New England Patriots: Toughness, Preparation the Real Keys Against the Bills


Among the typical torrent of talk coming from Buffalo Bills big mouth head coach Rex Ryan when discussing the New England Patriots this week, came a somewhat telling explanation as to why he and his teams yap more than anyone else in the NFL combined.

“We’re not performing heart surgery or something like that,” said Rexy. “This is the NFL. I understand it’s important and everything else. I think I do it this way because I’m more comfortable with it.”

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Truer words have rarely been spoken. Rex Ryan is more comfortable with being loud and saying things he believes amount to some semblance of toughness than employing qualities like humility. and modesty. And it works for him. At least, he thinks it does – his career record as a head coach is 47-50.

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The truth is that there is nothing tough about being loud and blustery and encouraging your players to be the same. There is nothing tough about saying that your goal is to “build a bully” and repeat that you aren’t afraid of anyone ad nauseam.

What is tough is going out on to the field, executing well, playing hard and smart and winning. Which is why we have no real idea whether this version of the Bills are actually tough at all.

The Bills destroyed the Colts in Rex’s Western New York debut last week but really, how tough does that make them? The Colts are among the softest teams in the league if not THE softest, and were completely unprepared for what Rex threw at them despite being a chic, preseason pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

We’ll find out how tough the Bills actually are on Sunday when the Patriots invade Ralph Wilson Stadium. Whether you believe in Rex’s loudmouth philosophy or the programmed nature of how Bill Belichick operates or are somewhere in between, the truth is that the Belichick way has proven to work time and again for teams best characterized by their work ethic, their attention to detail and yes, their toughness, particularly from a mental standpoint.

Rex Ryan is a pretty good coach. He’s a tremendous defensive coordinator who could have had far more success as a head coach if he had the slightest idea how to develop a quarterback or balance an even competent offense with his usually ferocious defenses. He’s enjoyed some success against the Patriots, particularly early in his career with the Jets. His teams almost always play the Pats close and he knows how to push Tom Brady, as evidenced by Brady’s lesser numbers against his defenses compared to others.

He’s also the right guy for an organization like the Bills right now. Buffalo hasn’t made the playoffs in 15 years and having a guy so oozing with confidence running the show has to be healthy for #BillsMafia at least in the immediate present (let’s all agree to look away when the Bills ultimately finish 8-8 or worse and miss the postseason yet again).

But his and his players’ toughness can only be measured by how they play and whether they can win on game day. No amount of chest beating and trash talking will change that.

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