EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When a bully is in an ornery mood, and runs into a pipsqueak on the playground, the outcome is going to resemble what happened Sunday between the New York Jets and Luke McCown.
A cover-your-eyes beatdown.
The Jets had McCown so rattled in their 32-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars that he might need an intervention from Dr. Phil. The journeyman quarterback threw four interceptions and finished with a 1.8 passer rating -- oh, so close to the dreaded Blutarsky rating, 0.0.
Ah, but it wasn't a perfect day for the Jets' defense. No, they longed for a piece of the Jaguars' big-mouth wide receiver, Jason Hill, who sat out with a hip injury.
"I was in tears that he didn't play," cracked cornerback Darrelle Revis, whom Hill suggested was an "overhyped" product of the New York media. "If you're going to trash talk, at least show up and play so you can prove yourself, and he didn't. I'm going to give him advice for the future: When you call out people, make sure you show up and play."
Yep, the Jets sure enjoyed a good laugh, mocking Hill's ill-advised comments to a Florida newspaper. They insisted they were more bemused than irked by the remarks, yet Rex Ryan felt compelled to mention the quotes Saturday night in his speech to the team, according to players.
It was an R-rated motivational talk, they said, and it was directed mainly at the offensive line and defense. It was Ryan's way of challenging them. For the latter unit, it was piling on. After a sloppy performance in the season opener, the defense was subjected to a week of tough love from the coaching staff.
They got tired of hearing it, and unleashed their frustration on the Jaguars.
"It wasn't like I was flinching," said Ryan, when asked if the bounce-back was reassuring. "I know where this defense will end up -- where it always does. It was great to see them respond."
They didn't change the scheme, just the attitude.
Truth be told, the Jets ran a relatively vanilla defense, using mostly three- and four-man rushes. In fact, Muhammad Wilkerson's first career sack -- a first-quarter safety -- came on a three-man rush. They emphasized coverage, figuring that would be enough to handle McCown and the Jaguars' minor-league passing game.
Let's be honest: The Jets probably could've played a man down.
McCown's 1.8 rating was the lowest ever by a quarterback against the Jets. Repeat: Ever. During the third quarter, Revis looked up at the scoreboard and saw a McCown graphic that showed a 6.4 rating. He did a double-take.
"I was like, 'Wow, that's crazy,'" Revis said. "That's kind of mind boggling." Told the final number was 1.8, Revis said, "That's sweet. That's a rough day."
Days don't get much worse for quarterbacks. It was the lowest rating (based on at least 15 attempts) since Trent Dilfer, playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pulled a 0.0 in 1997.
"It was one of those deals where it was nothing they were doing, I was just off today," said McCown, a remark almost as inane as Hill's "overhyped" quote. "I was just off today."
He sounded like A.J. Burnett. Sorry, but the Jets' defense owned McCown, who was finally pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of hot-shot rookie Blaine Gabbert. With McCown in the lineup, the Jaguars ran only 10 plays in Jets territory and never got closer than the Jets' 28-yard line.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie recorded two interceptions, a nice rebound after last week's shakedown. Eric Smith added another interception (he could've had three) and the immortal Josh Mauga, a backup linebacker, made the first interception of his career.
That was "painful," as Ryan put it. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine scolded his unit the other day, basically saying what Jason Hill did in the papers: It was overhyped. How's that for irony? Hearing it from your coach carries more weight than from an opponent, especially a no-name opponent, and the Jets got back to business.
But let's hold off on the coronation. Not only did the Jets beat up a soon-to-be-backup-again quarterback, but they faced a team that didn't have its best weapon in the passing game, tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf).
All the Jets had to do was key on the Jaguars' running game, and they did that by employing eight-man fronts. They even played some "46" defense, the once-famous scheme created by Ryan's father, Buddy. They put the game in McCown's hands, and he freaked out.
Message to Mr. Hill: The Jets aren't overhyped.
"Overhyped, underhyped, it doesn't really matter," Leonhard said. "We won a football game. We're 2-0. We're exactly where we expected to be and needed to be."