Sunday could have been the last time Rex Ryan will face the Patriots as head coach of the Jets. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. — If indeed Sunday was Rex Ryan’s last game as head coach of the New York Jets, maybe the happiest guy to see him out of the AFC East is Tom Brady, as Ryan led teams have done historically well against the Patriots’ quarterback.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, going into Sunday, Brady’s completion percentage in games against Jets’ defenses led by Ryan was 59 percent, compared to 65 percent against the rest of the league. That trend continued Sunday as although Brady completed 66 percent of his passes (23-for-35), he wasn’t his usual self and the Jets put tons of pressure on him all game long, forcing him into just 182 yards passing, his lowest since Week 4.
“I don’t know if it is really possible to control Tom Brady. If not, we’re the team that always gives him the biggest challenge, whether he admits it or not,” Ryan said after the game.
“I just think we play defense a lot different than most teams in the league,” Ryan added. “We don’t just line up and play standard defense. I think that’s what I am talking about. Everybody plays hard and we’re no exception. Through the years, that probably holds true.”
Brady was asked what makes facing the Jets defense so difficult?
“I think this is a team that does a lot of things well,” said Brady. “They have good scheme, good players, a good rush, good in the middle of the defense, good middle linebacker, good safeties. The corners played well today. I just think we got their best and I think we kind of sputtered there and got out of rhythm.”
Over the years, Ryan has has mixed things up against Brady and the Patriots, noting you cannot win doing the same thing every game.
“You always try new things,” he said. “You don’t just give him the same picture down after down. That guy will kill you if you do. We were able to turn our pass rush loose a little more and I think that helped us. We thought our defensive line was a huge advantage for us going into the game.”
With the loss, the Jets fell to 3-12 on the year and the writing seems on the wall for Ryan as head coach of the Jets after failing to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Ryan said he wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of Sunday being his last game coaching at MetLife.
“I want every one of them, but it’s frustrating” he said. “I felt good going in. I thought we could matchup on the outside which really allows us to really play defense the way we want to. Unfortunately, we couldn’t close the deal.”
The Jets held a 10-7 halftime lead, and also led 13-7 in the third quarter. A key Geno Smith interception by Jamie Collins was a huge factor in the game, as it came after the Patriots scored to make it a 13-10 game, and then Jonas Gray scored on the ensuing possession to turn a 13-7 deficit into a 17-13 lead for New England in less than five minutes of game time.
“This was another game that I thought we had a heck of a chance to win against New England,” Ryan said. “That’s been the story probably the last four out of five times we played them. To their credit, they find ways to win. They made big plays at the end of the game to win. That’s why they are where they are right now and what separates them from a lot of teams. It’s unfortunate. I really thought it was going to be our day. It never turned out that way.”
As head coach of the Jets — if he is indeed fired — Ryan would finish with a 4-8 record in the regular season against the Patriots.
Ryan was asked if things might be different for him in New York if he was able to beat the Patriots more often.
“No. They usually run away with our division,” Ryan said. “The one year we were both 9-2, we got smoked like a sausage in that Monday night game. That was probably the one year we could have won the division.”