After the New York Jets’ heart-stopping victory over the Indianapolis Colts during Wild Card weekend, head coach Rex Ryan breathed a huge sigh of relief because he finally vanquished his personal “white whale,” Peyton Manning.
And true to his character, Ryan, still in the afterglow of his most satisfying victory, proceeded to resume a one-sided war of words with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, who the Jets will face this weekend in Gillette Stadium.
In a span of less than a week, Ryan went from pontificating that Brady only thinks he’s as studious as Peyton Manning to boldly declaring the upcoming AFC divisional playoff game is about “Bill Belichick versus Rex Ryan.”
Now several analysts have given Ryan a pass for employing this seemingly brilliant stratagem of deflecting attention away from his team, but the fact remains the Patriots have owned the Jets in New England the past two years.
New York is 0-2 at Gillette Stadium in the Rex Ryan era and the games weren’t close to being competitive in any way, shape or form.
At Foxborough, Gang Green was outscored 76-17, out-gained 815-627 and turned the ball over a grand total of eight times. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have only one turnover in their last two home games against the Jets.
Who will win Sunday afternoon's game in Foxborough?
However, the most salient difference between the Jets and the Patriots was at the quarterback position, where Tom Brady thoroughly outplayed and out-shined second-year signal caller Mark Sanchez.
Against the Patriots on the road, Sanchez is an abysmal 25 for 54 (46.3 percent) for 300 yards with one touchdown and eight interceptions. Furthermore, Sanchez’s quarterback rating in the two contests were 37.1 and 27.8 respectively.
Meanwhile, Brady, the leading candidate for this season’s MVP award, has been absolutely sterling against the Jets within the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium. In fact, Brady toyed with the vaunted Jets’ defense like no other quarterback has done in the league.
Brady completed an astonishing 70.0 percent of his passes (49 for 70) for 636 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions, which all added up to quarterback ratings of 98.6 and 148.9, respectively, in the aforementioned games.
All this from a quarterback who Ryan believes doesn't study as diligently as Peyton Manning. If this is the case then what does Ryan’s subtle dig say about his team’s ability to stop Brady?
Instead, what Ryan truly needs to comprehend is empty rhetoric doesn’t pay the bills in the National Football League.
What wins football games are a turnover-free offense, an opportunistic defense and a quarterback up to the task of playing at his best when the stakes are the highest.
Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots trounced the Jets in all three of these phases the last two times they faced each other up north.
In addition, the Patriots have gone 16-0 in the regular season at home the last two years, including the 31-14 beating and 45-3 shellacking they laid on their heated division rivals.
These are the demons Gang Green must exorcise to go to their second consecutive AFC Championship Game.
And if Rex Ryan manages to pull off this exorcism, it may propel the New York Jets to their first Super Bowl in over 40 years.
Then he can talk all he wants.