A running joke of Patrick Ewing's career was his annual pronouncement that the Knicks were the better team than the one that had just sent them packing from the NBA playoffs. No matter how many times it happened, Ewing and the Knicks never learned the lessons from their defeats and just kept plowing ahead without making the necessary corrections to stop them from happening again.
The Jets sounded a lot like those Knicks teams after they lost to the Dolphins on a Monday night earlier this month. Moments after Miami had run the ball down his throat to seal a 31-27 win, Jets linebacker Calvin Pace was telling reporters that the Wildcat offensive formation was "nonsense" and said he couldn't respect a team playing that way. It was almost surreal to hear him say that, and the best sign yet that the Jets spent too much time looking in funhouse mirrors that provided unreliable reflections of the truth.
The early hallmark of the Rex Ryan era has been a fondness for talking big with varying results once the team took the field. That's been met with more than a little bit of mockery from critics who see Ryan's bravado as a replica of his father's right down to their teams failing to win games when it mattered. That's why there was still so much skepticism after a 3-0 start, even before the offense and defense took turns melting down over three straight losses.
Pace's take on the Dolphins offense made it easier to be a seller of the Jets' chances in the 2009 season. After all, if a team could run all over you with a nonsense offense, what chance did you stand when a "real" offense came calling?
Sunday provides the chance for the Jets to change that script. If they can stuff the Dolphins offense at the Meadowlands during Sunday's rematch en route to a win, they'll have a 5-3 record and be in perfect position to make a playoff push in the second half. More than that, though, they'll prove that they aren't too proud to be honest with themselves and learn from what they've done wrong in the past.
The Jets have answered complaints about their big talking by saying that they're confident in their talent. Continually allowing the same things to beat you isn't a sign of a weakness as much as it is a sign of arrogance. Are the Jets arrogant? Sunday will give us a pretty good answer to that question.