Sheldon Richardson was the perfect Rex Ryan player before he’d even been to his first NFL Draft combine.
Before Missouri’s SEC home debut against the Georgia Bulldogs, Richardson scoffed at UGA’s “old man football”. He was referring to their slow, plodding pace in an increasingly up-tempo football world.
Mark Richt may be coaching a Vh1 Soul playbook in a techno remix world, but on Sept. 8, 2012 Missouri was feeling the blues after UGA him 'em with that old man strength for 60 minutes. Somewhere Rex Ryan was watching and probably thought that was his guy.
Flash forward 13 months later and Richardson is considered the best rookie in all of the NFL by some experts. Not defensive rookie or Jets rookie – the entire league is Richardson’s oyster.
Ironically, describing the Jets offense as an old man would be a compliment. If Ryan had his way, they'd br running the triple option in leather helmets and 220-pound offensive linemen. Rex Ryan’s run-first, punt-second, throw-third offense has taken more risks this season, it’s still a constant struggle to watch Geno and the gang matriculate the ball down the field. Fortunately, the Jets defense has managed to overcome the NFL's fourth-lowest scoring offense.
Pairing the garrulous young defensive tackle with a loquacious defensive genius was a brilliant stroke that’s paid dividends. The Jets are currently the NFL’s second-ranked scoring defense, boast the stingiest run defense in the league and are fifth in sacks.
Using the New York City media machine as his platform, Richardson is mouthing off again before a pivotal matchup. This time, the target is Tom Brady.
"I'm not treating him like Superman," Richardson said on Thursday "He's Tom Brady; I'm Sheldon Richardson. He's a name. He's a figure, a franchise player. I'm trying to get after him, simple as that. No one really treats him like [Superman] around here. I think he's the complete opposite of that.
If only Richardson would come out of his shell. What’s the complete opposite of Superman anyways? Courtney Brown?
It’s probably not the best policy to give Brady any extra motivational tools. Every win by the Jets aids Ryan’s mission to keep his job past this season. Just one week, after Brady turned a distresses Rob Ryan into a meme, Rex rolls into town for vengeance.
If Sheldon Richardson and the Jets defensive line can keep Brady off the field, out of the end zone and hand him a Sunday L, Ryan might get a Richardson tattoo to match the mark of Sanchez on his right bicep.
If Brady improves to 8-3 all-time vs. Ryan, the Jets will slip out of the AFC East and Wild Card race, Richardson will be shamed into spending the rest of the year staying out of the headlines and Ryan will inch closer to being out of a job.