2011 NFL Playoffs: Rex Ryan's New York Jets and the Loudest Secret in Football

David MitchellCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2011

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Braylon Edwards #17 and Santonio Holmes #10 of the New York Jets celebrate on their way to defeating the New England Patriots 28 to 21 victory over the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Jets are good—and they want you to know it.

Speak softly and carry a big stick? Screw that. What good is being a freight train if you can’t sound the whistle every once in a while?

These Jets want to fly.

Winning isn’t good enough for them, they want to walk you through every step of the procedure and remind you what happened in the end.

Don’t like it? Tough. This team cares about one thing and it certainly isn’t you.

If it were trying to win a popularity contest, its head coach wouldn’t be a profane egomaniac with a big mouth.

Yet for all the boisterousness and flamboyance, it has managed to remain something few could have imagined possible.

A secret.

Perhaps it’s the mediocre quarterback or the aging running back, the checkered past of the receiving corps or the egotism of the head coach.

Who knows? Whatever the case, this team has managed in consecutive seasons to come within one win of playing for a Super Bowl and is yet to be favored in a single matchup.

When the team lines up to face the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Sunday, it will, yet again, be playing against the spread.

Ask Jets linebacker Bart Scott how he feels about that. Word is he can’t wait.

And I ask myself how we have managed to ignore this team? Not in press conferences, but on the field where it really matters.

Fact is this is a team many thought to be a Super Bowl favorite coming into this season.

After an unpredictable finish a season ago — a respectable loss to the eventual Super Bowl runners-up in the AFC Championship — Rex Ryan’s Jets were the sexy pick for 2010.

It had a capable quarterback under center, talented wide receivers, and one of the best corner backs in the game.

All the Jets did in the regular season was win nine of its first 11 games, finish with 11 wins and one of the stingiest defenses in all of football.

Add in a resurgent running back and you’ve got to figure this is one of the best teams in the league, right? Or, at the very least, comparable to the inconsistent Colts and, in many ways, even the Patriots.

But not this team. Not these attention-seeking children. With these guys we smile and shake our heads, humor them with a pat on the back and an apology to our neighbors.

“Oh, those are just the Jets,” we say, “always showing off.”

Then we place our big money on the well-worn, reliable clubs.

No way those loudmouths can outplay Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Bill Belichick or God knows who else.

But somehow, these loudmouths have found belief where no one else can. Somehow, despite the team’s glaring fallacies, it believes the result has already been written.

With a win in hostile Pittsburgh on Sunday, New York will have provided in consecutive weeks on the road the knock-out punch for the past decade’s three best franchises — the Colts, Patriots and Steelers — which have won six of the past nine Super Bowls and participated in each of the previous seven.

They got your attention yet?