This is Rex Ryan’s world now, and everybody had better get braced for it.
Don’t hate him because his team played beautifully.
As Ryan’s New York Jets get set to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday’s AFC championship game, and tape recorders and cameras roll, there will be no larger or louder rock star in sports.
He deserves it.
Ryan and his players bragged and trash-talked the heavily-favored Patriots during the past week, then rose to the occasion Sunday by taking a rollicking 28-21 division-round victory in New England.
Yes, a logical person could call it needless bluster. But it’s the only way this team knows how to play big games, and the Jets do both the boasting and the actual playing very well.
Big words from a big-time team.
After that performance — which upped the Jets’ record to 4-1 in the past two postseasons with Ryan as coach and Mark Sanchez as quarterback — every single bellowing member of the Jets organization deserves their moment.
And we know they will take it.
The power of the Jets’ personality is only one of the things we learned from the past weekend, but it was the most notable.
Some other things we learned from the weekend, which set up a strong final four: Chicago vs. Green Bay in the NFC championship game and the Jets vs. Pittsburgh in the AFC.
This might not be the start of the Patriots’ fall from the elite, because that fall already started a few years ago.
New England wins regular-season games and may always win regular-season games, as long as Bill Belichick is the coach and Tom Brady is the quarterback.
But the Patriots—Super Bowl champions after the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons—are on a six-season non-title drought and are 0-2 in the past two postseasons.
By the way, Brady will turn 34 before next season begins.
Despite the raves for the Jets, the Steelers are well-positioned to win Sunday and make their third Super Bowl trip in six years.
The Jets beat Peyton Manning’s Colts on the road on Jan. 8 and just beat Brady’s Patriots.
To go three for three on the road, and have the third come in Pittsburgh against Ben Roethlisberger (and Troy Polamalu and that Pittsburgh defense) seems almost impossible.
I’m sure the Jets will love to hear that, of course.
The playoffs are about quarterback play, which means Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers are set up nicely to beat Chicago in the NFC title game. The playoff action further disputes former 49ers coach Mike Singletary’s notion that QB is not the most important position.
In the eight games, the team that had the QB with the higher in-game passer rating won seven times.
In the divisional round, the Jets’ Sanchez (127.3) beat New England’s Brady (89.0); Chicago’s Jay Cutler (111.3) beat Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck (94.3); Green Bay’s Rodgers (136.8) beat Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (69.0); and Pittsburgh’s Roethlisberger (101.8) beat Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (61.1).
In the wild-card round, Seattle’s Hasselbeck (113.0) beat New Orleans’ Drew Brees (95.4); Baltimore’s Flacco (115.4) beat Kansas City’s Matt Cassel (20.4); and Green Bay’s Rodgers (122.5) beat Philadelphia’s Michael Vick (79.9).
In the only outlier in the playoffs so far, Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning (108.7) did not defeat the Jets’ Sanchez (62.4).
It’s those darn Jets, again, proving they can win with superior QB play or without it.
I think they’ll finally hit the wall against Pittsburgh, but for now, this is Rex Ryan’s world, and he’s allowed to crow about it.