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Rex Ryan expects new schemes from old pal Mike Pettine

By Tim Graham

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan has a certain somebody in his crosshairs.

"I don't like Pettine," Ryan deadpanned. "That's a given."

The gregarious Ryan actually has an affinity for Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. After working together for 11 years with the Baltimore Ravens and Jets, they will face each other for the first time Sunday at the Meadowlands.

Ryan is used to these kinds of situations. He has matched defensive playbooks with his twin brother, Rob Ryan, several times. Rob Ryan is the New Orleans Saints' defensive coordinator and previously has overseen defenses with the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders.

"It is going to be interesting," Rex Ryan said of opposing Pettine. "I've never done it before. He's kind of a brother, but I've faced my twin brother many times. So I think I'm ready for it. Maybe give him a shot before the game."

Pettine entered the NFL as a Ravens coaching and video assistant in 2002. Ryan was the Ravens' defensive line coach.

As Ryan gained more influence with the Ravens, Pettine became his right-hand man. When the Jets hired Ryan as head coach in 2009, he brought Pettine to be his defensive coordinator.

Pettine left the Jets at the end of last season to be Doug Marrone's defensive coordinator. The move was wise for Pettine, who needed to strike out on his own or be cemented Ryan's sidekick and potentially out of work if things fell apart -- as they constantly seem on the verge of doing with Gang Green.

Ryan joked about the need to get extra crafty because Pettine is so familiar with the Jets' personnel and philosophies.

"What we do on defense is sound," Ryan said. "So it's not like you're coming up with a trick play here or there. We have like six of them in. You'll try to do that. There's no question.

"There's a little bit of that gamesmanship involved, but it's just going to come down to execution and things like that."

Pettine has much different personnel in Buffalo than he had in New York. Buffalo's defensive front is more dangerous, but New York had the NFL's best cornerback tandem of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

"I think the big thing is what Mike, I know, has learned -- and I think everybody has -- is you put a system together that will feature your players and focus on what they do best," Ryan said, "and put your players in a situation where they can be successful.

"It's not that you're going to run the fire zone. You're going to look at what your personnel has, what they can do and make adjustments to your defense. It's about your players, not about the scheme necessarily.

"Everybody that's been with me and everything else knows that’s how you start."


Doug Marrone | Mike Pettine | Rex Ryan
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |