The back and forth between the Jets and Dolphins running back Reggie Bush continued this week with the teams squaring off in the Meadowlands on Sunday. But while we'll have to wait and see what unfolds between the lines, Bush and the Fins already have a leg up in the battle of wits.
The verbal barbs exchanged between the two teams this season center around their Sept. 23 meeting, during which Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis tore his ACL. Although the Jets walked away with a 23-20 overtime win, the impact going forward was obvious, and Bush wanted to pass along a message of "what goes around, comes around" to Rex Ryan's typically outspoken bunch.
"They talked about all week about putting hot sauce and this and that, and they ended up losing their best player for the rest of the season," Bush said after the Sept. 23 contest, referencing a pregame comment made by Ryan in which the coach said the Jets wanted to put "hot sauce" on the running back.
Those in the Jets' locker room have hardly forgotten the feud with Bush, evidenced by some comments made this week.
Jets safety LaRon Landry was the first to throw a punch during this week's media availability, pointing out his hit on Bush that forced the running back to leave the teams' last matchup.
"He will remember that hit," Landry said. "Every time he sees me, he will remember that hit."
Fair enough. Not only is Landry entitled to his opinion, but it's entirely possible Bush will remember the hit he received from the physically imposing defensive back whenever he attempts to slice and dice the Jets' defense this Sunday. Landy should have stopped there, though, rather than continuing on with comments that serve no purpose other than to ruffle feathers.
"If I get penalized, I'm not going to stop hitting or head hunting," Landry said. "I'm not going to stop the way I play."
Now, this won't shock you, but football is a physical game. Therefore, talks of "going to war," "fighting," or "playing physical" all deserve some leeway, even if the mothers of the world might not want to hear such terms. However, given the ongoing Bountygate debacle and the major emphasis on player safety, Landry's comments not only do little to give the Jets a competitive edge, but they could prove costly.
Landry's teammate, Aaron Maybin, only made matters worse with his stroke of genius.
"We want to knock him out, but we're out to do it legally," Maybin said of Bush.
While it's nice that Maybin has aggreed to play within the confines of the rules, the "legally" caveat does little to soften the point that the Jets are gunning for Bush on Sunday. Again, with Bountygate, the concussion pandemic and the history between the two teams, Maybin's remark isn't exactly the smoothest move.
Not only do such comments have the potential to backfire when it comes to bulletin board material, but the league will undoubtedly take notice of such behavior for all the reasons mentioned. Player safety, in general, is such a hot button topic nowadays that any mention of knocking players out or head-hunting isn't going to go over well.
Does that mean someone on the Jets' defense is inevitably going to receive some sort of punishment should Bush have a few solid licks put on him Sunday? Not exactly. But the entire unit has now been placed under a microscope because of the pregame tough talk, and the Jets have no one to blame but themselves.
Landry and Maybin may have placed a target on Reggie Bush's back, but it's not quite as big as the one the league may have just placed on the Jets' defense.