As coverage has ramped up this week for this Sunday's game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills, more and more time is being dedicated to the fact that the Jets have performed very well when playing against rookie quarterbacks under Rex Ryan.
ESPN.com's Rich Cimini did the most with it, pointing out that the Jets are 5-2 in games against rookie quarterbacks since Ryan took over as head coach in 2009. Their opponents have averaged 16.6 points per game in those contests, as well as a paltry 263.1 yards of offense per game.
It's a relevant point to make, of course. Ryan's Jets defense is still excellent, and though he's started his rookie season about as well as anyone could have reasonably hoped, EJ Manuel will see much more pressure this week than he has in his first two pro games combined.
What's interesting is that nobody is pointing out that the Bills have the same - or close to the same - advantage. Mike Pettine, as you're well aware, was Ryan's defensive coordinator from 2009-2012 in New York. Ryan's defense is Pettine's defense, and vice versa. Even Ryan acknowledged that earlier this week when speaking with Buffalo-area reporters.
"It looks like somebody's borrowed our playbook," Ryan quipped Wednesday.
If you were to ask the relevant question "How has Mike Pettine fared against rookie quarterbacks in his time as defensive coordinator?", you'd wind up with the same numbers that have been presented as Ryan's this week. It's perhaps less relevant, because Pettine is with a new team and has (mostly) new players, but that doesn't mean it's not an advantage for Buffalo. They're about to take on Geno Smith, who has taken nine sacks and turned the ball over five times in his first two pro games.
In fact, it may not even be worthwhile to consider the Ryan/Pettine defense versus rookie quarterbacks angle an advantage for either side at all, given the divergence in play between the two rookies at this point. It's not tough to imagine that both Ryan and Pettine are licking their chops this week at the thought of scheming up a defense to defend against a green quarterback - even if those quarterbacks have been practicing against that defense for months.