CHARLOTTE – Oh, brother.
One week after the Panthers struggled to finish drives against New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, they'll welcome New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan to Bank of America Stadium.
"We're going from one brother to another brother," quarterback
And these brothers are very much on speaking terms.
"Without question, I've already talked to him about the things that he picked up," Rex Ryan said Wednesday. "In particular because he just played them this past week."
Rob Ryan's defense held a Panthers offense that had been averaging 26.4 points over an eight-game winning streak to half that total in the Saints' 31-13 victory last Sunday. Next up is Rex Ryan's similarly aggressive Jets defense, a unit that ranks second behind only the Panthers when it comes to stopping the run.
But Carolina head coach Ron Rivera, who has known the Ryan family for his entire adult life, is focused on formulating a successful scheme coming off the Panthers' first loss in two months rather than the possibility of siblings scheming against him.
The Ryans may be fraternal twins, but they don't share a brain.
"I know Rex and Rob, and Rex is going to do what he does. Rex is his own person," Rivera said. "He may have gotten something from his brother, but for the most part he's going to call his own game and attack us how he wants.
"It might be to our benefit if they say, ‘What they (the Saints) did was great, so let's do it.' We're going to learn from what happened. If we don't, shame on us. We've worked in practice to make corrections, so that might be to our benefit."
While Rex Ryan readily concedes that he has a different style than his brother, no coach worth his salt leaves any stone unturned. And Ryan expects a similarly thorough approach from Rivera, who started his NFL career as a linebacker under Buddy Ryan – the Ryan brothers' legendary father – nearly 30 years ago. Buddy Ryan was the Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator at the time, leading what many consider the most dominant defense in NFL history in 1985.
"They drafted Wilbur Marshall and Ron the same year (in 1984), and my dad was more impressed with Ron because he just took to it immediately," Rex Ryan said. "Obviously, he's a tough guy and was a physical player, which my dad always appreciated. But it was more his brains than brawn that really impressed my dad.
"I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Ron. He's a tremendous coach, and I love the way his players play. They play hard as heck for him, and I think that's the sign of a good coach."