There will probably be a couple of occasions this afternoon when Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Green & White defensive coordinator Mike Pettine engage in verbal warfare over a play call. You imagine that these communications traded over the headsets would make "Hard Knocks" sound G-rated in comparison, but you'll never hear them so use your imagination when the Jets and Packers meet at New Meadowlands Stadium.
"When it comes to a critical situation, there is always that interaction on the headset as far as what we like, what we don't like," said Pettine this week, adding that fellow coaches "laugh at us — they think we're like brothers on the headset, getting after each other. I think people would be willing to pay to hear it. It's a reality show sometimes."
But this ain't anything like Jersey Shore because the two men have nothing but mutual admiration and respect. They've known each other since 2002, when Pettine left North Penn High School to join the Baltimore Ravens' defensive staff. He gradually worked his way up from coaching and video assistant to Ryan's right-hand man. They are not only on the same page but the same column, paragraph and sentence.
"At the end of the game, we forget half of the things we called each other or said to each other. That's the way it goes. It's checks and balances," Pettine said. "But I can interject on something and say, 'Hey, I don't like this' or 'Hey, let's go in this direction,' and he can have choice words for me, why or why not, and then we move on. And at the end of the day, it's all good."
Ryan, who served as the defense's primary signalcaller in 2009 and the first three weeks of '10, said this week that Pettine is responsible for a "ton" of calls now. It was before the Jets' 38-14 trouncing of the Bills back in Week 4 that Ryan decided to make the change in emphasis.
"I don't want this thing to be overblown," Pettine said. "He and I have always really worked the games together, set up the call sheet together, so a lot of the calls are kind of premade based on if they're in this personnel grouping, and this area of the field, this is what the call is going to be. A lot of it is already predetermined, so the matter of whose mouth it comes out of it — we're reading off a call sheet.
"So the ratio of calls I'm making has gone up, but I don't think he's handed the game completely over to me."
This is a natural evolution because Ryan views Pettine as a head coach in the making and "a rising star" in the profession. They also think alike, so it's not like Ryan is going to turn it over to Pettine and the latter is going to run 10 consecutive plays of 4-3, Cover-2.
"I've been with him for so long that he and I think so much alike, that if you really just studied tendency-wise, I don't think it would jump out like I call games less aggressive, more conservative or whatever it may be than he would," said Pettine.
Pettine believes the more confusion you can create, the better. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? If you define blitz by sending a rusher who is not lined up on the line of scrimmage or sending more than four rushers on any given pass play, then Ryan and Pettine are blitzing fools. Don't get caught up with the number of guys coming at the Packers' Aaron Rodgers but instead focus on the combinations of linemen, linebackers and defensive backs.
Rodgers, a fine athlete with great feet and a wonderful arm, will have the unenviable task of choosing a path through a Halloween maze filled with traps and ghosts.
"When you're playing a defense like this that brings pressure from all over the place," Rodgers said, "I think first and foremost it's going to be important to try and identify or try and get some sort of idea of where they're coming from and protection is going to be the most important thing this week."
The Jets respect Rodgers so much that they're hell-bent on making this game a horror film.
"If you can get to the quarterback with three, get there with three. If it takes four, get there with four," Ryan said. "If it takes five, six, whatever, I still think it's important to get to the quarterback. You don't have to sack him, but you've got to hit him and you've got to rattle him. A quarterback in this league, if you give him time to throw, they're going to beat you. Every one of them is good enough to beat you. The kid we're playing this week especially can beat you."
Ryan and Pettine will have all their weapons today as CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) is back at 100 percent and OLB Calvin Pace (foot) benefited from the bye week. And with Revis, the NFL's most dominant defender when he's at full strength, the game plan has expanded that much more.
"Certain areas of the call sheet now can be emphasized more than they have been because we can lock certain receivers," said Pettine. "We feel like we have two No.1 corners, so we can lock one side, lock the other side and deal with the rest of the field. It opens some things up for us and we welcome him back. He's had a great week of practice."