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Talk Is Cheap

I could not be happier that game time is almost here so we don't have to hear any more pregame chatter. It's not that I mind the back and forth between the teams (well it's really the Jets doing most of the talking). I'm just tired of hearing the media talk about that and nothing else. It makes for a great storyline to drum up hype. It just really doesn't make a difference. What happens on the field is all that matters.

Discussing what is said during the week makes life easy for a lot of sportswriters. It gives them something to fill space with. It is much easier to talk about what a certain player might have said than it is to actually do research and talk about the real matchup (cough, cough Ian O'Connor). We've heard plenty of the theory  that the Jets have provided the Patriots and Tom Brady in particular "extra motivation."

The reality is that the Jets were never going to sneak up on Brady. The guy is one of the greatest players to ever take the field. They were never going to see anything less than Brady's best shot and his full motivation to win. That is why he has won three Super Bowls. Extra motivation might come into play if it was Week 9, the Jets were 0-9, and the Pats were 9-0. Then there might be a tendency to overlook an opponent and regain one's focus because of smack talk. A team playing for its life against a bitter rival? It really doesn't square with logic such a team would be giving anything less than a full and focused effort, especially a player like Brady who always brings it in big games anyway and wants to win more than anything else. Even if it was a guy like Cromartie, who can be very inconsistent, I could buy extra motivation helping. It's just lazy sportswriter talk in this case. Extra motivation has become an accepted fact in sportswriter language even though it really doesn't have any logical base.

If you want to tell me, all of New York's talking will make a victory much sweeter than it would have been otherwise for the Patriots, I would agree. If you want to tell me that they will continue to throw the ball down the field with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter even if they are up by 20+ points tomorrow, I would agree with that too. I do not believe it takes Antonio Cromartie or Rex Ryan saying something, though, for Brady to be at his best and give his best effort.

I'll talk more about this storyline if you join me after the jump.

Part of this hype goes into the convenient storyline that the Jets are the low class loudmouthed team and the Patriots are the high class team that only talks on the field. Again, it's a convenient storyline, but it isn't really true.

  • Just this week, Wes Welker mentioned feet 11 times in one press conference to tweak Rex Ryan.
  • Earlier this year, Tom Brady took a swipe at the Ravens after a victory, saying that Baltimore talks a lot for a team that has beaten the Pats once in nine years. If you do your talking on the field, why rub it in to the press?
  • The Pats taunted the Chargers after a win in the 2006 Playoffs at San Diego. The Chargers responded by losing to New England twice the next year, including once in the Playoffs, despite all of the "extra motivation" this provided.
  • With 30 seconds left in a Week 11 game last year, the Pats threw a deep ball down the left sideline to Randy Moss, covered by Darrelle Revis. Revis and Moss had been trading barbs all week. One could surmise that was attempting to prove a point as the Pats were ahead by 17 points in the final minute. Maybe this was "talking on the field" since it took place on the field, but I'm not sure it's exactly taking the high road if you believe simply winning the game is the ultimate payback.
  • Brady himself told the media that he hates the Jets this summer.
  • And finally, if we are going to talk about a team making predictions, how about ownership applying to trademark "19-0" before taking the field against the Giants in Super Bowl XLII?

You know what else? There's nothing wrong with any of that. The Welker stuff was  pretty funny to anybody with a sense of humor. Brady should hate the Jets just like the Jets should hate them. And you can do whatever you want when you win. If the Pats want to rub it in if they beat the Jets Sunday, they can. If they really only cared about the scoreboard, they wouldn't.

We heard plenty about "talking on the field" and "extra motivation" before Week 2 last year. The Jets pounded the Pats. One team talking doesn't automatically make the other one better. Game planning and execution are what really matters. Remember the Super Bowl where Tom Brady laughed at Plaxico Burress' prediction that the Giants defense would hold him to 17 points? Brady was so fueled that his offense actually only scored 14. What happened to his "extra motivation" there? The Giants outexecuted New England. Contrary to what some writers might have told you, the Pats didn't get any extra points as a bonus because the Giants talked. I kind of hope the Patriots are paying a lot of attention to what the Jets are saying because every second they are doing that is a second they are not watching film and figuring out how to attack New York.

The Jets know the most important talking is done on the field also. If they lose on Sunday, they won't care about things their players might have said. They will be bitterly disappointed because they lost the game on the field. So will we. If the Pats win, it will be because they are the better team, not because the Jets talked more during the week. Gang Green might have done more controversial talking this week, but the Pats know a team can be successful even if it partakes in some extra silliness.

As Brady himself once said, "Talk is cheap." It goes both ways.