Following in the footsteps of Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez, head coach Rex Ryan has now been voted the most overrated coach in the NFL. One NFL player who requested anonymity said (via Rodger Sherman of SB Nation New York):
His coaching style is over the top. Some of the things he does in front of the cameras are way over the top. You put that with the New York media and he has a pretty big reputation, I guess. I don't even know if you'd call him overrated anymore because it's gonna be a couple of years since he was in the AFC finals. He's pretty funny, and he's a pretty good coach. But not that good.
I find nothing disagreeable in that quote. My issue is with the strange definition of the word "overrated" that has suddenly emerged in sports culture.
Something is supposed to be considered overrated if it is viewed as better than it is—for example, viewed as good when it is actually bad. For some reason, we are dropping half of that definition and just calling things overrated when they are bad.
How can Sanchez be the most overrated quarterback when he is universally maligned more than any other player in the NFL?
How can Ryan be the most overrated coach when the national media is calling for him to be fired? If Ryan is overrated as a coach then rotten eggs are overrated as a snack food.
Second place in the voting was another coach from the AFC East, Bill Belichick. This is at least a valid vote. Considered by many to be the best coach in the league, it is coherent to talk about Belichick being overrated (personally, I would not cast my vote for Belichick).
The Jets at 3-5 are outperforming most experts' preseason expectations, so it would be more reasonable to call them underrated. They are a middle-of-the-pack team being discussed in the same sentence as the Cleveland Browns. That makes them underrated if we are going to use the English language correctly.
If you remember one thing, please make it this: Overrated does not mean bad. It means overrated.