat the Patriots and take control of the AFC East … it seems a bit much.
All that said: It sure would be nice to see Belichick’s smirk when he congratulates Rex Ryan at midfield for beating him this time, wouldn’t it? We’ll take that over the silly Belichick–Eric Mangini manufactured drama anytime.