FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Rex Ryan tweaked Tom Brady while he praised Peyton Manning.
The New York Jets coach said Thursday that "nobody" studies like Manning, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback whom Ryan's team faces in a first-round playoff matchup Saturday night. Nope, not even the New England Patriots quarterback.
"I know Brady thinks he does," Ryan said. "I think there's a little more help from (Bill) Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning."
Talk about bulletin-board material.
If the Jets (11-5) beat the Colts (10-6) in Indianapolis, they would next play Brady, Belichick and the Patriots (14-2) next Sunday at Foxborough, Mass. Ryan's zinger would certainly add to an already tense rivalry.
First thing's first, and that's trying to get past Manning and the Colts. Ryan, who never shies from saying what's on his mind, was asked what it's like being a great defensive coach going against such a talented quarterback.
"It's not just a coach on the field," he said. "You give the coaching community too much credit. This guy is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. He is one of the smartest guys. It's not just a coach dialing up plays. He dials his own plays up."
Ryan knows firsthand how tough Manning can be. Since 2005, when Ryan became Baltimore's defensive coordinator, the Colts are 5-1 — including last year's AFC championship game — and Manning has 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions against him.
"The guy is tremendous," Ryan said. "There is no one else like this guy in the league."
Ryan said Manning is so good, he can go into each play with three options and end up coming up with a fourth. Manning's ability to take a defense and exploit its weaknesses defies even anything coach Jim Caldwell, senior offensive assistant Tom Moore or former coach Tony Dungy have taught him over the years.
"Tom Moore has done a great job with him forever, Caldwell and Tony Dungy and things like that," Ryan said, "but it's Peyton Manning. That's who it is."