First episode of Hard Knocks proves the Patriots are still in the Jets' heads

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons
Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The conversation surrounding the AFC East over the last three years has made the Patriots the brunt of the joke. Because they lost Tom Brady in 2020 and have been rebuilding the team since the other teams in the division have become more successful and not just victims in the path of New England's climb to the top.

The Bills, of course, have become the new leaders, replacing the Patriots atop the division, with the Dolphins not far behind. But because of the Jets' massive trade for one-time Super Bowl Champion Aaron Rodgers earlier this year, New York has become the general favorite among bettors of which team in the AFCE will not only win the division but also likely a Super Bowl.

With this sentiment becoming more popular as the offseason has progressed, the Patriots have slid down the rankings and been unanimously awarded the fourth-place position, eliminating them from any sort of competition or success for the 2023 season.

After the lackluster performance from the offense last year, it's not shocking to see them get written off before the upcoming season even begins, with some even deciding the Patriots are the joke of the division now. But things got a little interesting this week when the new season of Hard Knocks debuted on HBO Max.

After complaining and whining about not wanting to be featured on the show, the first episode of the season debuted featuring the Jets, and there were some telling moments shown already.

The most prominent moment that got people talking was seeing defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich conducting a meeting discussing the season ahead and basically the philosophy the Jets want to have for 2023.

Unable to keep it strictly about their team and what they hope to accomplish, Ulbrich took the opportunity to take a shot at the Patriots for their well-known mantra of "Do your job," mocking its meaning and usage by New England.

"It’s the mantra of our defense: Make a (expletive) earn every yard. Do my job — is that good enough? (Expletive) no. That’s the rest of the NFL, isn’t it? ‘Do your job.’ (Expletive) that. Do your job, then now what? If we all do our job and a (expletive) little bit more, that’s 22 (players) playing. You guys feel it? Think about this. That’s 22 (expletives) on the field. So then the question goes to the offense — now what?"

If the Patriots are a team not to worry about at their current state, and the Jets are so comfortable and confident with their team, why even allude to anything about the team?

The good thing is, although it can certainly become bulletin board material at Gillette Stadium, it's clear Ulbrich is still embarrassed from his most infamous meeting with the Patriots from Super Bowl 51.

During that time, he was the Falcons' linebackers coach, and we all saw the dramatic collapse of the Atlanta defense in NRG Stadium, which helped the Patriots accomplish their comeback when they were down 28-3 at the end of the third quarter.

Perhaps that still bothers Ulbrich seven years later, hence his jabbing at the Patriots still to this day. But no matter what it is, it may become one of the biggest mistakes he made this offseason, knowing the moment was filmed, and the divisional opponent could see it.