New York Jets Are NFL's Cream of the Crop, Just Ask Rex Ryan

Carl D. CarlucciCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11:  Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings is tackled on a kick return by the New York Jets at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 11, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

It was implicit in the man's post-game press conference. "We're right on schedule. We want to have the best record in the National Football League at the end of the season, and we're right on pace."

Rex Ryan, usually a bit bolder, though perhaps humbled by the tough fight the Minnesota Vikings had just put up against his gang, all but said that the New York Jets were the best team in the NFL.

Ryan believes it. The team believes it. And now Jets fans believe it.

That the rest of the NFL hasn't caught on just yet is negligible. The three things listed above are all you need to start something special.

The funny thing is the Jets started this last season.

Going back to Week 17 of last season against the Cincinnati Bengals, when the Jets stomped on them 37-0, Rex Ryan's Jets are 7-2 in games that count (not the preseason), including the playoffs. In that span they have played seven playoff teams from last year and have a 5-2 record in those games.

Evidence that this New York Jets team is walking the walk under Rex Ryan is staring the NFL in the face.

The most important element in this stretch of success has been the play of Mark Sanchez. Again starting with the Week 17 Bengals game from last season, Sanchez has thrown 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions.

Monday night was Sanchez's ultimate test. While he didn't pass with flying colors, he did pass. The rap on him and the Jets so far has been that they won't be able to beat stronger teams in a playoff type atmosphere because Sanchez would be a weakness. It's time for his detractors to wake up because he's been winning these types of games week in and week out. On Monday, the pretty boy, Southern California quarterback did it in the harsh elements of northern New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the Jets ground and pound assault has proved that the loss of Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca were greatly overstated by those in the media.

Week 4 at Buffalo the Jets racked up 273 yards rushing. Last night the team ran for 155 yards against a Vikings defense that hasn't allowed a team to run for 150 yards against them in 51 games!

Nothing more can be said about LaDainian Tomlinson that hasn't been said. Who needs some recognition is first-year starter, Matt Slauson, who replaced Alan Faneca. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. And Slauson is filling them wonderfully.

In the trench warfare against Jared Allen and the Williams Wall, the Jets offensive line was clearly the victor. Part of that was because of D'Brickashaw Ferguson, but Slauson's play allowed Ferguson to focus on Allen and eliminate him. Early miscues by Slauson in the preseason and first few weeks of the regular season had Ferguson trying to compensate for Slauson's mistakes, leading to breakdowns in pass protection.

The Jets do not play poorly in any one facet of the game. Including special teams. For all the fuss over trading away Leon Washington, Brad Smith has stepped in to lead the Jets Wildcat offense to a new level and to return kickoffs.

They are protecting their quarterback (just seven sacks allowed all year) and winning the turnover battle (their plus-11 turnover ratio through five games is tops in the NFL).

All of this adds up to a 4-1 record, tied with the Raven, Bears and Falcons for best record in the NFL, and a league best plus-54 point differential, meaning the Jets are winning by 10.8 points a game. Last year's Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints won by a margin of 10.6 points a game last season.

Surely the loss to the Ravens stands as evidence against the assertion that the Jets are the best team in the NFL. After all, the Ravens are also 4-1 and they have beaten the Jets.

It is a concession that must be made. This is nothing but an opinion. The Ravens can certainly stake a claim in this designation, as can the Falcons.

However, it seems that, barring injury, the Jets can only improve from this point on. Last night was Santonio Holmes' first game back, Sanchez will only continue to learn and improve and Darrelle Revis is not healthy yet.

That's not to say the Jets don't have questions they need to answer. That redzone performance was abysmal last night, the pass defense is still extremely leaky, it is yet to be seen if Tomlinson can avoid injury and keep playing at this level, Revis' hamstring might never get healthy and the AFC offers up some stiff competition, especially up North.

But the New York Jets and their fans get the feeling that they can beat anybody in this league. Awhile back I wrote, "did anybody stop to think what would happen if this roster—which, at full strength, features 13 former first round picks in the starting lineup—came together under this slovenly, loudmouthed, defensive savant?"

Think back to the opening scene in HBO's Hard Knocks when Rex Ryan tells his guys, "If we play at our best we will beat every team in this league playing at their best...we know we're better than you, we don't care if you know it or not, we don't care if you give us your best game, we're going to give you our best game and we're going to beat the f**k out of you. How's that? Let's go get it."

Watching this team, you can't help but think that here is a man and a team that are doing exactly what they've been telling everybody they'd do all along: be the best team in the NFL.