Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets Show More
And New York's other coach? There may not be a more respected leader in Belichick's eyes than Tom Coughlin.
Ryan has turned his Belichick tweaks into a cottage industry, what with all the references to kissing Belichick's Super Bowl rings and kicking his you-know-what. Not only would Coughlin never say anything so controversial about another coach, but Belichick is the last guy he'd even think of sniping at.
The two will match wits against one another on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Their friendship goes back more than two decades to when both were Giants assistants under Bill Parcells -- Belichick as defensive coordinator/secondary coach and Coughlin as receivers coach.
You want the greatest sign of respect from Belichick toward Coughlin: The effusive -- and heartfelt -- praise he showered on the coach yesterday. As they prepare to face each other for the first time in a regular-season game since the Giants upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Belichick recalled his association with Coughlin warmly.
"He does a great job, and he really helped me a lot when I was with the Giants," Belichick said. "He came in as the receivers coach [in 1988] and I was the defensive coordinator. I moved to the secondary when Al Groh came in. Al coached the linebackers. Tom and I had a good relationship there because we worked against each other every day in one-on-one, seven-on-seven and different passing drills. He talked a lot about how the receivers would attack different coverages with different techniques and we talked about different receivers.
"I learned a lot during those years with Tom as the defensive backs coach," he said. "It definitely helped me from an offensive perspective . . . I always admired what Tom has done. He is a good football coach, good person and good man. He treats people fairly, he is honest and he is tough. I respect all those things."
Coughlin looks back with equal admiration.
"Bill and I had a very, very good working relationship," he said. "If I was asked to demonstrate some routes or put ourselves in position where perhaps it might have some man coverage adjustments that the secondary needed to see, we were more than happy to do that. I really do feel like the way in which we worked was something that became, for our entire team, a good example for the rest of our coaches and players in terms of cooperating so that we could be the best that we could be."
They have met three times in the regular season, with Coughlin holding a 2-1 edge.
That one loss, however, proved to be far more valuable than expected. With the Giants already assured of a playoff berth heading into the final game of the 2007 regular season, Coughlin decided to use all his starters against the Patriots, who were attempting to become the first team in NFL history to go 16-0 in the regular season.
The Giants lost the game, 38-35, but they experienced a surge in confidence heading into the playoffs. And after three straight road victories in the postseason, they won the rematch against the Patriots on the biggest stage of all. The underdog Giants beat New England, 17-14.
As good as both coaches were that season, neither has won a playoff game since. Which explains why they haven't spent a lot of time this week dwelling on a game from nearly four years ago. "That was a long time ago and our focus is this week," Belichick said. "I don't think that game will have too much bearing on this one."
He only hopes the outcome isn't the same.