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A New Look At New England

Moving on from the one week showdown.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

"Winning this game won't make us. Losing this game won't break us." Todd Bowles is taking the much needed practical approach ahead of his first Jets-Patriots head coaching experience. After several years of being considered the NFL's circus team, the Jets have desperately needed some stability and a sense of realism, particularly in the week leading up to the New England Patriots.

Ever since Rex Ryan declared in his opening press conference 6 years ago that he "wasn't going to kiss Bill Belichick's rings", defeating the Patriots became something of an excessive infatuation. Some speculate that's part of the reason why Rex took the Buffalo job in the first place; 2 more chances every year of trying to steal Brady's spotlight. In their first matchup this year, Brady torched Rex's defense for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Prior to that game, the Bills employed a pretty ridiculous marketing campaign, selling air pumps to fans in attendance. Would they have done that if Rex wasn't the coach? Obviously impossible to answer. I don't think anyone would call you crazy if you said probably not, though. He called out fans to make it "the loudest game he's ever been apart of". It's that same Patriots-complex that Rex developed as his culture during his tenure with the Jets.

Todd Bowles has brought a new culture that focuses on the bigger picture, not a one week showdown. He's stressed the team has not accomplished anything after 4 wins. The players aren't being coddled or told how spectacular they are, despite owning #1 ranks in rushing offense, total defense, yardage differential, sacks allowed and red zone defense. Todd's message? "We need to get better." Most importantly, he's shown the ability to adapt his personnel appropriately (i.e. 4-3 against Washington), while also making necessary in-game adjustments that have lead the Jets to outscore opponents 34-0 in the 3rd quarter.

The ra-ra of Rex was great for two years. I don't want to take anything away from what Rex accomplished as the Jets head coach. The 2010 Divisional game against the Patriots was arguably the best win in franchise history other than Super Bowl III. However, Rex's act wore thin and his obsession with the Patriots even thinner. It's refreshing to see this team approaching this game as business as usual, even if it is for first place in the division. The extra drama does nothing for a team other than distract them from the game plan at hand. Sunday is the first measuring stick for how competitive this Jets team really is. 100% focus is paramount for the defending champs.