<
>

Rex Ryan on Julian Edelman: 'I like the new haircut'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan has rallied an entire region in Western New York, and in the process has filled up reporters' notebooks. The latest example came during his Wednesday conference with Patriots reporters.

Some of the highlights:

Edelman's haircut draws attention. When asked about the impact that receiver Julian Edelman has on the Patriots, Ryan said he didn't want to fall into the trap of speaking too much about him and then being accused of tampering. This traces back to past remarks Ryan has made about Patriots players, so he left it at this with Edelman: "I like the new haircut he's got."

Better to cover Gronkowski with one than none. In what appeared to be a dig at the Steelers from the NFL opener, Ryan was asked about the challenge of covering tight end Rob Gronkowski with one defender. "Obviously you don’t just put one guy on this guy. That’s been proven. I will say this, it’s better to put one guy on him than nobody on him. We’ll try to have somebody on him, at least.”

Respect for Belichick. Ryan talked about how his brother, Rob, was on Bill Belichick's staff in the early 2000s and won two Super Bowls. With that in mind, Ryan has never discredited the Patriots' success. He also had praise for Belichick. "I recognize the best coach in the game is the one I'm up against," he said. "But I don't concede anything. I'm going to give him my best shot."

Not backing down on Lewis remarks. Ryan caught the attention of some in New England when he said he didn't even know the name of Patriots running back Dion Lewis after Lewis' impressive performance in the season opener. He wasn't backing down Wednesday. "He's no Jim Nance," he said, referencing the Patriots' running back from 1965-1971. Ryan then explained what he meant when he said he didn't know Lewis' name, relaying that LeGarrette Blount is the team's top rusher. Of Lewis, he said, "He can try to make me learn his name, I guess. Go ahead, I'm a little nervous about it."

No dipping toes into the water. Ryan explained his let-it-rip approach. "If you want to beat the Patriots, you don't do it by just tiptoeing around," he said. "You better believe it and then go out and try to make it happen. We recognize how this is a tough challenge, but make no mistake, we fear nobody."

His media relations philosophy. As for why Ryan encourages players to speak their minds, he said of his media philosophy: "Mine is a little different than other coaches. We're not performing heart surgery or something like that. This is the NFL. I understand how it's important and everything else. At the same time, I don't think you need to go in and say 'Hey, here is the message for the team only. That's fine if that works for others. Obviously, that's pretty much the way it is with Bill and that's fine. But that fits him. If I tried to do that, we'd all be like, 'that ain't going to work.' That ain't who I am. I want the players to be themselves. I think I do it this way because I'm more comfortable with it."