Rhetorical, theoretical, honestly curious question here: When’s the last time a Jets team seemed this badass? We don’t mean this good, though there’s always that potential. (Remember, in their entire franchise history, the Jets have only won more than eleven games once.) We mean a team this legitimately cocksure. Even in the tough-guy Bill Parcells days, Jets games took on the personality of their coach, which was certainly alpha-male, Madden-endorsed slobber-knocking enough, but it felt less like a team mood than Parcells playing out his personal issues on the field. It’s early, but this is a different vibe.
Basically, Rex Ryan and the Jets yammered controversially all week — and in the world of sports, a yammering controversy means “one overblown Ryan quote and a guy tweeting” — and then spent Sunday afternoon smashing the Bill Belichick and the Patriots in the face. Sure, the Jets’ win over the Patriots yesterday was anything but a blowout, and this Patriots team clearly has some major issues (they didn’t look right against the Bills last week, either). But the Jets defense pushed around the Patriots all day, outmuscling them in a way we haven’t seen, really, since the Giants beat them in the Super Bowl almost two years ago. The Jets were tougher, meaner, and, for the first time, blessedly free of the psychodrama that has infected the Jets-Patriots rivalry for the last few years.
In a way, you can argue Ryan has finally exorcised the demon of the Parcells family tree. All the stupid Parcells-Belichick-Mangini silliness, the SpyGate, the back-stabbing, the awkward midfield handshakes … Rex Ryan, the new guy, the one with no horse in this race, just showed up with his rookie quarterback and his relentless blitz packages and blew Tom Brady and Belichick off the field. The score was close, and Brady and company even had a chance late … but there was never any doubt who was in control of the game.
It feels like the Jets under Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez have no connection to anything we’ve gotten used to. They feel badass. They feel electric. It’s a long season. But win or lose, this is going to be fun to watch.
And even if they’re not, even if the Jets fall apart and don’t win another game this season, you can just watch Belichick mope his way off the field yesterday, over and over, on an endless loop. No one loses more petulantly. He’s the best.