â†µJets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins drew some snickers when he claimed this game was the equivalent of a Super Bowl for his team, but, even if that's a bit of a stretch, it's quickly vaulted the match-up to at least a spotlight game for this week. And, with a win, the Jets can catapult into being considered a legit playoff team worthy of respect. â†µ
â†µOf course, when any opposing player dares air the slightest whiff of confidence in even slowing the Patriots, as Kerry Rhodes has this week, scads of comparisons are made to Anthony Smith's supposed guarantee (really an overblown statement to a reporter that he thought his team could win) of a Steelers win over the Patriots in 2007. Smith, of course, was burned on two deep touchdown passes to Randy Moss, keying a 34-13 Patriots win. And with that, Smith forever became the cautionary tale that dispensers of bulletin board material to the Patriots would live by. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe message was clear: Be good, humble, self-effacing souls and hope for the best on Sunday. The Jets players, however, have certainly bought into head coach Rex Ryan's philosophy of not backing down from enemies and trying to convey intimidation repeatedly through the media. It's a tactic Ryan's players indulged in plenty in his days as defensive coordinator with the Ravens. One can trace it back to the attitude of the punishing defenses his father, Buddy Ryan, commandeered in his time in the NFL. Right now, it looks effective because the Jets pulled a surprise win. â†µâ†µ
â†µIn many ways, the game Sunday is a reflection of the two coaching styles of the men on the sidelines. In response to Jets players talking big, Bill Belichick's Patriots have been predictably reserved and confident. Truly, that's the mark of continued success but also a result of the atmosphere Belichick has created. Meanwhile, brashness is what Ryan wants to see, even if it leads to defeat. They refuse to be pushed around. Belichick's approach has been effective enough for long enough that this game can't be considered a referendum on coaching styles, even if the Patriots should lose. However, should the Jets prevail, there might be a little less full-blown panic every time a player in the league decides to express a little confidence in their chances. â†µâ†µ
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