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What do Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan think of each other?

09.15.10 at 7:57 pm ET

Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick may approach the game differently, but there's a mutual respect between the head coaches of the Jets and Patriots. (AP)

Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan aren’t BFF’s, but the two do have some things in common, including the fact that they were both raised in a culture of football by fathers who were coaches. While don’t spend a lot of time together in the offseason, they both said Wednesday there’s a mutual respect for what the other has done.

“It’s a great football family — a very successful one,” Belichick said of the Ryan family.

Belichick’s first exposure to the Ryans came in the 1980s — the glory days of the NFC East — when Belichick was the defensive coordinator for the Giants, and he spent his days scheming to beat Rex’s father Buddy, who was head coach of the Eagles from 1986 until 1990. The two went head-to-head in the 1990s when he coached against Buddy when Buddy was with the Cardinals and Belichick was with the Browns.

Now, Belichick is on his second generation: as the Patriots coach, he coached against Rex when he was a defensive coordinator with the Ravens, as well as a pair of games last year in Rex’s inaugural season as head coach of the Jets. In addition, he had Rex’s brother Rob on his staff as New England’s linebackers coach from 2000 until 2003.

Belichick and Ryan clearly have different attitudes on how to run a football team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate what the other has accomplished.

“Everybody has got a different style, so I don’t think there is anything wrong with that,” Belichick said yesterday when asked about Ryan’s occasionally blustery approach. “I have a lot of respect for Rex and what he’s done. He’s always been successful as a coach wherever he’s been. Again I know Rob and his father, Buddy. Of course, Buddy and I go back to when we were head coaches in the league together; I was at Cleveland and he was at Arizona. We practiced down there against the Cardinals and Philadelphia and all that.

“They kind of all have their own style, which is similar. I respect that,” he added. “I haven’t spent that much time with Rex, but they’re twin brothers so there are a lot of similarities between those two guys. We get along fine.”

As for Rex, he received an introductory to Belichick through his brother Rob, who moved on to the Raiders, and is currently defensive coordinator for the Browns.

“He thought the world of Bill [Belichick],” Rex said Wednesday of his brother Rob, who won two Super Bowls as an assistant with the Patriots. “What I understand is, my brother said, ‘You think you’re pretty good when you’re a move or two ahead of somebody,’ but he always said this: Belichick was four or five moves ahead of that.

“I have always said that I think he’s the best coach in the league, but again I’m here to beat him. It’s not about my skills against his skills; we’d lose that. It’s about his team and my team, and I have confidence in my team.”

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