At times, in Jets nation, it seems as though there are only two teams in the NFL, the Jets and the Patriots. Everything has revolved around this New York/Boston border war rivalry that heated up to cosmic levels once Bill Parcells left Foxboro for Leon Hess Jets in the mid nineties.
The Jets and Patriots are the Yankees and Red Sox of football right no w, hated rivals who feel as though they have to be equipped in order to beat the other, otherwise reaching the Super Bowl becomes a pipe dream. When THESE two teams get at it, the fur flies the pre game hype flies, and the post game emotional damage for the losing team becomes a study to be conducted under a microscope. Consider 2010.
Last year, after the Monday night debacle in Foxboro, Rex Ryan had to bury a ball to exorcise the demons of an unexpected 45-3 massacre. A hangover then ensued in the putrid loss to Miami the following week.
It was then the Jets turn to give the Pats a dose of pain during the AFC divisional playoff round. Gang Green ruined the Pats home field advantage by eliminating them days after a week of trash talk culminating in Wes Welker’s foot fetish references. The devastating loss forced the Pats to question their personnel heading into this season.
Now enter the madness of THIS post lockout free agency. The Jets used their initial days to re-acquire home run threat Santonio Holmes and right tackle Wayne Hunter, thus keeping last year’s offensive line intact and their big play receiver in Green and White.
After a mad chase for CB Nnamdi Asomugha failed, the Jets rebounded with the pickups of WR Plaxico Burress and CB Antonio Cromartie to keep the status quo. All purpose WR Brad Smith was a casualty of the week long Nnamdi drama but the Jets kept their goal of remaining a vertical passing team capable of moving defenses out of the box against the their running attack.
The Pats sured up their run defense, exposed during their season ending loss to the Jets last year, during the first few days when they traded away a fifth round pick to the Redskins for disgruntled defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Next came WR Chad Ochocinco, who many feel has been hurt by the deteriorating play of Carson Palmer over the past few years. Ocho seemed needed after the Jets dropped eight defenders back into coverage all day during that same January game, thus exposing the Pats lack of firepower on the outside.
Sunday brought a spotlight to this border war when longtime Jets DE Shaun Ellis signed with the Pats, giving New England a line ready to take on the Ground and Pound consisting of Ellis, Vince Wilfork and Haynesworth, maybe adding some info on the Jets from the Ellis perspective as well.
The constant news regarding players gained on both sides, and even ones the Jets in particular HAVEN’T kept, have made it seem as though the two clubs have been the only active ones on the market.
We all know that the games are played on the field, not on paper, or in offices where contracts are signed. It is interesting however to consider the notion of which team got a leg up on the other these past two weeks.
For the Jets, a microcosm for this change can be seen through the WR position. Plaxico Burress and Derick Mason will replace Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. Both new Jets WRs bring with them longer careers of success and bigger numbers. They also bring with them rust and age, and a lack of familiarity with the offense. The upside, should the new duo be healthy and motivated. will make the moves an upgrade for the Jets. The downside could be a disaster.
The Patriots haven’t altered as much as they have added veterans with something to prove but again, veterans. With age on them as well. The upside for them on the defensive line could be deadly provided that Haynesworth behaves and Ellis has something left in the tank. The downside? A sluggish disruptive unit that costs coach Bill Belichick time and energy. The risk? Slight. Belichick and the Patriots have offered little to nothing financially and draft pick wise in order to obtain these players.
It will take an entire 2011 season to determine who won this free agency war. Still, it hasn’t stopped many from wondering who has gained an edge. Here are some of Jets Nation’s take on who has done better during this crazy free agency period, told to us on Twitter:
@JoeyScalesi: Pats unfortuantely
@jWeinstein23 Pats have gotten the bigger names but the Jets have made their team better. If Haynesworth or Ochocinco suck, it looks terrible.
@UKJets: it’s a tough question. Both teams will see the biggest benefit from development in young players like Sanchez & mccourty.
@RobKosova: Hate em but I think the Pats.
@Sanchize6: the Jets, Pats have added good pieces but who knows what they have left, the jets kept all their key pieces and are younger.