(Sports Network) – “Brother…can you spare a third-down conversion?”
In a game ripe with matchups between ex-employees, it may be the clash of New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan that generates the most on-field fun when their teams meet this Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The twin brothers will face off for the first time since Rex took over the Jets in his own inimitable style in 2009, mixing press-room hyperbole with playtime chaos en route to a berth in the AFC Championship Game. Meanwhile, the lesser-known Rob is climbing the hot list of prospective coaches and could face his brother in a head coach vs. head coach showdown by this time next year.
The Jets’ boss said he is ready to unleash some trash talk.
“I’m sure we’ll talk about each other’s children, wives, whatever,” Rex Ryan said. “It’s going to get ugly.”
The players, meanwhile, will feel the wrath of the rivalry on the field.
“If he’s half of what Rex is, it’s going to be a major pain for 60 minutes,” Jets center Nick Mangold said of Cleveland’s Ryan.
Oh, and the man Rex replaced in New York — Eric Mangini — has landed as the “other” Ryan’s boss with the Browns. The remaining Jets from the Mangini era have acknowledged the impending matchup during game week run-up, but hardly showered their former boss with praise for his work during a 23-25 tenure from 2006-08 that included one playoff appearance.
“There’s no hatred with us as the New York Jets organization (from) when Mangini was here,” said cornerback Darrelle Revis, a 2007 draft pick who played two years under him in New York. “Smart guy. He did all he could. Now he’s in a different place. I’m sure he’s looking forward to this game.”
The Jets head to the weekend in first place in the AFC East Division, leading the also 6-2 New England Patriots by virtue of an early-season head-to-head win. New York is coming off a 23-20 come-from-behind overtime victory at Detroit this past Sunday.
Cleveland, meanwhile, is 3-5 and third in the AFC North, three games in back of the front-running tandem of Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
“It’s going to be special,” Mangini said in reference to meeting the Jets seven days after facing another former team in the Patriots, for whom he’d once been an assistant under Bill Belichick. “And last week was special, too.”
Cleveland defeated New England by a 34-14 count last week, the team’s second consecutive impressive win. Prior to a Week 8 bye, the Browns handed defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans a 30-17 loss in the Superdome on Oct. 24.
Mangini said he’s more at ease in all facets of the job in Ohio, particularly facing a media horde less venomous than the one in the Big Apple.
“It’s less scripted for me (in Cleveland),” he said. “I know what I want to say. I know the points I want to get across. Not reading it as much as just feeling it and getting the same point across, but from the heart. I think the best thing that I’ve learned is to take the best things from the people that I’ve been with who are outstanding, but do it in my way. It’s more effective, more authentic.”