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Browns’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan reflects on time with Belichick, Pats

11.05.10 at 7:44 pm ET
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He is the other Ryan, less bombastic than his twin brother but no less respected in NFL circles.

Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the twin brother of Jets coach Rex Ryan, will get the chance to lead the Browns’€™ defense against the Patriots on Sunday. Like many Cleveland coaches, Ryan’€™s ties to New England run deep ‘€” he was the Patriots linebackers coach from 2000 to 2003 before leaving New England to become defensive coordinator in Oakland from 2004 through 2008.

Prior to the start of last season, Ryan joined Eric Mangini‘€™s staff in Cleveland, part of a group of former Patriots assistants ‘€” including Mangini, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and special-teams coach Brad Seely ‘€” who have migrated to Cleveland to try and implement the New England system on the shores of Lake Erie.

In his weekly press conference with Cleveland-area reporters on Friday, Ryan recalled his early days with the Patriots where the team wasn’€™t yet where it wanted to be. In particular, the 2000 season wasn’€™t what Ryan was expecting.

‘€œShoot, we had a rough start when we were 5-11 out there. I was questioning it like, ‘€˜Man, I thought this was going to be a little different,’€™’€œ Ryan recalled Friday. ‘€œThings were a little bleak there and everybody was calling for [head coach Bill] Belichick‘€™s head and everything else like that.’€

The nadir of that season was a 19-11 loss in Cleveland, a contest where the Browns’€™ fans jeered Belichick in his first time back in Cleveland as an opposing head coach. It dropped the Patriots to 2-8.

‘€œI just remember that it was just an awful game. Cleveland got the better of us in about everything they did. They played better on defense, offense, special teams and according to Belichick, which I’€™m sure he was right, coaching,’€ Ryan said. ‘€I can remember getting off of that plane and having a meeting and we just got ripped from one side down to the next.

‘€œThat was really a miserable game, probably the lowest of the low when you take in the coaching and everything and the personal beat downs we took. We all grew from it and everybody finally got to understand exactly what Coach Belichick was looking for.’€

That 2000 team went 3-3 down the stretch, which paved the way for the memorable 2001 season, which was kickstarted with the arrival of Tom Brady as a starter in Week 2.

‘€œThen out of nowhere, this Tom Brady came on and the rest is history. We had some great times with the players there, they had some great players, and obviously they’€™ve had some premier coaches,’€ Ryan said. ‘€œIt’€™s amazing how it works when everybody buys in and you all start pulling the same way, you can really accomplish a lot of things.’€

Ryan said he ‘€œnever hung out and drank beers with [Belichick] or anything’€ when he was with the Patriots, describing their relationship as more of a ‘€œteacher-student relationship.’€

‘€œI definitely learned a lot of football from Bill Belichick, and Eric (Mangini), for that matter. We were all together there and it was a great experience for me,’€ Ryan said. ‘€œ[Belichick] taught me so many things about situations, and not that he just sat down and talked to me because he was running a football team. I’€™m pretty smart that way and a pretty good observer, I’€™ve learned a lot from good people and I learned a ton from him. I always admired him and the work he’€™s done in the past and since.

‘€œCan I get in the mind of Bill Belichick? I don’€™t think anybody can. He’€™s got a proven track record, he’€™s a tremendous coach, he gets his players to play every week, he’€™s never had those problems that a lot of teams do have and I think he has great discipline with his team, just like we do here in Cleveland with Eric. It makes for a good working environment and it makes for a real successful organization.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brad Seely, Brian Daboll, Eric Mangini
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