It was the kind of video and audio that will live on for the next day or four heading through the Sunday network pregame shows. Rex Ryan put on a blond wig, Browns cap and sweater, stuffed a pillow under the sweater — and voila! He was Rob Ryan, Cleveland defensive coordinator.
And when Rex removed his disguise, he made it sound as if Eric Mangini had already been made an honorary member of the Ryan family, a few hours after Mangini did the same on his conference call with Jets reporters when asked about his relationship with Rex.
For any serious football fans worried about what this might portend for Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, you don’t know the Ryan twins or Mangini, but Rex addressed those fears. “After today we’ll probably get down to business for the most part, and I think it’s going to be a great game, I really do,” he said. “They clearly want to run the ball and we pride ourselves in stopping the run. We finally get to play an old-fashioned football game.”
But mixed in with Rex’s football talk was more chat about his twin brother, Rob, and how Rob and Jets DC Mike Pettine are two of the most creative defensive minds in the NFL.
“He doesn’t worry about what a player can’t do. He focuses on what he can do,” Rex said. “When they put Mangini and Rob together, that’s quite a team, very similar to the team we have with Bob Sutton, Dennis Thurman and of course Mike Pettine. They let the creative juices flow.
“I will say this about my brother. In all truthfulness, he probably breaks down an opponent better than anybody I’ve ever been around. He’s a football junkie. He will know your tendencies from two years ago. That’s what we talked to Schotty about.”
In other words, Rex, would you betray your brother to your O-coordinator just to win a football game? The answer, obviously, is yes. But equally obvious is that Rex would love to coach some season in the future not against his brother but with him.
“Every year we put in for it,” Rex said about asking permission with the Browns the past two years to interview Rob as a Jets assistant. “They deny it. They say, ‘Come on, we’re not gonna let you do that. He’s not going to your place.’ But we make ‘em go through the paperwork anyway.”
That led Rex around to the Mangini, the man he replaced as Jets coach in January 2009. It’s not a secret but still may surprise some to know that the two are friends and had occasionally been confidants. It goes back to when Eric and Rob were assistant coaches on Bill Belichick’s first four New England staffs from 2000-03.
“What happens normally is when your brother’s on a different staff, you become close to those people as well. That’s basically how my relationship started with Eric,” Rex said. There were times when he was coaching, whether it was the Jets or New England when my brother was there, he’d call me, I’d call him. we’d bounce things off of each other.”
Ryan agreed that Mangini left the table set well when he took over the Jets’ controls.
“No question. He left great people in place here,” Rex said. “He made my job easier, the fact that there was a great foundation already set.”
Mangini on his first conference call with Jets reporters as the “enemy coach,” said the feeling is mutual.
“We’ve always hung out at the combine or any of the different sort of football-related things where we’d both be there,” said Mangini. “He’s a great guy. I love Rex.
“Even in talking to Mike [Tannenbaum] after I got let go, I thought Rex would be a great choice because you didn’t have to blow up the defense. You could still use those 3-4–based guys for what he did. It made a lot of sense and I thought Rex would do a good job and he has done a good job. He’s done a great job. He’s like his brother. They’re both funny. They’re both good people and they’re both outstanding football coaches.”
And so you’ll have to excuse today’s bit of football levity. It was fun to watch and listen to, great comic theater — and as soon as those news events were done, it was down to the business of trying to kick each other’s teeth in (sorry, Commissioner, just a metaphor) and win a football game in the process.
The Jets’ Wednesday injury report had a couple of serious-looking new issues as guard Matt Slauson (knee) and CB-ST Marquice Cole (hamstring). Both were held out of practice and spent much of the session on the stationary bike.
This could be especially troubling for Slauson because the second-year man has quieted any questions about filling the LG spot with strong play on the Jets’ talent-laden O-line. But both Rex Ryan and Slauson said whatever the state of his knee, it’s not bad enough to keep him sidelined for long.
“I guess the knee’s bothering him,” the coach said, “but I expect him to practice tomorrow.”
“I felt like I could’ve gone today,” Slauson said, “but the training staff said, ‘Let’s wait and use today as a kind of test.’ “
Slauson hurt his right knee on the very last offensive play of the Lions game, LaDainian Tomlinson’s positioning run for Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal.
Also for the Jets, Josh Mauga (hamstring) was limited while Calvin Pace and Darrelle Revis were full. LaDainian Tomlinson and Tony Richardson did not participate but they were both listed as non-injury-related. ”I put ‘em on the list because they told me to,” Rex said.
Update, 5:50 p.m.: The Browns list six players on their injury report, three not participating in team drills (S Mike Adams, DT Shaun Rogers and QB Jake Delhomme) and three limited (former Jets DE Kenyon Coleman, T John St. Clair and QB Seneca Wallace).
Cleveland’s injury summary will appear here as soon as we receive it.
Three Who Rescued W’s
Mark Sanchez and a former Jets starting QB are two of the three players nominated for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week award. Sanchez is in the running obviously for engineering 13 points in a little over five minutes of clock time that brought the Jets from a 20-10 deficit to a 23-20 overtime victory at Detroit — his second fourth-quarter comeback in three games.
Then there’s Brett Favre, who orchestrated the 46th comeback of his legendary career, leading the Vikings from 14 points down with 4:39 to play to a 27-24 OT triumph. And the third candidate for the weekly NFL award is Jacoby Ford, who had a 94-yard kickoff-return TD plus two late big-play catches that lifted the Raiders over the Chiefs, again in overtime.
Tags: Brett Favre, Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini, Mark Sanchez, Marquise Cole, Matt Slauson, Never Say Never Moment, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan
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