ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Rex Ryan can coach the Miami Dolphins when he is done riling up the masses in Buffalo. He can complete the cycle of non-New England jobs in the AFC East and earn a living in the division for another dozen tumultuous years, and nothing will change about this cold, hard truth:
He will never talk his way to a title on Bill Belichick's watch.
It's not happening. Ever. Ryan can keep prattling on about his fearless team, blustering about this and that, and it will continue to be an exercise in wasted energy and time.
Somebody else will someday win the AFC East. But it won't be because Ryan predicted it or because he frightened the Patriots by swearing he would "build a bully" that would make Tom Brady quiver in his Hall of Fame cleats.
The Patriots will finally fall because another head coach in the division found and developed an elite quarterback and pieced together the kind of balanced, mature, precision-centric program Belichick has built in New England. In Sunday's 40-32 loss to the Patriots, Ryan reminded everyone watching that, to date, he has yet to prove himself capable of assembling that kind of team.
"This loss is squarely on one man's shoulders; it's on my shoulders," Ryan said. "Yeah, we've got to get better as a team, there's no question. But I have to get better. Belichick outcoached me, no question about it, and that's how it ended up."
Ryan's signature defense surrendered 466 passing yards to Brady, the most any Bills team has surrendered to any quarterback. Buffalo committed 14 penalties for 140 yards, including two personal fouls on one play. The one Belichick accepted helped set up a six-yard touchdown run from Dion Lewis, the very running back Ryan said he couldn't name in the days before the game.
The very running back who shredded Ryan's schemes with six receptions for 98 yards.
"Oh, that's the reason we lost," the Bills coach responded sarcastically when asked if he regretted saying what he'd said about Lewis. "Go ahead, I still don't know his name. Next time run the ball."
At his podium, Ryan looked deflated enough to need one of those football pumps his team store was selling at the Patriots' expense. His team had played recklessly, making Belichick's toughest job of the day figuring out which penalties to decline and which to accept. For good measure, Ryan chipped in his own unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the bench.
"Sometimes, you know, it's an emotional game," he said. "You should play with emotion. But sometimes you let your emotions get the better of you, and it went to our detriment. And it starts with me. I obviously have to control my emotions a little better regardless of how bad things are going."
That's the problem with Ryan: He can't control himself, and his team ultimately follows his lead. Yes, as coach of the 2010 New York Jets, Ryan did beat Belichick in a playoff game in Foxborough after declaring his hatred for his opponent was personal, not business. Yet the wild emotional swings that define your average Rex Ryan season drained the Jets the following week when they didn't show up for the first half of the AFC championship game in Pittsburgh and blew the franchise's shot at its first Super Bowl appearance since man stepped on the moon.
Ryan hasn't appeared in a playoff game since.
He was fired by the Jets last year after managing four consecutive non-winning seasons and going 0-for-6 in his attempts to win the AFC East. Meanwhile, Belichick went 6-for-6 in that time and added to his collection of Super Bowl rings Ryan promised he'd never kiss.
Don't take this the wrong way: In a sport overrun by men wired to bore their audiences to tears with coach-speak, Ryan is a ton of fun to have around. He forever assumes the role of a run-amok boxing promoter trying to jazz up a fight that's already sold out. Ryan is good copy, and he also comes across as a good person, too.
But his program is too undisciplined to survive and thrive in the long term. Asked about the noise he generated before facing the defending champs, Ryan said with another dose of sarcasm: "It's my fault we talk too much. That's why we lost."
The talk sure didn't help. The Bills were high on life after destroying Andrew Luck's Colts, and a couple of their players spoke of having no use for the Patriots. Their fans chanted they wanted Brady. The four-time champ promised to oblige them, and sure enough Brady delivered with those 466 yards and three touchdowns on 59 pass attempts. Belichick so badly wanted to beat Ryan by 100 points that he kept having Brady sling it while holding a late 24-point lead.
Belichick's strategy allowed Buffalo to rally in a mostly garbage-time way, and it didn't matter in the end. The winning quarterback left the building with a 24-3 career record against the Bills, and Belichick left the building with a 10-4 record against Ryan.
"The plan has to be better on defense," Ryan said. "You can't give up 500 yards and beat anybody, and we turned it over three times. ... Our team will get better, but it starts with me getting better."
Will he get better? Can he get better? Belichick was fired in his first head coaching job in Cleveland and started out 5-11 in Year 1 in New England before Brady walked into his life a couple of games into Year 2. Maybe Ryan will find himself on the rebound in Buffalo the way Belichick found himself on the rebound in Foxborough. Or maybe not.
If he wants to develop into a Super Bowl champ, this much is certain: He'll need to alter his style. The big winners in recent years, the Belichicks and Tom Coughlins and Joe Torres and Gregg Popoviches and Phil Jacksons, all had a consistency to their approach in victory and defeat. Think about it: Who's the last head coach/manager with an all-over-the-place personality to win multiple championships in a major team sport?
Hey, there's a reason (beyond Brady) why Belichick has won 12 of the past 14 AFC East titles -- he never wavers. Told Sunday that Ryan conceded defeat in the matchup of dueling headsets, Belichick wouldn't bite. He credited his players and maintained they "probably overcame some not-so-great coaching on my part."
The Bills couldn't overcome some not-so-great coaching on their side, and of course Belichick had seen this movie before. Rex Ryan had talked up his defense with the Jets and had talked up his designs on divisional domination. But as long as Belichick and Brady are upright, Ryan will never win his one-sided war of wayward words.