Monday Morning Quarterback's Jenny Vrentas sat down with the Ryan brothers up in Buffalo to get an inside look at the dynamic of twins running a team. Rex is the head coach of the Bills and Rob is the assistant head coach; Rob is a former Patriots coach under Bill Belichick.
The interview itself is superb and interesting and I highly recommend a full read because there's a ton of important information. Both coaches talk about their journeys and what they've learned to get where they are, and Rex admits a couple mistakes from 2015.
Rob speaks at length about his experience in New England and what he learned as a growing coach. For Rob, he has a key takeaway from every coaching stop in the NFL, whether it's the 3-4 from Belichick or the speedy defense with the Al Davis Raiders, and he implements everything in his new system.
Rex also had plenty of great things to say about Belichick.
"When you are young coaches, you are always learning," Rex said. "We grew up under the arm of our dad, who was a creative innovator in the way he approached things, and that’s where we got our foundation.
"Rob is under Bill Belichick. Well Bill Belichick, this just in, pretty damn good football coach. Now you have a different way of looking at things. The whole time you are trying to cultivate who you are as a coach. It is just like growing up in society, what you have seen and been around, that’s going to form who you are and the way you do things."
There's a chance that Rex is hoping that Rob has some insight into the Patriots because Rex holds a 4-11 record against Belichick. Or perhaps Rex is hoping that Rob can bring a different coaching approach to the Bills, that is more in line with the mold that Belichick loves in his coaches.
"Nobody grinds the way Rob does," Rex Ryan said. "Bill Belichick hired Rob for one reason: He knew he was a freaking great football coach, and he could grind. That’s it.
"If you are going to be with Bill Belichick, you better be a grinder. You look at Brian Daboll; you look at Josh [McDaniels]; you look at some of the guys they’ve had. They are real football coaches. A lot of them come from coaching families. He wants the grinders."
But don't expect Rob to pretend that he has all the answers.
"Do you know all the Patriots’ secrets?," Vrentas asked Rob.
"Absolutely not," Rob replied. "All the respect in the world for Bill Belichick. That was fantastic training working for him for four years, and I learned a ton.
"Look, he is the No. 1 nemesis of every coach in this league. So it’s not just Rex. Now, I think if you ask their offensive staff, the worst they ever play is against Rex. People say, 'well, he hasn’t beat them [nine out of the last 10] tries.' Yeah, well, he has beat the hell out of that offense. I am sure the respect is mutual."
And for this point, I have to concede that Rex is one of the most dominant coaches when it comes to slowing down the Patriots offense; it also reveals Rex's blind spot as a head coach.
Rex can concoct an amazing defense, but he will ignore his offense.
Since becoming the Jets head coach and 2009, and including his past season with the Bills, Rex has limited Brady to a completion rate of 60.1%, the lowest rate of any opponent with three or more games over that time frame.
Rex has also limited the Patriots to 3.63 yards per carry on the ground, which trails two familiar teams: the Chargers (3.09 YPC over three games) and the Ravens (3.33 YPC over eight games).
The Ravens are where Rex made his name as a defensive mastermind, and the team continues to give the Patriots trouble. The Chargers defensive coordinator is John Pagano, brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano who served as Rex Ryan's secondary coach in Baltimore.
But the reality is that the Giants are the only team to give the Patriots more trouble since 2009, holding the Patriots to a ghastly 21.3 points per game, and that is just over three games compared to the 15 games coached by Rex.
The Patriots have averaged 30 points per game since 2009, and the Ravens and Rex have been the two most disruptive opponents when it comes to the Patriots offense. The Patriots average just 27.3 points per game against Rex.
When you look at the other side of the ball, you notice that the Patriots defense has allowed 20.3 points per game over that time frame. Rex has only managed to post 19.8 points per game against the Patriots, or half a point less than the Patriots average opponent.
If Rex and Rob want to beat the Patriots, they're going to have to put together an average offense. With Rob on defense, perhaps Rex can give the offense more attention. Based on the interview, it seems like the Ryan brothers are hitting the same bullet points as Rex has in the past.
"I have worked for Belichick, who is the best head coach in football, in the history of the game," Rob Ryan said. "But we’re going to beat him, and we’re going to beat him together."
"It’s two against one," Rob said. "[Belichick] one on one against any coach in the league, that guy is pretty damn good. And he’s also got his best buddy Tom Brady with him. He trained him, and he single-handedly made him great as well."
You'll note that Rob has adopted Rex's needling desire to get under Brady's skin by portraying the quarterback as simply the product of Belichick, instead of being the greatest of all time on his own volition.
The interview ends with a sweet point about the two brothers coaching together with their father watching them, and you kind of want to root for them to succeed.
VRENTAS: What does your dad think about the two of you coaching together?
ROB: He’s struggling (health-wise). That’s another reason…
REX: …we’re going for broke, man.
ROB: Because, who knows? He’s not going to be able to watch us coach for much longer, I don’t think. But hopefully he can see this one, because we have got big plans. Bring Belichick on. We got him.
The Ryan brothers will be one of the more intriguing storylines of the 2016 season. Let's hope the Patriots can continue to disrupt their storybook ending.