On Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, the Jets and New England Patriots face off for their 12th --and quite likely final -- regular-season meeting of the Rex Ryan era. Gang Green is 3-11 and hasn't enjoyed a winning record since going 11-5 in 2010, but no matter how his team has fared against the rest of the league, throughout his Big Apple tenure, Ryan has earned a reputation as the man who knows how to contain Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the explosive Patriots offense.
We decided to explore if that reputation was built merely on perception or on hard results. Here is what we found:
Although head-to-head Ryan is a mere 3-8 against The Hoodie (4-8 if you count New York's 28-21 divisional playoff victory at Foxborough following the 2010 season), no other head coach over the past six seasons has defeated Belichick as often (though no one has lost more often, either).
In the 94 regular-season games the Patriots have played since the start of 2009, Brady & Co. failed to score at least 14 points just three times. Two of those -- Week 2 of 2009 in East Rutherford and Week 2 last season at Gillette Stadium -- came against Ryan's Jets.
Ryan's defense has consistently limited, if not altogether frustrated, New England's offense. The Patriots have averaged 28.3 points per game against Ryan's Jets, 24.3 of which were supplied by the offense. Against the 30 teams not coached by Ryan over the same time frame, the average balloons to 31.2 total points per game, with 29.0 of those coming from the offense. The difference of 5.7 offensive points produced per contest would be enough points to drop the top-ranked scoring team this season all the way to 10th.
New England's troubles against Ryan's defense aren't just confined to the scoreboard.
Brady's QBR against Ryan’s Jets is 61.8. Against the rest of the league it's 73.4. Just one of Brady's top 20 QBR games over the past six seasons has come against New York, yet three of his worst nine QBR games came when facing New York. Brady’s completion percentage is a not-so-terrific 59.4 percent when facing the likes of Kendrick Ellis, Muhammad Wilkerson and even back to the days of Darrelle Revis, compared to a much more robust 64.7 percent against all other teams. No. 12 particularly struggles against Ryan's blitz packages, posting a QBR of nearly 20 points lower against Gang Green’s pass pressure (58.1) than when the rest of the league comes at him full bore (77.4).
The limitations placed on the Patriots are crystal clear in terms of yardage. New England has averaged 358.7 yards per game against Ryan’s defense. Against all others they gain an NFL-best 402.8 yards per game. Much of that discrepancy is in rushing the football, an area in which the Pats average nearly 30 fewer yards (95.4) versus the Jets than against all others (125.1). The drop in passing yards (277.7 to 263.4) is not insignificant, either.
Perhaps the most telling difference of all is in "offensive win probability added," an advanced metric that uses score, time, down, distance, and field position to estimate how likely each team will go on to win the game. On average, New England's offense has been nearly twice as likely to contribute to a win (0.27) against teams other than the Jets as it has been against Ryan's squad (0.14).
So no matter which team you're pulling for in a game of interest mainly for seeding (playoffs for the Pats, draft for the Jets) and fantasy football playoffs, you can appreciate the job Ryan has consistently done against one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. Even if his days are numbered in New York, don’t be surprised to see him orchestrating a game plan to stop Belichick and Brady again down the road.