- Stephen A. Smith, ESPNNewYork.com columnist
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Now that we've been reminded of what champions are made of, that they back up their words with action, there's another reason to celebrate the New York Giants' second Super Bowl title in four years.
The validation of Eli Manning as one of the game's elite quarterbacks has been talked about enough. So has the steady influence and discipline of the game's most celebrated drill sergeant, Tom Coughlin. But as we all reflect on the Giants' admirable resolve, one can't help but think about that dysfunctional bunch known as the New York Jets.
Let's hope they took copious notes along the way. Lord knows they needed to.
The days of Rex Ryan bragging about having the best team in New York are officially over. Nobody wants to hear about his two consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game anymore. That means nothing now.
It meant nothing once the Jets lost to the Giants in the next-to-last week of the season. It meant nothing once the Jets ended up missing the playoffs and the Giants trounced the Dallas Cowboys to get in. And while the Giants followed that up with playoff victories over the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and, ultimately, a Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots, you didn't hear a peep about the Jets.
"This isn't about bragging rights. This is a lot bigger," Manning explained to reporters after winning Super Bowl XLVI. "This is about a team, an organization being named world champions."
Manning was dismissing comparisons being made between him and his big brother, Peyton. But Eli could've easily been surmising the difference between New York's dominant Big Brothers and the perennial Little Brothers in green.
The Giants bucked the odds by capturing the NFC East crown, beating the vaunted Packers, then a tough 49ers defense, followed by upending Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the title game for a second time.
Who's fooling whom here?
Since the day Ryan arrived, he's stolen headlines. At one time, it was actually enjoyable and relevant. But after watching the Jets this season and contrasting them with the Giants, they really should just go away for a while. That just seems to be the decent thing to do.
During their 8-8 season, we witnessed Sanchez and the running game regress, and the offensive line allowed 12 more sacks than it did the previous season. We also saw the Jets fall apart on defense -- the area Ryan supposedly hangs his hat on.
Add it all up and what you have is a team that couldn't pass too well, couldn't rush at all, barely defended against the rush, gave up entirely too many points and, oh, by the way, gave up 12 more sacks than it did in 2010.
Yet, here's what Rex Ryan elected to use as a focal point for the Jets' offseason agenda: "I think they're actually going to get together," Ryan explained last Friday in Indianapolis, alluding to the allegedly feuding Holmes and Sanchez. "Look, we're all disappointed at the way the season went. That's the one thing we have in common. We also have a burning desire to win, to right the ship."
No argument here!
Coughlin and Manning had the same desire after missing the postseason for two consecutive years. Despite coming off two plus-4,000-passing-yard seasons, Manning knew he needed to do more. Cutting down on interceptions, controlling the ball more, maturing into more of a leader and eliminating potential distractions ended up working wonders for him.
Leadership. We can only hope that's what Ryan is working on, too.
The fact is, we simply don't know.
Ryan's rhetoric has gotten old. So has his coddling of the emotionally sensitive Sanchez. Combine all of that with the temperamental Holmes, who's now guaranteed $15.25 million over the next two seasons -- and who, by the way, was not alone in his frustration and lack of faith in Sanchez -- and what you have is a Jets team that resembles, well ... the same old Jets.
A team with decent-looking uniforms and serviceable talent, with a history of coming up short.
So what's the lesson in all of this?
Perhaps, instead of looking to compete with the Giants, the Jets should try stealing pages from their book.
If you're going to talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk.
It's clearly gotten the Giants somewhere. What do the Jets have to lose?
The Giants act like true champions. What does that say about the Jets?