A tweak here about not kissing Bill Belichick’s Super Bowl rings. A towel-snap there about Patriot dominance and Ryan’s Jets not intending to be pushed around.
Wednesday brought the topper. A voice message plea sent by Ryan to Jets season-ticket holders. The request? Full-throated support Sunday against the Patriots in the Meadowlands.
“I’ve already admitted that, hey, the Patriots have a better head coach and they’ve got a better quarterback than us,” Ryan said during the 70-second message. “But we’re going to see who’s got a better team.”
The message drips with false self-deprecation. It’s grandstanding. It’s Ryan trying to turn Sunday’s game into some kind of peasant uprising against a cruel, powerful tyrannical king. And it’s good, good stuff.
Of course, this approach is anathema to Belichick. Ryan wants every Jet to feel 10-feet tall, bulletproof and ready to say so. Belichick wants every Patriot laser-focused on his job, mouth shut, ears on alert for disrespect.
Ryan might flip a buffet table for effect. Belichick would snort and wonder how spilled food is going to make a team tackle, block or think any better.
In outward approaches, the two gentlemen are exact opposites. And that’s what helps make them the main attraction as the NFL season enters Week 2.
“I love the fact that he doesn’t care,” Fauria said. “If you want to take control of a situation, you find out who the toughest guy on the block is and you go and beat him up. The Patriots are the toughest guy on the block. Why not single them out?
“But at the same time, I don’t think (Ryan) called Belichick out,” Fauria added. “He said, ‘Listen, I’m not backing down from you.’ This isn’t about being friendly and borrowing sugar. Just because he’s down the road in New York City doesn’t mean they’re gonna be friends.”
Of course, the Patriots and Jets have been anything but friends for most of their existence, but especially since January 1997. That’s when Bill Parcells fled south to become Jets head coach — Belichick in tow — touching off a feud that’s now on Volume 6.
First, there were three seasons worth of Tuna Bowls in which the Jets got progressively better and the Patriots progressively worse. Then, in 2000, when Parcells moved upstairs and Belichick was supposed to succeed him as head coach, Belichick bailed. Much-wrangling ensued.
In September 2000, Parcells declared, “The Border War is over.” It wasn’t. The Patriots got great and the Jets got bad.
Then Belichick protégé Eric Mangini went from New England to New York in 2006 and, on the way out the door, was recruiting Patriots coaches and players to accompany him. Belichick cut Mangini off and the iciness between the two was well-documented. In 2007, the Jets ratted out New England to the league for videotaping New York’s defensive signals after a league directive to stop the practice had been handed down. Spygate was born.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Belichick was asked this week about Ryan’s offseason comments. “I think that’s all not really that relevant,” he said. “The most important thing to us is we are playing a division game on the road. That pretty much says it all. Whatever you want to write — big game, or important game, or however you want to say that, put it in capital letters, or put it in italics — phrase it however you want to phrase it. I think division games are big games on our schedule and when we’re on the road, those are huge. So we know it’s a big matchup and I’m sure they do, too.”
PFT: Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith said the draft process taught him an important lesson on taking criticism.
Y! Sports: Redskins fans found what appeared to be the wedding registry for Robert Griffin III and fiancee Rebecca Liddicoat, and they helped out their star QB.
Rex: 'I'm not conceding anything'
Rex Ryan talks about Sunday's big game against the Patriots in the Meadowlands.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Latest from ProFootballTalk
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Chudzinski: 'Too early' to name a QB
Following Thursday's OTA, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski speaks to the media about his team’s brewing quarterback controversy. He feels the competition will aid in each QB’s progression as a passer, but he isn’t ready to name a starter for Week 1.
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.