Rex Ryan has drawn first blood on his twin brother, Rob, as the brothers get set to resume their sibling rivalry Sunday in Cleveland.
“Blow darts have hit a picture of Eric [Mangini], Colt [McCoy] and then I have about 14 of them on me,” said Rob Ryan, the Browns defensive coordinator. “I’m taking offense to it and we’re going to have some retaliatory reactions to it later in the week.”
Rex, the 47-year-old Jets head coach who is about five minutes older than Rob, might be having some fun targeting his upcoming opponent. But more often than not, the Ryan brothers have worked as a team. Asked today for his favorite story on the pair, Rob Ryan recalled a baseball game in Chicago when Rex was at the plate against a highly touted pitcher and needed some visionary help.
“He was only playing with one contact lens, so he said, ‘Rob, give me your left contact.’ So I give it to him, he plucks it in his eye and goes up and smashes a home run. I think the thing is still going — I think they found it in Cuba somewhere,” said Rob. “So he circles the bases and comes in with a big smile on his face. He goes, ‘You want that contact back?’ And I said, ‘Nah, you can keep it.’ ”
Rob liked the outcome of his matchup with Rex back in 1998 when he served as Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator and the latter served as the Oklahoma Sooners’ defensive leader. The final was 41-26 as the homestanding Cowboys scored on six of their first seven second-half possessions against OU and captured their first home win over their rival since 1966.
“We know he’s going to get our best shot and we know we’re going to get his. It will be a great game and hopefully it’s not like one of those games when he was a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma and I was a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State,” said the younger Ryan. “We ended up winning that game and tore down the goalposts, but by the end of it we were trying to convince everybody that we were the offensive coordinators, not the defensive coordinators.”
Later in the week the two will shut down their lines of communication as kickoff nears, but this will be a rare occurrence for Buddy Ryan’s twin sons.
“We talk all the time. We’re as close as you can be. I don’t think there is any pair of brothers closer than we are,” said Rob. “We had our own language when we were kids growing up. If you fought one of us, you had to be real tough because you fought both of us. I don’t think we ever lost any fights because hell, we were always 2-on-1 or whatever it was so we found a way to win.”
They both will come into this matchup riding high. Rex has his club 6-2 after appearing in the AFC Championship Game last year while Rob is coordinating a defense that just held Tom Brady to 224 yards passing and intercepted Drew Brees four times in back-to-back wins over the Patriots and the Saints.
“I think we’re starting to turn the corner with our team,” said Rob, who is helping former Jets boss Eric Mangini hold opposition to 19.5 points a game. “We beat New Orleans and we beat New England the last two weeks. I believe that makes us 7-5 over the last 12 games, but our team is definitely on the upswing. We’re looking to keep going and to do better things.”
The success Rex has experienced as a head coach figures to make Rob an attractive head coaching candidate himself.
“If you paint a picture of a head coach, you usually have some pretty boy nowadays,” Rob Ryan said, “I don’t think me or Rex, or my dad, for that matter, are male models by any stretch. But we’re damn good football coaches.”
Checking on Rankings
With the Steelers-Bengals Monday night game ending Week 9, we can now say officially that the Jets’ offense keeps rising. After finishing strong with 437 yards, not to mention the overtime win at Detroit, the Jets rank 12th in total yards gained per game, the highest ranking of the Mark Sanchez era with the exception of Week 1 of last season, when they were tied for third after gaining 462 yards in their opener at Houston.
The Jets passing offense also made a jump after Sanchez had the first 300-yard passing game of his pro career, 336 in all vs. the Lions. The 20th ranking is still modest, but it’s the highest ranking of the past 24 weeks and comes four weeks after the Jets were 32nd and last in net passing yards per game.
Three other rankings of note today: The overall defense is rated sixth, its highest of the season. The Jets’ yardage differential has risen to eighth, the highest of the season. But the team that once led the league in turnover margin, has fallen from plus-11 to plus-5 the last three games, dropping the Green & White to a ninth-place tie, their worst turnover margin ranking of the year.
Texans Game Stays Put
It’s the time of the season when the schedule gets flexed. But we can tell you today that the Jets’ return-home Nov. 21 game against the Houston Texans at New Meadowlands Stadium, originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. EST kickoff, will remain at 1 p.m.
Tags: Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini, Houston Texans, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan
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