Ryan’s at­ti­tude still a hall­mark of the Ravens

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - Mike Pre­ston

Marvin Lewis de­signed the blue­print of the Ravens’ pre­sent-day de­fense and line­backer Ray Lewis gave the team its work ethic, but it was Rex Ryan who had the dis­tinct at­ti­tude preva­lent to this day.

Ryan, 53, in his sec­ond sea­son as the Buf­falo Bills coach, will be in town Sun­day for the 2016 sea­son opener against the Ravens at M&T Bank Sta­dium. It’s a homecoming for Ryan, a for­mer Ravens as­sis­tant and then de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor from 1999 through 2008.

“What he taught per­son­ally is just how to

play Ravens foot­ball,” said Pro Bowl out­side line­backer Ter­rell Suggs, one of only a hand­ful of play­ers left from the Ryan years. “Some peo­ple will al­ways be Ravens; Rex is one of them.

“We know with Rex what his phi­los­o­phy is and what he brings to the ta­ble — ba­si­cally how he likes to play foot­ball. It’s good to ac­tu­ally play against him.”

It’s been eight years since Ryan roamed the Ravens side­line, but he hasn’t changed much. He takes the game se­ri­ously, but never to the point where he can’t have fun, es­pe­cially laugh­ing at him­self.

The bravado is still there, which made him a per­fect fit as the New York Jets coach from 2009 through 2014 (the Ravens won all three meet­ings with Ryan’s Jets dur­ing that pe­riod). He has al­ways been a forgiving type, which is why his ros­ters of­ten have sev­eral play­ers who have been on a po­lice blot­ter.

His fa­ther, Buddy Ryan, de­vel­oped the Chicago Bears’ famed “46” pres­sure de­fense. The Ryans are also known for their tough, in-your-face style.

Rex Ryan brought that per­sona and at­ti­tude to the Ravens. In 2000, Lewis was the best player in the NFL. But the play­ers who ran that team were a bunch of nasty guys named Sam Adams, Tony Si­ra­gusa, Michael McCrary and Rob Bur­nett.

Si­ra­gusa was ar­ro­gant and ob­nox­ious. Adams’ mood changed like the weather. McCrary was an over­grown kid who had as much en­ergy play­ing on Sun­day af­ter­noons as he­didinthep­ark­inglots with­robotic toys. Bur­nett was the mean, quiet type who’d threaten any player who got out of line.

They were coached by none other than Ryan, known as “Sexy Rexy” to some staff “I’m just go­ing to have my team pre­pared and play our tails off,” said Bills coach Rex Ryan, who in­stilled his in-your-face at­ti­tude in the Ravens as an as­sis­tant coach and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor. mem­bers at The Cas­tle. His per­son­al­ity was as big as some of the play­ers’.

“Alot of it is still around here,” Suggs said. “It’s the men­tal­ity he taught. It’s the men­tal­ity we have. It kind of went hand in hand when he was here. That’s why he was so suc­cess­ful, we were so suc­cess­ful. And that’s why we con­tinue to be suc­cess­ful around here.”

Even some of the cur­rent Ravens who never played for Ryan un­der­stand his stature with the team.

“I heard about him that he is ag­gres­sive, de­fen­sive-minded, an old-school coach and a play­ers’ coach,” said cor­ner­back Jimmy Smith, who was drafted by the Ravens in 2011. “I know he coached here for some time and de­vel­oped the Ravens men­tal­ity. And I know I have that type of men­tal­ity.”

So do the Bills. They have the same phi­los­o­phy of want­ing to stop the run first and then bring pres­sure in pass­ing sit­u­a­tions. They have a strong front three led by tackle Kyle Wil­liams, and two good cor­ner­backs in Stephon Gil­more and Ron­ald Darby.

The Ravens will be young on the left side of the of­fen­sive line with rookie tackle Ron­ald Stan­ley and ei­ther rookie Alex Lewis or third-year player John Urschel at left guard.

Ryan is go­ing to be di­al­ing up some blitzes.

“I think Rex al­ways likes to come af­ter peo­ple,” Ravens quar­ter­back Joe Flacco said. “That’s in his na­ture. First game of the sea­son, I think he’ll prob­a­bly do that a lit­tle bit just to see if we’re pre­pared for pick­ing up some of the blitzes and things like that.”

You can bet on it, es­pe­cially now that his twin brother, Rob, is an as­sis­tant coach. Af­ter Rob had unim­pres­sive stops in Oak­land, Cleve­land, Dal­las and New Or­leans, Rex hired him in June. He has also hired for­mer Ravens safety Ed Reed as one of his de­fen­sive backs coaches.

The two ad­di­tions might be a sign of des­per­a­tion. There have been re­ports that Ryan’s job is on the line and that he has to im­prove on last year’s 8-8 record and make the play­offs this sea­son af­ter the Bills fin­ished 9-7 un­der Doug Mar­rone in 2014.

Ryan has some things work­ing in his fa­vor, es­pe­cially in the AFC East, where New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady will be sus­pended for the first four games and the Mi­ami Dol­phins have a new head coach. Over­all, Ryan has a 54-58 record with just two winning sea­sons.

He is signed through the 2019 sea­son and doesn’t seem con­cerned about his fu­ture.

“I don’t get into that,” Ryan said. “I’m just go­ing to have my team pre­pared and play our tails off. That’s what I do. It’s never about me.”

RICK OSENTOSKI/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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