Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
FLORHAM PARK, N.J.
There is not a scintilla of doubt in Trevor Pryce's mind that the Patriots are saying things just as provocative and controversial as Rex Ryan and Antonio Cromartie have in the run-up to Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
"It's worse, believe me, what they're saying about us," the Jets' 35-year-old defensive tackle said. "I've heard things you wouldn't believe that are said in a locker room by coaches, players, you name it."
The only difference: Whatever the Patriots are saying is behind closed doors, not into a microphone, tape recorder or reporter's notebook. With Ryan calling out Bill Belichick and Tom Brady on Monday, and then Cromartie describing Brady with words not fit for a family newspaper, the Jets' gums are flapping like never before.
To which we say: Did you expect anything different?
If the answer is yes, then you haven't been paying attention to this team since Ryan arrived almost two years ago and proclaimed that he planned on visiting President Obama at the White House in the very near future after winning a Super Bowl.
This is who these Jets are, and this is the way the Jets will be as long as Ryan is the coach. So if you belong to the school of "Don't say anything about your opponent lest you make him mad,'' then Ryan is not your kind of coach. And never will be.
"Everything I've ever said is because I have a strong belief in our football team," Ryan said. "I've gone into every game in my life thinking I'm going to win and we're going to win.
"I've said it before, I believe in myself, but more importantly, I believe in the players I coach and I believe in the assistants that coach with me and this organization. If I'm saying something, I'm just stating a fact. I believe our football team will win."
Where most coaches opt for the Belichick school of saying nothing to rile your opponent, Ryan is from the Jimmy Johnson / Mike Ditka / Buddy Ryan school of "say whatever you want because that's how you feel.''
It's what you're comfortable with, and Ryan is comfortable saying whatever comes to mind, no filter necessary. Belichick is diametrically opposed, muzzling his players, as evidenced by this week's gag order on anything remotely controversial.
But let's be clear about one thing: Belichick has not won three Super Bowls because he believes his players should say nothing controversial to the media. He has won three titles because he is a future Hall of Famer who may be the greatest tactician in the history of pro football, and because he has a future Hall of Fame quarterback who might turn out to be one of the top players in NFL history. If not the best, period.
Sure, saying nothing of substance before games is part of Belichick's approach. But I doubt if he'd be winning any less if he decided to allow himself or his players to speak their minds publicly.
And for those who think Brady will be even more dominant because Cromartie called him out, then ask yourself this: Does Brady really need that kind of motivation to elevate his game? I mean, wouldn't you think one of the greatest players ever would play great, regardless of what anyone said?
Listen to Reggie Jackson, who made an impromptu call to the "Michael Kay Show" on ESPN 1050 to rail about Cromartie's comments. After ripping the cornerback's screed against Brady, Mr. October said, "You don't affect [Brady]. You don't heighten his senses."
So, if that's the case, then why get all in a tizzy over what the guy says? Brady is a perfectionist regardless of anyone's comments. So, do you think he's going to try to be more perfect than perfect?
Sure, Cromartie could have amended his vulgar remarks and said something along the lines of "silly goose." Then again, if that's the way the guy feels, why make any pretenses? You think Brady would ease up if the quotes had been softened?
But if you'd prefer the Jets to just shut up and play, then perhaps you'd rather go back to a time when that's what they did, when they tried to emulate the Patriots' approach. The Jets said nothing heading into their last playoff game in New England, and were as respectful as they could be to Belichick, Brady & Co.
And what happened? Eric Mangini's Jets got waxed, 37-16, in the first round of the 2006 playoffs.
"They don't care what we say in the media,'' Cromartie said. "It's what you do between the white lines. That's what it's going to come to on Sunday."
Bottom line: Talk is talk, and that's all it is. It makes for great theater, and it drives ratings. But it doesn't determine the outcome of football games.