They have spent much of the week talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. Which would be fine, were the words interesting or inspiring. By now, however, anything uttered by members of the New York Jets organization can only be interpreted as the inane, nonsensical blatherings of jealous dolts.
That's how the Jets come off, and as a native New Yorker who grew up as a diehard Freeman McNeil fan and who now lives outside of the Big Apple, I can only ask one small favor of my boyhood team.
Please shut up.
Seriously, stop talking. Stop it. No more words. No more boasts. No more Muhammad Ali-like pronouncements of world domination.
Unless I'm missing something, the last time the Jets and Patriots played, the final score was 45-3. Unless I'm missing something, the Jets didn't score the 45. Unless I'm missing something, New England's dazzling running back, Danny Woodhead, is only New England's dazzling running back because, ahem, Rex Ryan cut him. For, ahem-ahem, David Clowney. Unless I'm missing something, the Jets haven't won a division title since 2002. Unless I'm missing something, the Jets haven't appeared in a Super Bowl since 1969.
None of this means New York's players and coaches can't be confident. An 11-5 season earns one that right and, though it seems long ago enough to have happened during the Nuu Faaola Era, the Jets did actually beat the Patriots earlier this season. They boast the game's best cornerback in Darrelle Revis, a superb trio of receivers in Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, a fantastic offensive line, a Grade-A tight end in Dustin Keller and, in Mark Sanchez, an up-and-coming quarterback.
But the talking. The damn talking.
When I first heard of Antonio Cromartie, New York's other cornerback, calling Tom Brady an "a------" to the media, I neither laughed nor cringed. I shrugged, because, well, who cares what Antonio Cromartie thinks of Tom Brady? He's an OK NFL cornerback who routinely gets devoured on slants and whose inconsistent play has been maddening to watch. His words are less Joe Namath, more Freddie Mitchell, the wackadoo former Eagles receiver who talked much smack about the Patriots before Super Bowl XXXIX -- then wound up embarrassing himself by playing terribly.
Ryan, meanwhile, is no better. At first, when the Hard Knocks cameras were rolling and the will-Revis-report-to-camp? drama was in full bloom, his colorful proclamations filled the void of an otherwise drab preseason. But as the weeks have passed, Ryan reminds me not of a great head football coach, but of his father, Buddy, during his two seasons leading the Arizona Cardinals. When Buddy Ryan arrived in Tempe in 1994, he greeted the media with "You've got a winner in town." Yet as the overmatched, outmaneuvered Cardinals defenses were shredded, that winner was quickly shut up and showed the exit.
Rex Ryan isn't near that point in his career -- the Jets have had excellent back-to-back seasons, and they've recaptured much of New York. But when a coach babbles and babbles and babbles, inevitably players begin to wonder whether this is about winning, or ego.
Here's the answer, free of charge: Ego.