By Tom E. Curran
"Don't fuel the hype." That's something Bill Belichickpreaches to his players. This week, they won't need to.The hype will be self-sustaining. And if the hype ebbs, some wayward Jet is sure to throw a log on the fire.
Like, say, Braylon Edwards.In Week 2, heDougie'd on the fallen carcass of Darius Butler. In Week 13, he moped that the Patriots ran up the score in their 45-3 win. And in Week 18, soon after the Jets took out Indianapolis on Saturday night, Edwards had his attention turned to New England. "I give them all the credit in the world," Edwards said, referring to the Patriots 42-point win. "They played well. But with that said, we allowed them to do it. We played their game. They got up on us and went to cover-2 zone. Who the hell has three-quarters worth of cover-2 play? So, if we take advantage of them early on and their man-to-man coverage or their cover-3, now, they're forced to play our game. Now, we fight."A couple of points to ponder while digesting Braylon's wisdom. And his tweets. Edwards is certainly under the impression that the secondary he grooved on in Week 2 is the same in January as it was in September. Despite having played against it. Despite the fact another AFC East coach, Tony Sparano of the Dolphins, says the play of Patriots' corners Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty has been the key to New England's improvements. Further - while you can't expect the Jets to stop running their mouths because they subscribe to the Rex Ryan tenet of "This is who I am, this is what I do . . . " - the ferocity of the Patriots beating should at least be recalled, not dismissed. The Jets lost by seven touchdowns. In Sun Tzu's "Art of War" there's a passage that saysIf you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
"We knew we'd get back at them," said Edwards. "We just knew. In the back of our minds, we always felt as though we would get back to them and it would be about us."It's not even about revenge," Edwards added. "That's regular season. Who cares? Yeah, we got embarrassed, but that's the regular season. This is the playoffs."It's even seemingly innocuous comments like that can be used as kindling. Edwards - he of the four career playoff games - holding court on the importance of the postseason, when Tom Brady's played 18 of them? The Jets certainly have talented football players and nobody's saying their coaching staff is a collection of morons (Sal Aloisi may qualify, though), but they are mooks. They are so self-absorbed in trying to live up to the back-slapping, backroom brawling, loose-lipped, renegade persona their head coach has hatched for them, they can't see how what they say impacts opponents. Or what it says about them. Ryan's drive-by belittling of Tom Brady last week didn't seem intentional. Ryan was simply trying to make a point about Peyton Manning's preparation. Before he knew it, he was saying Tom Brady may think he studies the game but he doesn't do it like Manning. Next breath, he realized he'd dope-slapped Brady and decided to credit Belichick. Which, in turn, made it seem like he was belittling the Indianapolis coaches for not being as sharp as Belichick and being dumber than Manning. It's just disorganized. And while the fans and media love Rex in all his unvarnished, foot-worshipping ridiculousness, it's not conducive to winning football. "Say little when you win. Say less when you lose."Brady's trotted that line out a few times during his career. Seems to work well.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran