Rex Ryan still may not be ready to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings, but the former Buffalo Bills coach has to give his onetime rival credit for the job he’s doing this season.
Ryan spoke out about the job that Belichick is doing with the now first-place New England Patriots, a team that came into the season with lowered expectations but has managed to reach an AFC-best eight wins. The Patriots and Bills are now meeting in a Monday Night Football contest that will determine divisional supremacy, and Belichick is getting some big praise from Ryan.
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Belichick Having Best Year of his Career, Ryan Says
Ryan, who works as an NFL analyst after two seasons coaching the Bills, said Belichick has done a masterful job leading the Patriots into first place in the AFC East. He pointed out the way Belichick has paved the road to success for rookie quarterback Mac Jones by simplifying the offense.
“This, I think, is his best job coaching in his entire career,” Ryan said, via Boston.com. “Part of his [with Mac Jones], he doesn’t ask him to do the things that aren’t his strengths. So he’s got a guy, a rookie quarterback, looking like he’s played in the league for 10 years.”
Ryan added that the Patriots defense is the real reason the team has an 8-4 record.
“But let’s make no mistake why New England is where they’re at,” Ryan said. “[It’s] because they can play defense. Look, they’re number one currently in the NFL. Bill Belichick, five times in his career in the NFL as a head coach, has been number one in the NFL on defense. And by the way, they’ve been number two in the NFL in defense five times also.”
“This team right here is going to go places because of their defense,” Ryan added.
The praise may mean more coming from Ryan, who had some battles with Belichick as coach of the Bills and New York Jets. As Pro Football Talk noted, Ryan famously said in 2009 that he “never came here to kiss Bill Belichick’s, you know, rings.”
Belichick Praises Bills
Ahead of the Monday Night Football matchup between the AFC East rivals, Belichick also had plenty of praise for the Bills and quarterback Josh Allen. On Wednesday, Belichick said Allen’s improvement over the last three seasons has been “tremendous.”
“Where it was three years ago, completion percentage, passer rating, decision making, production, it has just gone [up]. It’s risen at a really remarkable rate. It’s just remarkable how good he has become,” Belichick said, via CBS Sports.
Both Belichick and his rookie quarterback also had some praise for Bills fans, who will be filling Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park for Monday’s game. Jones said even though this will be his first trip to Buffalo, he’s familiar with the reputation of Bills Mafia as a passionate fanbase.
“I know they’re a great fan base. They have a lot of passion. They bring a lot of energy to the games and even before the games. I’ve seen a lot of crazy videos and stuff.” Jones said via WEEI radio.