FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — This is the week you could count on, at least twice an NFL season, to hear some pretty good trash talk all the way from New York to Boston.
Yep, it’s Jets-Patriots.
Bad blood, memorable moments and players and coaches switching sides mark this AFC East rivalry.
So, with the latest showdown set for Sunday at New England with first place in the division on the line, the hype should be starting right about now, right?
“We’re not trying to catch up on anybody,” guard Willie Colon said Monday. “We’re not trying to make any statements. We just want to win, and everything will take care of itself.”
What about the shots at Tom Brady? Or, that stuff about not kissing Bill Belichick’s rings? And, the talk of knocking the Patriots off their throne atop the AFC East?
“You know the answer to that,” Colon said. “You know why. New regime.”
Rex Ryan certainly drove the narrative during his six years with the Jets, firmly establishing an us-against-them approach. Ryan always spoke of his respect for Brady and Belichick, but also made it clear that he wanted to beat them, and in a big way.
He wasn’t very successful at it, though, going 4-9 against them with the Jets — although one of those victories came in the playoffs. That did little to stifle the chatter during the week leading up to the games against the Patriots.
Well, under coach Todd Bowles, the buzz is gone.
“Winning this game is not going to make us,” Bowles said. “Losing this game is not going to break us.”
But, Ryan used to say division games were worth 1½ games because of their potential effect on the standings.
“No,” Bowles said. “It’s one game for us.”
These are certainly new — and boring? — times in the Jets-Patriots rivalry, with New York taking on the even-keeled and low-key approach of its head coach.
The spiciest of the headline-making comments might have come after the Jets’ 34-20 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday. That’s when Sheldon Richardson declared that the Jets are “licking our chops” at facing the defending Super Bowl champions.
“You want them amped up on Sunday, but as far as playing the game or playing a specific person, you try to treat everybody the same and we go about our business the same way,” Bowles said. “We don’t let that (determine) what we do in practice or what we do on Sunday.”
That includes not getting too high emotionally about facing an undefeated Patriots team that has won the division 12 of the past 14 seasons.
“Emotions is a tricky word,” Colon said. “Because if you fall into it, you kind of lose focus on everything that needs to be done around you. The only way to keep emotions out of that is just focus on your job, and focus on the job at hand.”
For the Jets (4-1), that means not having the type of sluggish starts that have been an early season problem, including their sloppy first half against the Redskins. New York had three turnovers in the first two quarters, leading to all of the Redskins’ points as they took a 13-10 lead into halftime.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense got their acts together in the third quarter, scoring 24 straight points and cruising to a win. Chris Ivory had another big game with 146 yards rushing and a touchdown, leading a Jets running attack that ranks first in the league.
“We have a lot of stuff to clean up,” Fitzpatrick said. “The turnovers early obviously put our defense in a tough spot. Those are just things that aren’t going to be able to continue to occur if we want to continue to win games.”
The defense is ranked No. 1 overall in yardage allowed with 269.2 yards per game, and it has given up an NFL-low 75 points through five games.
In Brady & Co., the Jets will face the league’s No. 2 overall offense, which also ranks second in passing.
“He’s one of the ultimate quarterbacks of our time,” Bowles said.
As a starting quarterback, Brady is 21-6 against the Jets, including 1-1 in the playoffs. So, he’s an opponent the Jets know well — and can serve as an early season litmus test for New York.
Even if they’re being hush-hush about it all.
“It’s Week 6 and we just happen to be playing the New England Patriots,” Colon said. “That’s our mindset. We know it’s going to be a tough team to go against. But for us, it’s another chance for us to prove ourselves. The only thing we need to prove to ourselves is that we can win.”
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)