The Jets are hopeless, but the Patriots aren’t much better off

Patriots

The Patriots are forgettable, infuriating, and proving to not be worth much of your attention. But at least they’re not the Jets.

A New York Jets fan.
A New York Jets fan cheers during Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game at MetLife Stadium. AP

COMMENTARY

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Let’s be straight about the reality here right out of the chute; the Patriots are a lousy football team. The offense has been an aimless work in progress for the better part of three seasons now, led by a quarterback who looks more and more each week like he’s not the the solution. While other teams are dropping 70 on the competition, the New England Patriots (more specifically, Bill Belichick) seem content to live in a bygone era when controlling field position was the primary key to success in the National Football League. Scoring points is for bullies. Watch how us Wesleyans carve up your dastardly schemes.

Even worse, these Patriots are boring, lacking any of the sort of explosive theater that Red Zoners revel in every week. They are altogether forgettable, infuriating, and proving to not be worth much of your attention for a second-straight season. 

But at least they’re not the Jets. 

There is an emphatic segment of New England fandom that continues to crow about “Six Rings” like New York Yankees fans bragged about all their ancient World Series titles while they were watching the likes of Alvaro Espinoza butcher the shortstop position. In truth, what you have now is an NFL team that’s merely good enough to beat the most hapless franchise in the sport. Barely. 

The Patriots are 5-0 against the Jets since the beginning of the 2021 season. They’re 14-18 against everybody else. Since 2000, the Jets have managed to win only 10 times in 47 tries. That’s a .213 average, bad enough to get anybody outside of Kiké Hernández benched in this town.

So, is there anything positive to take from the team’s first win of the 2023 season, a soggy and tedious result that came down to a batted-down Hail Mary on the final play of the game? Hardly. 

But there is some level of comfort in understanding that, even with morale in Foxborough as low as it has been in decades, the Patriots are not to the level of woe that their rivals have grown accustomed to in East Rutherford, N.J. 

It’s usually a simple exercise to ridicule Jets faithful. No other franchise in modern American professional sports can claim the sort of buffoonery and misfortune that have defined the New York Jets, now losers of 15-straight against the Patriots dating back to 2015. The last time the Jets beat New England, Matt Lauer was still hosting the Today Show and Rian Johnson had yet to anger any space nerds. Gasoline averaged $2.61 per gallon. 

It’s been a while. 

The Jets have had more basement finishes this side of the Red Sox over the last decade. Future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers was supposed to take some of that stink off this season by summoning the quarterback role from Zach Wilson, who is no more qualified to be on a football field than Lucas Blye was when he was nearly decapitated trying to impress Kerri Green. (Admittedly, there are worse reasons to do something…)

My son and I were seated in Section 344 for Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium. I’m not sure I can remember hearing such New York vitriol aimed at a single player since John Rocker. 

Remember, this was the first game the Jets played at home with Wilson as their expected starter. But the anger and despair had been building since the moment Rodgers went down for the season with an Achilles injury two weeks ago against the Bills. 

This clown? Again?

As if to add a twist of character development to the self-penned script though, Wilson has managed to get even worse. This is, after all, a man who did everything but recite “criss-cross applesauce” as he was politely taking a seat for Patriot defenders on Sunday. Every down brought with it a greater sense of desperation in the wet stands at MetLife, which opened the season pumping a false bravado that said the Jets were Super Bowl contenders. Now, instead of Aaron Rodgers, they get to watch Ryan Leaf. It would be easy to laugh at if it all weren’t so damned relatable. 

Nevertheless, Jets head coach Robert Saleh said after Sunday’s loss that he is sticking with the former No. 2 pick as his quarterback for the time being. 

“Yeah, he’s fine,” Saleh said. 

Jets owner Woody Johnson should have fired Saleh on the spot. 

That’s the sort of knee-jerk reaction some Patriot fans were hoping an 0-3 start would have prompted from team owner Robert Kraft. The Belichick Regime has an expiration date, one that some feel should be accelerated due to the state of the franchise, firmly rooted in neutral. But are you really prepared for the alternative to what was, for better or worse, a consistent program over the last two decades? Maybe you’d like to participate in the quarterback carousel that is the Indianapolis Colts. Perhaps you’re ready to hire the next offensive whiz kid until you realize he’s Brandon Staley. This is a decision that will change the face of the $6.4 billion franchise. Is that something you can manage to risk during a slow couple weeks of the season? 

Of course, if you let the decision fester too long, the other path is that you eventually also become the New York Jets. 

Jets fans know. They’ve seemingly settled into their annual admission that this season is yet another lost cause, this time coming to the conclusion a lot earlier — and more painfully — than in the past. Some tags you just can’t shake, even if you’re the exalted champions of Super Bowl III. 

The Patriots aren’t to that level of despair. Yet. 

But they’re a lot closer than some want to insist they’re not. 


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