They can’t stand one another, but in many ways, the Jets and Dolphins are mirror images.
Both like to run the ball, stop the run, and generally bludgeon their opposition into submission.
However, when the conversation switches from philosophy to personality, they couldn’t be any more different.
One on end of the spectrum stands Rex Ryan, the bombastic Jets coach who’s willing to say most anything.
On the other is Joe Philbin, who runs so tight a ship that, as he admitted late last week, he’s willing to fine players who talk trash in the media.
“I think it starts at the top,” Dolphins receiver Legedu Naanee said. “It definitely starts with the leadership on the team, and the overall goal, with what this team wants to get done.
“We know that doing all that stuff isn’t going to help you on Sunday.”
On this particular Sunday, the cerebral Philbin gets his first introduction to Ryan and his swaggering Jets, with Sun Life Stadium hosting the 94th incarnation of a rivalry that dates back four decades.
Controversy seems to follow New York’s AFC team wherever it goes, and it’s fashionable to call the Jets a circus. But that might be unfair — to the circus.
The Jets are chaotic at best.
Need proof? Just take the past seven days.
The week began with tabloid chatter over starting quarterback Mark Sanchez’s flavor of the week (Eva Longoria) and whether their backup quarterback is contemplating a future run for office.
And it ended with the Jets’ star linebacker, Bart Scott, threatening violence against a reporter during a profanity-laced tirade in the locker room.
In South Florida, the closest thing to a dustup came when Brian Hartline made an off-handed comment about Tim Tebow that some deemed insufficiently reverential, causing Hartline to spend the next 24 hours insisting he meant no ill will.
Even verbal broadsides from New York, such as Santonio Holmes’ assertion that the Dolphins’ secondary is ripe for the pillaging, were met with a collective shrug here.
“That’s just not the kind of team we are,” said Hartline, looking to build on his nine-catch outing from a week ago. “We represent our leadership, and coach Philbin’s not that kind of guy and we’re not that kind of team. We go about our business in a different way.”
Added running back Reggie Bush: “I think the character of our team is a lot different from, say, the Jets. [We let] our play do the talking and not worry about anything that’s said in the media.”
It’s in their financial best interest to do so.
Philbin is such a stickler that, in the moments after Bush’s 172-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Raiders, the coach instructed his star tailback on what to say to the media.
Philbin told Bush to praise not himself but the Dolphins’ offensive line during Bush’s postgame news conference; Bush dutifully complied.
“It probably came from my parents,” Philbin said when asked about the roots of his “shut up and play” worldview.
“You’re supposed to do the best you can do and if you’re good at something, someone should recognize that, as opposed to you telling, ‘I’m this or I’m that.’ There’s still some merit in humility.”
With a win Sunday, the Dolphins won’t have to worry about talking. Plenty of others will do it for them.
The Dolphins and Jets are part of a four-way logjam at 1-1 in the AFC East, and a win not only would keep Miami atop the standings, but it also might suggest that last week’s shellacking of Oakland was no fluke.
But for sure, it would mute (at least temporarily) the Jets — not to mention their army of fans who live in South Florida.
“The atmosphere is going to be crazy,” safety Chris Clemons said. “We’re going to feed off that.”