Although the Dolphins and Jets don't resume their heated rivalry until Oct. 12 on "Monday Night Football," Miami linebackers Joey Porter and Channing Crowder are in midseason trash-talking form. And first-year Jets coach Rex Ryan has fanned the flames, too.
Both Porter and Crowder took umbrage at recent comments from Patriots and Jets players, as well as Ryan, in which the Dolphins' side felt the insinuation was those teams are overlooking Miami, which actually won the AFC East title last season.
"Oh he's going crazy. He's going absolutely nuts," said Crowder, who signed a three-year extension just before free agency struck last February. "I know it's his first chance to be a head coach, and I know he's excited about life. But I've never played a football game in June in my life. So congratulations to him. He's the OTA Super Bowl winner."
Ryan, who is taller and larger than the 6-2, 250-pound Crowder, actually seemed to challenge the former Gator.
"I don't know this Channing Crowder," Ryan said. "All I know is that he's all tatted up, so I guess I ought to be nervous about him. The other thing is I think he's wrong because I do think you win in June. I think you win with your preparation and all that kind of stuff. If I was younger, I'd probably handle him myself."
Crowder, who has turned into a sure-handed tackler but has yet to make game-turning plays like his predecessor Zach Thomas used to, fired back at Ryan.
"He says he'd take care of me if he was younger?" Crowder told the Miami Herald. "I'd have beat the hell out of that big old joker. Or if he really wants to get retro, my daddy or my uncle could have handled him. Don't get big. Win with preparation? Start watching some tape and learn who your rival is. Come on now."
Ryan, who has the same brash temperament that his father Buddy was known for, counter-punched Crowder's remarks.
"The only thing I can say is, 'Let's see if (Crowder) can top this one: I've walked over tougher guys going to a fight than Channing Crowder,' " Ryan said with a smile.
Clearly, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland wasn't happy with this weeklong media-driven tiff between one of his players and an NFL coach from the same division that they will meet at least twice a season.
"It's about playing football, that's what I know," Ireland told the Sun-Sentinel before a Marlins-Cards game. "It's about playing football. ... That's a clubhouse thing. I'll deal with that myself."
A day later, Crowder declared the feud over.
"'This is over," Crowder chuckled. "I'm done with this victory. I'm going to save the head coach the embarrassment of arguing with an opposing player to the media. We play twice this season, so we'll see who the better team is then."
The fiery Porter, who promised to be more diplomatic than he has been in the past,
"The doubt is over now," said Porter, who was named team MVP along with quarterback Chad Pennington at the annual Dolphins awards banquet. "We proved the AFC East comes through Miami."
The Patriots didn't initiate the ward of words that set off a chain reaction in the AFC East, that credit belongs to Joey Porter and Rex Ryan. Taking exception to reports that oddsmakers have the Patriots listed as the team to beat, the strong personalities of both Porter and Ryan felt the need to stake their own claim.
Ryan, who felt he needed to change the culture in New York, started the ball rolling when he said he wasn't willing to kiss Bill Belichick's rings. The obvious reference was to something else of Belichck's, which couldn't be published. Ryan's goal of setting the bar, challenging his team to back up his tough talk can be viewed as little more than a motivational tool. Although Ryan may believe what he said, tough talk in June is just that, tough talk. As the Dolphins reminded Ryan, you don't win games in June.
Porter has always had an issue with the Patriots. From his days in Pittsburgh, to his arrival in Miami, Porter has been burned by the Patriots before, suffering tough losses in the playoffs to New England. Getting embarrassed in 2007, didn't sit well with Porter who talked tough before getting blown out 49-28 and again 28-7 en route to a 1-15 season.
Crowder has been a short-tempered, player who isn't afraid to display his bravado - at least according to those who covered him at Florida. Omar Kelly of th eSun Sentinel caught Crowder getting an earful from head football man Bill Parcells at the team's minicamp this weekend.
"Bill Parcells gave Channing Crowder a nice talking to at the end of practice," Kelly twittered. "Crowder did a lot of head nodding."
If the Dolphins don't let last season's success go to their head, they may just find a way to make the AFC East a place that's as tough to win games, as it is to win a battle of words.