Rex Ryan is very familiar with the Patriots. He's been the Jets' coach since 2009, and before that, he was a defensive assistant with the Ravens. On Sunday, the Jets and Patriots, two teams going in different directions, meet for the last time this season.
And, possibly, the last time with Ryan as the coach; he will almost certainly be fired in a few weeks, which frankly, is probably the best thing that could happen to him. (Ryan's a great coach in an untenable situation. A fresh start is in order.)
For now, though, he's focused on New England, even if the three-win Jets have long been out of the playoff conversation.
"We all know what's getting ready to happen in this game," Ryan said of a match-up in which there are few surprises, via ESPN.com. "We know that both teams give their maximum effort against each other. I don't think each team particularly likes each other. It's on. Regardless of what the record is. We could be playing for first place or whatever, it's the same effort always. It's usually a close game and it's usually a physical game."
Still despite the familiarity -- and even dislike -- Ryan respects what the Patriots have accomplished.
"They always have it -- six years in a row that they've won the division. You're a little envious, I guess. It's what it is -- they're the ones you chase. We respect them a great deal -- they're led by a Hall of Fame quarterback and a Hall of Fame coach. So they're hard to beat and we recognize that, but that doesn't mean that we'll take our rightful place underneath them. That's not going to happen. We're here to beat them. That's our mentality every time we play them. They're going to get our best shot and we're going to get theirs; we understand that about each other."
Ryan might be on the way out in New York but he maintains that things are going as well as they can, all things considered.
"Anything that's swirling around inside our team, I'm proud of this team," he said. "We've got nothing (in terms of issues). Some guys' reports are probably as far off as any I've ever seen. This team is tight. Our record is the only thing that stinks. We have a great group of guys that care, that prepare, practice hard. It's obviously unfortunate that our record is what it is. But it has nothing to do with the type of character in this room."