Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Championship Of Each Other

With 11-year DE Shaun Ellis going from the Jets to the Patriots for a 1-year deal this week ($910K, the veteran minimum), the rivalry goes up a bit, don't you think? The inevitable juicy Rex Ryan quote is "The fact that he chose them... there's no way I'm going to wish him well... I don't want him to play that well." For the Pats, it's something of a no-brainer; if Ellis is spent, he won't cost them much, and if he's got one big Vengeance Year in him, that's money (very) well spent to upgrade the biggest problem on the roster. But it speaks to a bigger truth, really...

For years, the Patriots geared up to work the Colts like a speed bag. They built the line and backs to handle the Colt speed rushers, worked as many defensive looks into the mix as possible to save pick chances against Peyton Manning for late, and basically measured themselves against that team to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. The division was an afterthought, and while the Jets might look a little scary at times, they didn't concern that team more than, say, Baltimore or Pittsburgh.

Now? Not so much. And not just because the Colts are increasingly looking like a smoke and mirrors team that will fall to below .500 as soon as Manning The Greater

Darelle Revis got Randy Moss out of New England more than any other factor. Watching the Jets' ground game turn the Patriots into mush, a year after the Ravens did the same trick, prompted the risky Albert Haynesworth signing. Watching Mark Sanchez have all day to throw and complete the playoff comeback last year pushes the Ellis signing. They signed WR Chad Ochocinco not so much for what he can do against Revis (um, Chad's pretty horrible in those matchups), but how his name might draw Revis away from the actually productive parts of their passing game (the TEs and underneath game with WRs Wes Welker and Julian Edelman).

For better or ill, New York, you have the Empire's attention now. They also have your heart and soul guy for the past 11 years, and while he might be close to spent, he wasn't last year, when he was your best DLer on the field in that win in Foxboro.

And for the rest of the NFL, and the rest of the country that's more or less trapped in the 12 month Boston - New York - Red Sox - Yankees - Patriots - Jets - Celtics - Knicks - Bruins - Rangers clusterpluck... well, um? That's not ending. Potentially ever. But that's what we all want, right?

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