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Jets still waiting for their Tom Brady to arrive

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 14: Tom Brady #12

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 14: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes the ball during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 14, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images / Jared Wickerham

In their decades-long search for the next face of their franchise, the Jets continually have fallen short.

Not since smooth-talking, sharp-dressing Joe Namath have they had a quarterback with a persona to match the bright lights of the Big Apple, one capable of making good on his Super Bowl guarantee -- or even getting them that far.

So many quarterbacks have come through the organization, yet the Jets still are searching for The One. Sure, there have been serviceable signal-callers over the years, but no one who has been able to consistently lead them to the promised land of the playoffs and beyond.

It's no surprise that the Jets have stumbled to a 3-11 record due in large part to erratic quarterback play and poor cornerback coverage. As a result, Sunday's game against the New England Patriots likely will be Rex Ryan's final home game as their coach.

Meanwhile, in Foxborough, consistency and stability continue to be the benchmarks under Bill Belichick. And it's not hard to see why.

"It doesn't hurt to have a first-ballot Hall of Famer quarterbacking for you,'' Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said with a smile two days before their game at MetLife Stadium.

Tom Brady has been the difference-maker in New England, guiding the franchise to 12 AFC East titles and three Super Bowl victories. No matter the season, no matter the roster, Brady remains the constant. Ryan would give anything to have an elite quarterback like him on his sideline.

"Having that consistency at that position in particular probably makes it a little easier than maybe other teams have gone through,'' Ryan said.

"My wife could coach him,'' he later joked of Brady. "Nah, I'm just kidding . . . I think sometimes there's less credit given to the coaching and all that stuff, but Bill Belichick is an outstanding coach, anyway.''

Belichick -- who infamously resigned as "HC of the NYJ'' on a napkin on Jan. 4, 2000 -- has benefited greatly from Brady's command of the huddle. Meanwhile, Ryan is on his second high draft pick at quarterback in six years. And now the Jets will try to counter Brady's hurry-up offense with Geno Smith, who has regressed significantly in his second season.

Smith's struggles not only have stunted the Jets' offense but might have cost the former second-round pick a chance to be a starter in 2015. Smith did, however, have his best game of the season in Week 7 against the Patriots. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a 27-25 overtime loss at Gillette Stadium.

It was the scoring high of the season for the Jets. But New England is a far better team now. And that should trouble Jets fans.

There's no outwitting Brady, Ryan said. But "I think you can outplay him,'' he pointed out. "I think that's how you beat him.''

Asked about the Patriots, Willie Colon said: "They do it their way. They win. They're successful . . . They don't make excuses for what they don't have and they win with whatever's in their stable. They're just a tough team.''

That most certainly is true. And the Patriots always seem to find their groove late in the season. Since 2001, they have an NFL-best 82-21 record in games played on or after Thanksgiving. New England also possesses the best December record in the NFL since 2000: 53-9.

The Jets -- who fall short against the Patriots in almost every offensive category -- are double-digit underdogs at home against New England for the first time. Statistically speaking, they shouldn't stand a chance against a future Hall of Fame quarterback and his genius coach.

But it's only fitting that the final home game of their season would be against their most bitter rival, Pace said. And from a Jets perspective, a victory over the Patriots would be a fitting end to what very well may be the final AFC East battle between Ryan and Belichick.

Said Pace: "That's the best way to go out.''

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