"He stepped in there and nailed it," Sandler said Wednesday of the Jets head coach's movie acting debut in "That's My Boy," the R-rated Sandler film that opens widely Friday.
Ryan plays an attorney who represents Sandler's character and who is a passionate fan of the Patriots, particularly of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, who are referenced in Ryan's first scene.
And there was this, too: "We thought it would be funny because we wanted a lawyer that could handle degenerates well, and we knew Rex could handle anyone," Sandler said.
Ryan agreed to accept the gig. Sandler's reaction? "I can't believe the great coach said OK to it. It was cool as hell."
Sandler said Ryan was "100 percent prepared, like every coach is, stepped in there nailed it, didn't realize he was going to have do about 600 takes, but he rolled with the punches."
Even the many Patriots fans on the set were won over. "He's such a great guy and such a real man even Pats fans said, 'I gotta say, that guy is cool,' " Sandler said. "I'm not saying they're going to be Jets fans, but once you meet the coach it's hard to root against the guy. He's a stud."
Sandler said Ryan's opening scene always generates a reaction in screenings he has attended, beginning with one during Super Bowl week in Indianapolis.
"It gets a quick buzz in the crowd, like, 'How the hell did they get the coach to do this part?' " Sandler said. "And he does kill pretty hard, so I'm very happy."
Ryan saw the film with a group of Jets players and other team personnel last week and said he thought it was "terrific." But it is not for everyone.
"There is some pretty filthy stuff in there, no doubt about it," Sandler said. "But it's ultimately a movie about a father and son connecting."
Ryan said his father, Buddy, has not yet seen the movie but plans to do so this weekend.
Sandler said Belichick and Brady gave permission for their names to be used. "They're great guys and they were cool," he said. "They like Rex and they knew it would be fun to have him be a Pats fan and they were totally game."
Ryan chose to have his character named Jim Nance, after the Patriots' star running back of the 1960s (and briefly a Jet in 1973).
"I tell you what, I definitely felt like a fish out of water, but it was fantastic," he said. "[Sandler] was hysterical. I am telling you, all the time he is this way . . . It was great. They make you feel good."