"I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's, you know, rings." - Rex Ryan, 2009
Rex, it's time.
It's time to kiss the rings.
No more sorrow-filled platitudes about how you will be missed.
Or odes to your coaching success.
Or tomes about how you made life fun for Patriots State Run Media by giving them quips and quotes to fill their digital scape.
History will tell us that Rex Ryan wasn't even the best NFL coach in New Jersey during the first two decades of the 21st century. Never mind him developing into a serious rival to Bill Belichick. The full-time contrarians who inhabit the drive-time airwaves on both sides of the Mass Pike in Brighton, along with Patriot-Haters across the fruited plain, so desperately wanted Ryan and his Jets to pose a real threat to the Patriots.
Rex also carried the hopes and dreams of "SpyGate" conspiracy theorists everywhere in the pockets beneath his once immense girth.
He was going to once and for all blow up Belichick's Death Star.
Rexy was the anti-Belichick in so many ways, we were told. Not only did he exude personality, he was going to finally cure the AFC East of the Patriots' dominance. Of course, since that victory over New England in the playoffs four years ago next month, Rex and his Jets are 1-6 against Belichick, Tom Brady and the rest of the Evil Empire.
That's correct, the "Can't Wait" win over the Patriots was four years ago next month.
Since then, the Red Sox have won a World Series title and finished in last place twice, the Bruins have won the Stanley Cup, the Celtics pushed themselves one win from the NBA finals, and the Patriots have reached the AFC title game three times.
Come Sunday, Rex Ryan and his version of the Jets will fail against Belichick "for the last time."
Ryan, to his credit, stands by his "rings" statement. He doesn't plan on kissing Belichick's anything any time soon.
"Hell no, because I never came here to do that," Ryan said Wednesday. "I came here to kick his butt. Obviously, I haven't been very successful at it, but that list is long; I'm not just the only name on that list. I might be the only one that had the guts to say something about it. But that's how I am; that's how I feel this week, too. No different than any other time I've been here."
Ryan will soon join the immense and historic ash-heap of AFC East coaches who failed in their ill-fated quest to dislodge Belichick and the Patriots from their near-permanent perch atop the division.
Names like Al Groh, Eric Mangini, Herman Edwards, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, Nick Saban, Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron, and Chan Gailey. They've all come and gone from this division. They've all failed in their attempts to permanently boot Belichick and Brady from their place at the control panel of the Death Star that looms without mercy over the rest of the AFC East.
Sparano's Dolphins won the division in 2008, but that was only after Brady was Bernard Pollard-ed in Week 1. Still, Belichick's Patriots went 11-5.
The lamentations for Ryan are knee-deep in "What ifs?"
"If only he had a quarterback, a competent general manager, an offensive coordinator, a podiatrist license"
Blah, blah, blah
Rex always wanted it his way. He was more one dimensional than One Direction. He had a quality quarterback in Mark Sanchez, but failed to create a situation where Sanchez could develop and improve. Sanchez was good enough to beat the Patriots in the 2010 postseason divisional playoff. His defense carried the day. But there were no butt-fumbles in that 28-21 victory over the Patriots.
Sanchez got worse and worse the longer he floundered under the weight of Ryan's lack-of-offense system. Belichick won his first two Super Bowl rings as a defensive coordinator for Bill Parcells and the Giants.
Yet, in New England, he has fashioned the most dynamic and productive offense of the 21st century with a quarterback taken in the sixth round of the draft. Belichick eschewed deep-threat receivers for a dual tight-end set. Save for the criminal charges against Aaron Hernandez, it's hard to argue against its immense success.
It is wise to be wary when facing the Jets, even if their lone win against New England in the past four seasons came last year in New Jersey after the infamous "push-blocking" penalty. That is a call that had never been made in the NFL before or since. This season, the Jets have been paltry and pitiful on offense. Yet, New York achieved its season-high of 25 points against New England in Week 7.
The Patriots won that game in large part to do Chris Jones' block on Nick Folk’s 58-yard field goal attempt as time expired. No doubt that tape has been reviewed to see if the Patriots somehow had an illegal lineup set.
Ryan gets one more shot to ruin Belichick's season on Sunday. The Patriots appear poised to lock-up home field until Glendale, even as soon as this week. Rex and the Jets always loom as a legitimate threat during any given week.
Over the long-haul, however, the book is closed.
Belichick has emerged triumphant.
The rings await, Rex.
Pucker up, bud.
Do it now, before there's another one to smooch in a couple of months.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Bill has written and reported for ESPN, CBSSports.Com and was a sports/deputy sports editor at several metro daily newspapers. Reach Bill on the OBF Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
OBF email Address. Thanks always for reading.
More from this blog on: Patriots