I must admit I began to buy what the players were saying as the Jets vaulted to a 3-0 start. The rationale went something like this: in 2008 the grumpy robot Eric Mangini sterilized them. He wouldn't let them talk, he wouldn't let them strut. In 2009 Rex Ryan changed the climate. Big talkin' Rex let guys like S Kerry Rhodes and LB Bart Scott be themselves. And it translated to wins.
Well, after the first loss to Miami on a Monday night, NT Kris Jenkins got it right when he conceded the Jets received a big dose of "shut up." Now after a second loss to Miami that dropped the Jets to 4-4, which was preceded by an entire week of trash talking, it's time for the Jets to finally heed the words of Conan the Destroyer, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the 1984 film of the same name, "Enough talk!!"
I've never been a big fan of big talking. The New England Patriots and their tight-lipped head coach managed to win three Super Bowls without giving us a headache. The Jets talk like they've been the #1 ranked defense in NFL for five years running. Rhodes has provided more cool quotes than big plays: zero. The overrated safety has NO sacks, NO interceptions, and NO forced fumbles.
The Jets defense was terrific against the Dolphins, backing up their talk by totally shutting down the Wildcat. But that's besides the point. When you talk so much trash and lose, you look silly. 4-4 is 4-4. Please keep quiet until you've accomplished something. And even then, humble is more impressive than loud.
Some more observations:
2) I've probably dedicated more time to analyzing the Jets' running game than any other aspect of the team. When the rushing attack was mediocre through the first five weeks, OC Brian Schottenheimer was smart to stick with it, even if he seemed reluctant at times to call multiple consecutive running plays. That's no longer an issue. The Jets run, run, and run. Finally, the offense is establishing an identity upon which to build success for rookie QB Mark Sanchez.
The elite running teams are capable of moving the ball on the ground even when the opponent knows it's coming. The Jets now look like they want to become one of those teams. RBs Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene are capable of handling it. Establishing an identity is so important for the players, especially the offensive linemen. The more the Jets pound defenses the more opportunities Sanchez will get in the passing game. Run, Jets, Run!
3) The defense rediscovered its pass rush against the Dolphins with six sacks and consistent pressure on QB Chad Henne. The one aspect that's still missing is turnovers. The Jets won't become an elite defense until they force more turnovers—and that will happen with more hits and pressures on the QB.
4) The point totals you see in the standings are misleading in terms of defensive dominance. The Jets have given up 134 points and 15 touchdowns through 8 games. That's pretty good. But consider that of the 15 touchdowns, six have been scored by the opposing teams' defenses and special teams. That's 40% of the touchdowns scored against the Jets this season! Incredible! So Rex Ryan's defense actually has only let up 9 TDs in 8 games. That's excellent.
5) Which leads us… to a memory I must share. Watching the Dolphins' Ted Ginn run the length of the field twice, sandwiched around Jason Taylor's fumble return, brought back images of the 2000 season finale against the Ravens. In that game, which the Jets needed to win to secure a playoff berth, head coach Al Groh's club outgained the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens 524 to 142 yards to no avail. The Ravens won the game 34-20 thanks to three return touchdowns. Jermaine Lewis returned two punts for TDs and Chris McAlister returned a Vinny Testaverde INT 98 yards to pay dirt. Ah, memories.