Near the end of last week's series of professional wrestling promos masquerading as coach's press conferences, Rex Ryan said that he thought the Patriots were being sarcastic when they called the Jets a great team during their own chats with the media.
We found out why he thought they were being sarcastic on Monday night. The Jets weren't wearing throwback jerseys from the Rich Kotite era, but they played like they were still the league's biggest laughingstock in a totally embarassing, completely shameful 45-3 loss to the Patriots. It would take someone with the sarcastic wit of a young David Letterman to refer to this Jets team as great. Heck, mediocre would be a stretch for anyone with the slightest relationship to reality.
This wasn't the classic matchup that everyone had been hyping up since Thanksgiving. It wasn't even a competitive game. The Patriots scored on their first four possessions, the Jets came out looking totally discombobulated on both sides of the ball and showed nothing to make you think there would be a different outcome if you played this game 100 times.
Running through all the desultory performances would take almost as long as it did to play the game and it would be about five times as boring. If you didn't get a chance to see it, consider yourself the recipient of a Chanukah miracle. If you did, you know that there isn't one player on the team worth singling out for doing something positive because there wasn't a positive moment after the kickoff.
So we'll just turn our attention to Ryan, who has to bear a fair amount of culpability for what happened on Monday night. The Jets came out looking totally unprepared for what the Patriots were going to do on offense and defense. The league's worst pass defense made Mark Sanchez look like he was back in high school and Ryan's beloved defense played like the only video they watched all week featured kittens dressed in lederhosen on YouTube. Ryan botched an early challenge, made an indefensible choice to try a 53-yard field goal and, to make a long story short, spent the evening getting his rear end handed to him by the guy whose rings he said he wouldn't kiss when he got the Jets job.
All of that is on Ryan because these problems have festered for weeks with no improvement and no apparent accountability for what was going wrong. Yes, the Jets were winning and getting the win is paramount in the NFL. But a coach has to be more than a cheerleader and figurehead. He has to be able to get his team to rise to the occasion in games like this one, no matter the difficulty of the circumstances.
He couldn't do that and that's why he and his team will deserve every brickbat thrown in their direction this week. The Patriots and Jets were each given a chance to prove their worthiness as part of the discussion for elite teams in the league and only one of them showed up. The Patriots played like they belonged in such rarified air and played with an edge that made it clear they got this was more than just another game.
Ryan talked about how big a game this was after spending his whole tenure talking about how the Jets were going to be in the butt-kicking business. His team responded by soiling their bed and then rolling around in it. Everyone who thought the Jets were frauds based on their close wins and late saves against bad teams got all the evidence they needed to prove their point. The Jets can say whatever they want, but it's going to take six or seven more wins to make anyone believe in them again.
You're free to draw your own conclusions about what that says about this team, but you're sure to hear some people breaking out the evergreen "Same Old Jets" moniker in the next few days. That's not fair, though. Those old Jets never got your hopes up quite this high before kicking you in the groin.