Rob Ryan, who is the defensive coordinator for the visiting Saints, is entering the game with a revamped defense that has greatly improved since giving up the most yards per game last year. He will be tasked with facing off against his brother and rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who looks to make amends from last week's game where he was benched in the fourth quarter.
"It's a great opportunity for us again," said Smith on facing New Orleans. "Once again, a tough team is coming in. They have a great record. They've been playing great football on both sides of the ball, so we've got a tough task ahead of us."
The two Ryan brothers have faced each other a total of nine times over their coaching careers, including their first meeting in 1987 when, as a defensive ends coach, Rex and Eastern Kentucky defeated Western Kentucky where Rob was a graduate assistant. Overall, Rex owns a 6-3 record against his twin brother. Rex believes that the key to beating the his brother's defense lies in the arm of his quarterback, and is doing everything he can to teach Smith about what to expect.
"They have caused a few turnovers and that's kind of the mentality of the defense," stated the rookie quarterback. "They try to throw a lot at you and get you out of rhythm, get you to rush some things." "I've got to protect the ball," he added.
Despite a high completion percentage against the Bengals, Smith is coming off his worst total QBR (4.7) rating in his young career. Adding to his turnover totals with two more interceptions, he has now thrown 13 picks over the course of the season, including at least one in three straight games. He also has thrown more than one interception in all but three games this season.
"Being patient is the key in this game," said Smith on the key to victory. "Not to force things, not to try and put too much on your own shoulders and take the game into your own hands. Just getting the ball in the hands of the playmakers, allowing them to do all the work."