09/20/2009 8:39 PM ET
Jets to NFL: Ready or not, here we come
Rex has made the Jets defense one of the NFL's best
By Michael Salfino / SNY.tv
The Jets defense did not allow Tom Brady's offense to score a touchdown Sunday. (AP)

The Patriots went home embarrassed and feeling bad about themselves.
Tom Brady might have three rings, but when it comes to trash talking
(or maybe trash Tweeting), it's Kerry
Rhodes 1, "Talk is Cheap" Brady 0.

What's the 16-9 victory at the Meadowlands mean? The Jets are one of the handful of championship contenders. They can now lay a convincing claim for having the best defense in football led by five guys who will probably be in the Pro Bowl come February (baring injury). And they seem to have a franchise QB in the making, the second rookie QB to beat Bill Belichick (Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 being the other).

Wow, have things changed since January or what?

The key development is that Darrelle Revis is not merely a Pro Bowl-caliber corner, but a Hall of Fame-caliber corner. Yes, it's early in his career and yes, I cited the "Loser's Curse" study when the team traded up for him and also in that same draft for David Harris (only playing like a young Ray Lewis, as is, by the way, the old Ray Lewis). But when you shut down the freakishly gifted guys like Andre Johnson and Randy Moss in consecutive weeks, you prove you are worth more than any player in football with the exception of actual and putative franchise QBs.

And how good does that Texans shutout (they scored a defensive TD) and Revis shut down of Johnson look now. In Tennessee, Houston posted 357 passing yards and four TDs, including 10 for 149 and two scores from Johnson.

Meanwhile Eric Mangini, who is presently busy fining guys $1,700 for not paying wet bar tabs of $3 for water bottles at the team hotel, wasted Revis by matching him up on Wes Welker -- far from a game-changing weapon. I know Welker was out on Sunday (but capably replaced by Julian Edelman, a seventh-round pick from Kent State who's converting from running back).

But enough about the past. Rex Ryan is the man right now and he's doing it old school (like his dad) by just harassing QBs on virtually every passing down.

All the things that were supposed to work for New England didn't. They were supposed to spread the Jets out better than the Texans. And as Bill Cowher noted in the pre-game, the no huddle is a great option for gassing blitzers. But the Jets have talent and depth and will only get deeper and more versatile when OLB/DE Calvin Pace returns from suspension after four games.

The Jets have so much faith in their defense that they chose to defer after winning the toss for the second-straight week, thus giving the Patriots the ball to start the game. No one does that when weather isn't a factor. They also played so conservatively in the first half as opposed to playing frenetically on offense like most teams do versus New England, as the assumption always is that you will have to score at least four TDs to win.

But there would be no offense today from Brady. Just three measly field goals. In the second half, Moss - who said that Revis is the best corner in football even before this game - wasn't given even a second look by Brady. And Moss was being single covered for the first time in his life in organized football, I will guarantee you.

Brady was clearly uncomfortable not being able to dictate to the defense and having bodies flying around him on half of his 47 mostly futile pass attempts. But who would be?

Meanwhile, the Jets play calling was tight. The third and 13 draw play and settling for the field goal before halftime was upsetting in light of how well Sanchez played in the road opener.

But to start the third quarter, the Jets took the training wheels off and the results were instant -- two Sanchez completions on a three-play, 56-yard TD drive including the beautifully thrown TD to Dustin Keller on a route adjustment in the back of the end zone.

When the team put the Franchez's hands in the second half, he showed the full package -- arm, feet, accuracy, accuracy on the run and even toughness in taking a vicious hit while hitting Leon Washington in full stride for a big play lost when Washington dropped it.

He's also so alert for a rookie. After the TD call on a pass to Chansi Stuckey where Stuckey clearly did not get both feet down, he was screaming at the sideline to snap the conversion before the Pats could challenge. But the coaching staff seemed flatfooted for the one time all day.

The Pats were lost. They had two consecutive delay of games AFTER an injury timeout to take them out of field goal range. And that would be their last scoring opportunity. The actual game clock kept running in this sequence, moving from 5:05 to 3:32 without the Patriots even getting off a legal snap.

The ending was a thing of beauty, with Rex Ryan throwing out the coaching manual and blitzing seven on second and 10 and then seven again on fourth and 10. That's just unheard of in today's game. In the close ups, Brady's pupils seemed dilated. He's a champion and a future first ballot Hall of Famer, but he clearly had seen and had enough.

Fearless. Cocky. And clearly so very, very good. You can't believe what you're seeing, I know. But seeing is believing. The Jets have put the NFL on notice. Big things are brewing in the Meadowlands.
Michael Salfino is a nationally syndicated columnist and a regular contributor to SNY.tv.
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