The New England Patriots Have Reason To Fear Rex Ryan's Defense

Mike Dussault@PatsPropagandaSenior Analyst IJune 9, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - MAY 02:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets walks on the field during minicamp on May 2, 2009 at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It's still only June, not even five months since Rex Ryan was hired as the newest head coach of the New York Jets, and he's already been stirring up drama in the AFC East.

First came Bart Scott, the Inside Linebacker Ryan brought with him from Baltimore, proclaiming the Jets to have a new "swagger-licious" attitude. Practices were now fun and vocal, a swift departure from how things were run under Eric Mangini. After just a few OTA practices, the Jets already had a new confidence under Ryan.

Then came Ryan stating he wasn't there to kiss Bill Belichick's rings, a statement that the even-keeled Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss found to be in a disrespectful tone.

Miami's Channing Crowder took on Ryan's comments that the Jets would contend for a Super Bowl, saying Ryan was "going absolutely nuts".

Ryan didn't hesitate to shoot back at Crowder, without even being prompted to by reporters, welcoming the back and forth and saying he wasn't afraid to "ruffle some feathers".

All in all, this offseason has been a far cry from business as usual in the AFC East, and we all have Rex Ryan to thank. Usually the pinnacle of controversy was the Patriots signing a former Jet or vice versa.

Even as a Patriots fan, I'm enjoying the chatter. It's a breath of fresh air and a nice switch from the current boring norm of head coaches not saying anything that could be used as "bulletin board" material. Plus it's building the anticipation for the Jets-Patriots Week Two clash even more than before.

For those that thought Eric Mangini's departure would weaken the Pats-Jets rivalry, it seems to have only gotten stronger.

Whether or not Rex's team can back up all the talk remains to be seen, but should the rest of the AFC East, and specifically the Patriots, really be concerned about the new swagger-licious Jets?

The only way to get a sense of what Ryan might try to do to stop Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and company, is to look back when the mighty 2007 Patriots met Rex's Baltimore defense in Week 13 of that season.

The results might make Patriots fans uneasy.

While the Patriots won the game 27-24, on a last minute touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney, this was the game New England should've lost.

Randy Moss and Wes Welker were held to a mere seven catches for 52 yards and one touchdown combined. That was the lowest receiving yardage total for both in the record-setting 2007 year.

Tom Brady was sacked three times, which tied for a season high, and completed just 47 percent of his passes, a season low. He was also intercepted once.

Of course, Ryan no longer has the same players he had in Baltimore. While David Harris is not Ray Lewis, Calvin Pace isn't quite Terrell Suggs, and Kerry Rhodes is not (yet) Ed Reed, the Jets defense does have talent. Bart Scott is still in fact Bart Scott so that's the only starting player analogy that works, assuming Jim Leonhard isn't starting.

However there's no doubt that Rex will run a similar pressure defense in New York, and that's not something you want to see coming in Week Two if you're Tom Brady's reconstructed knee.

Will we see Kris Jenkins lining up at Linebacker like Haloti Ngata did for the Ravens? Will Vernon Gholston blossom into a pass-rushing terror? It's impossible to tell at this point, but it's clear there will be lots of pre-snap movement and a variety of looks and rushers.

The weakness of the Baltimore defense, and why they ultimately lost to the Patriots in 2007, was because they imploded.

New Jet Bart Scott was one of the main offenders in that implosion, taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the Pats scored the go-ahead touchdown. Scott picked up the referee's penalty flag and fired it into the stands. 

Rex himself called a timeout just before the still-trailing Patriots tried a fourth-down QB sneak that was snuffed out by Ray Lewis, giving the Pats a second shot at a comeback. Had Ryan not done that the Ravens would've put an end to New England's undefeated regular season then and there.

Baltimore ended the game with 13 penalties for 100 yards.

Was the implosion that day a result of the "swagger-licious," and seemingly undisciplined, attitude Ryan seems to impart upon his defense? Perhaps.

But what is undeniable is that Ryan's defense shut down the holy trinity of Brady, Moss, and Welker in a season when if you stopped only one of them it was a successful outing.

Whether or not Ryan will be able to shut them down again with the Jets personnel is a question that will have to wait until September 20 to be answered.

But Patriots fans should not be overconfident when they see a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach in the Meadowlands on Week Two, instead they should leave that to the Jets' defense and see if they put their money where Rex Ryan's mouth has been.


Mike Dussault is a Patriots Community Leader and has tickets to the Patriots opener vs. the Bills on 9/14. He can be reached at PatriotsPropaganda@gmail.com.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.