If the Jets can beat the Patriots on Sunday in Foxboro they will be tied for first place in the AFC East four days before Thanksgiving. Try that baby on for size.
You want to know how far the Jets have come so far this season, one they started without their QB1? That’s how far, you bet. They have traveled some road already, and excited their fan base, and beat the Bills, who were supposed to be the hands-down class of the division. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the road takes them to Bill Belichick now.
Tom Brady is gone from the Patriots. Belichick is still there, two decades removed from when he walked away from the Jets and went up to Foxboro, Mass., to become the greatest coach in pro football history. He ended up with Brady not long after, of course he did, the greatest quarterback of them all. But Brady had Belichick, too. You think Peyton Manning wouldn’t like a do-over on his career with Belichick on his side of the field?
Now here he is again, playing the same part that he has pretty much played since he held that press conference at Hofstra and told all of us in the room and all Jets fans everywhere that he didn’t want to succeed Bill Parcells and become the “HC” of the “NYJ.”
It means that for the Jets, Belichick remains the bogeyman.
No one is exactly sure just how much team he has this season, or how much quarterback he will ultimately have with Mac Jones. But the Patriots have already gotten the Jets once this season and now on Sunday get the chance to do it again.
In the whole grand scheme of things, the Jets only got Belichick really bad one time. It was January of 2011, when the Jets were on their way to a second straight AFC championship game under Rex Ryan. The Patriots were 14-2 that season. There had been a Monday night game when they had done everything to the Jets except slash the tires of the team bus. But Mark Sanchez threw a big pass to Braylon Edwards and the Jets gave Brady what he would call one of the most disappointing losses of his career.
This game on Sunday is not that game. The stakes are not remotely the same. It still feels like as big a Jets-Patriots game as the Jets have played since then. The Bills game at MetLife was something to see, without question, a huge statement game for Robert Saleh’s team, and for Zach Wilson. But this is the Patriots. This is Belichick once again sending his defense after another kid playing quarterback for the Jets. Zach Wilson gets his chance to put some points on the board against the Patriots. He hasn’t said anything about seeing ghosts, at least not yet.
When you add it all up, when you look at what Belichick has done in New England, the six Super Bowls he won with Brady as his quarterback and nine Super Bowl appearances in all, there has never been a more significant loss in New York sports than the Jets losing him. Now the Patriots have won 11 games in a row at home against the Jets. According to the Elias Sports Bureau (they know everything), Belichick’s Patriots are 18-6 against the Jets in Foxboro and 18-5 in Jersey, numbers that include the playoff games the teams have played against each other.
Again: Brady is long gone to Tampa. He went down there and won the Super Bowl without Belichick that Belichick may never win without Brady. And yet: The Patriots got the Jets twice last season and got them again three weeks ago, even though Wilson did manage to throw the ball for 355 passing yards and a couple of touchdown passes around three killer interceptions.
Now the Jets get another chance to punch their card as being legit, this time against Belichick’s team. But if they don’t, if the Patriots sweep the series again, the Jets will leave Foxboro with the same record as the Patriots, 6-4.
It means that once more, guess who will be the Jets’ daddy?
The Jets season doesn’t become a failure on Sunday if Belichick and the Patriots do get them again. There has been too much promise to get here, too much solid defense, too much special sauce, and not just from Sauce Gardner. The Jets beat the Bills. They beat the Packers at Lambeau when the Packers still thought they had a team and a season. And there will be seven regular-season games left after they get back home Sunday night.
You see how close everybody is bunched in the East. The Patriots are no powerhouse this season, against a soft schedule. The jury is very much out on Jones as the future quarterback of the team, especially the way fans fell quickly in love with the kid, Bailey Zappe, when Jones was hurt. And send up a flare if you think Joe Judge and Matt Patricia essentially sharing the role of offensive coordinator is the latest example of Bill Belichick’s genius.
The Jets were being sold to Woody Johnson when Kraft sold Belichick on the opportunity with the Patriots. Man oh man is the rest history.
Here is how Belichick explained it a couple of years ago:
“[The Jets] weren’t a good situation for me and I didn’t want to be part of it, so I wasn’t.”
Then he saw something in Brady, a sixth-round draft choice out of Michigan. Before long Brady was taking the Patriots down the field in the Superdome to beat the St. Louis Rams for the first Belichick-Brady-Bob (Kraft) Super Bowl championship. The Jets came close to making it to the big game under Rex, who said he wasn’t coming here to kiss Belichick’s rings and ultimately did, making it to two straight AFC championship games with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. It doesn’t change the fact that they have been in that huge, historic shadow cast by the Patriots for 20 years.
The Jets aren’t looking to slay a dragon on Sunday. They’re just looking to beat Belichick and beat the Patriots and grab a share of first place in the AFC East in a season when nobody thought they had a chance to come close to doing anything like that. They go up there and give themselves a chance to start dreaming big if they can get to 7-3 and tie the Dolphins.
They just have to get past the same old nightmare.
BRING ON THE WORLD, HAL NEED TO STOP BLAMING THE INJURIES & NO PLEASURE IN RODGERS’ STRUGGLES …
I love the World Cup, even when it’s in Qatar and even when they don’t sell beer at the stadium.
Love watching games even when I have no skin in them.
Will absolutely be watching on Monday afternoon when it’s the USA vs. Wales.
One of the great sports experiences I ever had was in London, during the World Cup of 2010.
We were there for Wimbledon and we found out we could watch the USA vs. Algeria game at a bar near Trafalgar called — I swear — the Texas Embassy Cantina.
There were Americans from Seattle in the place that day and Chicago, and Dallas, and Philadelphia and New York, rocking it all match long.
I had my sons with me and all the Americans in the joint were cheering like it was Yankee Stadium and they were cheering on the Yankees.
It ended with Landon Donovan’s goal winning the game for USA, and in that moment the noise blew a hole right through the ceiling.
It wasn’t just World Cup soccer that was great that day.
It was sports.
And I keep hoping that someday there’s a team from this country with a real chance, and that the whole country can get behind one American team the way Brazil does and England and Argentina and Germany and France and Italy.
It would be something.
Does Hal Steinbrenner honestly believe that the Yankees were going to beat the Astros if they just had DJ LeMahieu and Andrew Benintendi?
If the Yankees do trade Gleyber Torres, as is being rumored, it will mean that another youth movement — the one that was going to be built around Torres and Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier — bites the dust at Yankee Stadium.
Remember when it was all going to be about the Baby Bombers?
You remember that, right?
Sure, you do.
You would call Giants vs. Lions a trap game for the Giants, but let’s face facts: They’re all trap games.
I keep thinking that the Yankees are going to make a big run at Verlander.
My pal Stanton found it amusing Thursday night that everybody talked about Ryan Tannehill beating Aaron Rodgers after everything Derrick Henry did to win the game for his team.
By the way?
Nobody should be taking any pleasure in watching Rodgers, after the career he’s had, after he’s played his position at the highest possible level, have a season like this as he’s preparing to turn 39 in a couple of weeks.
Alabama lost one game to Tennessee on a knuckle-curve of a field goal at the end, and got beat by LSU on a two-point conversion to end that game, and you sometimes get the idea that they’re playing like slobs.
Where in the world was Josh Allen throwing that ball at the end of overtime against the Vikings?
Where are we on Tom Thibodeau’s job security this week?
To paraphrase the old line from George Young one more time:
When does the current mayor of New York start mayor-ing?
I’ll be governor of Arizona this time around before Kari Lake, Queen of the Election Deniers Prom, is.
People have to stop acting as if Twitter going down would be the equivalent of a meteor hitting the planet.