The NFL season kicked off Wednesday night with a very important lesson.
What's past isn't always prologue, something the Cowboys proved by being the tougher team mentally and physically in the key stretches of their 24-17 win over the Giants. The Cowboys are the team that messes the bed when things get tight and the Giants are the ones who thrive, or so everyone thought right up until the opposite played out at the Meadowlands.
It's a good lesson for everyone who has already decided that the Jets have no real reason to even show up this season because of what went down in preseason and how their 2011 season ended. Conviction on this front is laughably strong despite the fact that every NFL season finds at least one universally accepted truth proven incorrect on a grand scale.
Rex Ryan is pretty tired of that kind of talk. He made his point on Thursday while also calling for an end to references to the Jets as a circus.
"Well I just think we’re a better football team than people give us credit for," Ryan said on Thursday. "Also think our organization is a lot better than people give us credit for. The circus thing is kind of a little old for me."
Ryan went on to say he thinks this is an "outstanding" team, in part because of how good the team has been in the past three years. And that's where the whole thing goes off the rails.
Making a point that people are writing the story of the Jets before it plays out is both sound and rational. Going on to say that you think the team's going to be great because they went to two AFC title games in 2009 and 2010 is neither.
Either the past, including all the baggage, matters or it doesn't and every season starts with a blank slate waiting to be filled in over 16 weeks of play. Ryan can't have things both ways and part of the reason the team is seen as a circus is that they consistently and constantly try to eat their cake and have it too.
Say no to "Hard Knocks," but yes to ESPN setting up a bureau at training camp. Claim Wayne Hunter is a great right tackle, then trade him away at the first possible moment. Insist Tim Tebow is a backup quarterback and simultaneously wink while saying that there's no telling how much he'll play.
These things don't happen in a vacuum. They feed the notion that the Jets are an undisciplined organization that doesn't plan for more than the next five minutes, which puts them in stark contrast with the teams that generally wind up playing for championships.
If Ryan and the Jets want to put an end to the circus, they should stop taking a swing at every pitch and let a few go by with little more than a generic comment that's really the same as saying no comment. That's not Ryan's way and that's fine because, at the end of the day, people actually do like circuses.
As for being better than popular opinion, that's an easy one to fix. Just win, baby, and the public will come around.