Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, and Nick Saban. Any story that involves any one of those three could be considered applicable to a website that covers the Miami Dolphins. The head coaches of the New York Jets and the New England Patriots face the Dolphins twice every year, and there are few people who raise the ire of South Florida fans than Saban, who lied his way out of being the Dolphins head coach so he could become the head coach of Alabama. Throw all three of them into one story, and it becomes a perfect blend of everything you would expect from those three men.
According to Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine, who served as the Jets' defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012, his playbooks with his new club are basic for a specific reason. "I don't put a lot of graduate-level information in it," Petting told The Monday Morning Quarterback's Greg A. Bedard. "We know in places like New England, it's only a matter of time that they somehow mysteriously end up with our playbook."
Pettine went on to explain that at former Patriots (and Dolphins) wide receiver Wes Welker's wedding in 2012, New England quarterback Tom Brady bragged to Jets linebackers coach, and Welker's college roommate, Mike Smith, who in 2013 moved to Texas Tech as the co-defensive coordinator, that New England "may or may not have had possession of a couple Jets defensive playbooks."
How exactly did Belichick's Patriots wind up with Ryan's Jets' playbook?
"It didn't shock me because Rex would give them out like candy anyway," Pettine continued. "He gave one out to Saban and I was like, ‘Don't you know Saban and Bill are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it's going to end up in New England.'"
Why Ryan would give Saban a copy of the playbook? Anyone is welcome to guess. Ryan has spoken at Saban sponsored events, and perhaps thought allowing Saban to look at the plays and provide feedback would be beneficial. Maybe he really did just give them out like candy, handing them to anyone he met. Who knows.
If it is true that Ryan just gave out playbooks, something we have repeatedly seen being a closely guarded item, and the first thing a player hands to his coaches when he is cut, every season of Hard Knocks, then it really should not be surprised that New England found a way to acquire it. It is really Ryan's own fault.
The Boston Globe's Ben Volin (coincidentally, a former Dolphins beat writer, just to keep the ties going in this story) asked Belichick about possessing the Jets' playbook after the Patriots' minicamp workout today. "You've got to talk to Mike Pettine. I don't know."
At least the Patriots don't have to waste videotape to get the Jets' plays, anymore.
Nick Saban / Alabama have issued a statement denying Saban would give Belichick the Jets' playbook. The statement, issued by an Alabama spokesman, says the playbook is still in Saban's office.
Ryan also addressed the story today, admitting he did give the playbook to Saban, but that an insinuation that New England has acquired it is "ridiculous" and "disrespectful" of the Patriots. "Every single game, your playbook changes," Ryan said, according to CBS New York. "Your game plan changes every single week. Your playbook, if you study your opponent, is based on your preparation. This thing has probably been blown out of proportion a little bit. To me, this is a lot to do about nothing.
"It sounds like everybody's got to talk to Pettine because it seems like he's got all the information. I don't understand what he's trying to gain with it."