Don’t expect the New England Patriots to start mouthing off at Rex Ryan.

Sure, the Buffalo coach is loud, boisterous, brash and at times annoying. But the man also knows how to put together an NFL defense that could give Tom Brady and the Patriots fits on Sunday in Buffalo. The Bills are coming off a season-opening 27-14 dismantling of the highly regarded Indianapolis Colts, and fired up for a matchup with the defending Super Bowl champion.

“I think what you saw last week against the Colts was kind of vintage Rex Ryan, and along with those great players that he’s got, I think they just take such an offensive mentality to their defense,” said Brady, who helped New England beat Pittsburgh 28-21 in its season opener. “They put a lot of pressure on opposing offenses, and wherever they feel like they’ve got you stressed, I think they smell blood in the water and they keep going after it.”

This week it seems all the NFL world is talking about Ryan’s Bills getting ready to play the defending Super Bowl champions. Maybe it’s the burgeoning Bills Mafia, a trending hashtag and fresh focus for Bills fans long suffering in the shadow of the Patriots. Maybe it’s just the bravado of a coach who took more lumps than he dished out as coach of the New York Jets and has a new start in Buffalo. Or maybe it’s simple human need – he wants what the other guy’s got.

“Am I envious of the fact that they’ve won four Super Bowls and I’m sitting back there and I’ve won one (as a defensive coordinator with the Ravens in 2000)?” Ryan said. “Of course, but never to the point where, you know . . .”

Ryan paused before continuing.

“I love competition, and I recognize the best coach in this game is the guy that I’m up against. I don’t concede anything, though. I’m going to give him my best shot. That’s what you want as a competitor. You want that.”

Respect but not intimidation.

“But I don’t fear them, I’ll tell you that much. We don’t fear anybody. In fact we’re looking forward to it. I get it. They’ve got the trophies, the records. … But we have the same record in that stadium on Sunday. It’s a brand-new team. We’ll see what happens.”


Ryan wasted little time after that win over the Colts to start looking ahead to the Week 2 showdown with the Patriots.

“If you want to beat the Patriots, you don’t do it by tip-toeing around,” Ryan said. “You don’t just sit back and (think), ‘Oh, man, I hope this breaks.’

“You understand there is always risk involved, especially against a quarterback of that stature. But at the same time you don’t want to make it a 7-on-7, where he just sits back there all day and throws it wherever he wants.”

Ryan and the Bills did shut down Andrew Luck in Week 1 (26 of 49 for 243 yards with two TDs and two interceptions). He consistently has put together not only successful defenses but lethal ones.

They not only capitalize on your mistakes, they force you into them as the chaos rises. A key stat is that the Buffalo secondary had eight deflections against Luck. That doesn’t mean the secondary isn’t beatable, but it’s a reminder that a push from your defensive line will result in better play in the secondary because you don’t have to defend for long.

Surely Bill Belichick, coach of the Patriots, will anticipate this, but can the offense hold up physically and keep its head when Ryan has it spinning from his pressure packages?

“The key for us is just to identify it,” Belichick said. “They give you a lot of different looks and they bring a lot of different people. It’s not just a linebacker or a particular safety or whatever it is. They have different packages. Sometimes that changes by formation, so it depends on what you’re in what you’re going to get.

“I think the key is just that we have to have a good week of preparation, make sure we understand what we’re doing on each play and follow our rules. Our rules will take care of whatever any defense does.”


And then there’s Gronk. Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for 94 yards and three TDs against Pittsburgh, including his first score where he lined up near the sideline and the Steelers failed to put a defender on him.

“You obviously don’t just put one guy on this guy, that’s been proven,” Ryan said. “I will say this: It’s better to put one guy on him than nobody on him.”

And while Ryan’s defense isn’t perfect against Gronk (eight catches for 113 yards and two TDs in 2011, 6 for 78 and two TDs in 2012, and 8 for 114 in 2013) last year with the Jets it limited him to five catches for 68 yards in the first meeting, and six for 31 in the second.

Ryan – and countless other coaches – have employed multiple strategies: Use a cornerback when Gronk is split wide; break off a linebacker when he moves upfield; fake blitzes when Gronkowski is lined up in a traditional spot for a tight end; drop a linebacker and try to limit yards after a catch.

Gronkowski explained Ryan’s tactics in his own unique way.

“Spin the wheel, see what’s out there. We’ve got to expect that,” he said. “From zone, to man, blitz zero to drop into coverage. With his defenses, you’ve always got to be prepared, you’ve always have to be ready for any type of situation because he always has his players prepared very well for any type of situation, too.”