The wrinkle here is that New England's last sub-30 effort was produced in a peculiar loss to Cleveland in 2010, when Rob Ryan -- now Dallas' defensive coordinator -- ran the Browns' defense. Sidenote: The Patriots didn't lose again after that until dropping a divisional playoff game to the New York Jets 28-21, making Rex Ryan the only other coach to hold back the Pats' offense (but not considered part of the streak).
Rob Ryan was on Bill Belichick's defensive staff in New England from 2000 to 2003, so there's some familiarity. But if Belichick's fearful of what's ahead, his vanilla, by-the-numbers assessment of Rob Ryan didn't reveal much.
"Rob Ryan's scheme is a good combination of pressure, man-to-man, zone with all the different fronts in there," Belichick told SiriusXM radio on Tuesday, via The Dallas Morning News. "They use a lot of defensive backs. So they give you a lot of scheme problems."
We imagine more animated talk between the Ryan twins this week. Rex peppering Rob with texts, e-mails, ship-to-shore missives, Facebook pokes (unless they're still on MySpace). These two know how to gab, but after the Patriots whipped Rex Ryan's Jets on Sunday, the heat is on Rob to defend the brothers' honor against the evil forces of Belichick.