Rex Ryan defends Bill Belichick


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- An irritated Rex Ryan said Thursday that every game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots has been won or lost fairly, and he refuted the idea that Alabama coach Nick Saban gave a Jets defensive playbook to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

"I get it, because I gave a defensive playbook to Nick Saban when he came here and spent four or five days with us," Ryan said. "One thing I know for a fact: No. 1, I think it's disrespectful to New England to say, 'Oh, they did this.' I can tell you every single game we've ever had with New England has been decided on the field."

Ryan was responding to an interview with Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine, Ryan's defensive coordinator from 2009 to '12; Pettine said the Patriots might have a playbook through Saban.

"I don't understand what he's trying to gain by it, but that's up to Mike," Ryan said.

Ryan may have started his tenure with the Jets by saying he wasn't going to kiss Belichick's rings, but on Wednesday, after the final practice of the team's mandatory minicamp, he staunchly defended his longtime foe.

"To discredit somebody like Belichick, who is a real coach, studies his butt off, is ridiculous," Ryan said.

Pettine toldĀ Pro Football Talk the majority of playbooks are "very broad," and he meant no disrespect to Belichick or Ryan.

"It's a credit that [the Patriots] have been able to get that information," Pettine said. "I didn't mean to imply it was gathered illegally. ... To me, it's a sign of a smart team. We're not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you'll study it. ...

"We're all in the business of gathering information. If I can get someone's blueprint for how they build their offense or defense, of course I'm going to look at it."

Saban, who is on vacation, denied the report through Jeff Purinton, one of Alabama's associate athletic directors. Saban said that he didn't send Belichick a playbook and wouldn't in any situation. He added that the playbook Ryan gave him is still in his office at Alabama, and that Ryan and Belichick are both friends of his and that he would never consider doing something like that to either coach.

The issue arose earlier when published the interview with Pettine.

At Wes Welker's wedding in June 2012, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady bragged to Mike Smith, another former Jets assistant, that the Patriots may have a copy of New York's playbook, according to Pettine. Smith and Welker were college roommates at Texas Tech, where Smith currently serves as co-defensive coordinator.

"It didn't shock me because Rex would give them out like candy anyway," Pettine told the website. "He gave one out to Saban, and I was like, 'Don't you know Saban and Bill are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it's going to end up in New England.'"

Ryan has always spoken highly of Saban, and has spoken on at least one occasion at a coaches' clinic at Alabama. But Saban and Belichick are extremely tight; Saban was Belichick's defensive coordinator with the Browns from 1991 to '94.

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