Transcript of comments by Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan prior to Wednesday's practice in England. Provided by the Buffalo Bills.
Head coach Rex Ryan
First off I guess I am a little shocked that we have this many people from Buffalo here as I thought we might get one or two but I see that you all made it. This facility right here at The Grove has been absolutely tremendous for us. The people, I mean it is that type of first rate hotel and everything else. But I love the location, as far as we are going to try and make it as normal as a week as possible with traveling across the country. With the set ups of the meetings, the practice, the grass practice field, all that type of stuff, we feel pretty good about it. Really we want to make it as much of a normal business trip as possibly can. This is really a tremendous facility and the people have really been great. I appreciate the fact that the NFL chose us to come over here to try and expand the game and the people and fans here in Europe, I think will be great. Hopefully we can get some Buffalo Bills fans out of this. With that I will go ahead and open it up for questions. I would like to say this there are some guys that did not travel and we do not anticipate any of these guys being available for the week, but we have not ruled them out we have not ruled any of these players out. But these players include Karlos Williams he is in the concussion protocol, as is Seantrel Henderson, Kyle Williams with a knee, and then Percy Harvin has a non-injury related issue, he is pretty much excused for personal reasons so I will just leave it at that. So all of those players we do not anticipate you know having any of those players up for the (game) or being available for this week. But like I said we have not ruled them out, with that I will open it up for questions.
Q: Was Percy’s issue last week the same thing or was it the hip?
A: Well no, I think right now this is a personal thing right now. That were it is.
Q: How does that square with the league with a reported hip injury and now it is personal?
A: Well again I was…he had the hip before. We know he has been battling the hip and things but this is a personal issue.
Q: How would you describe the Bills season so far?
A: About 500, so about 50/50. Some good, some not so good. But really that is where we are, we are a work in progress right now. We are not where we want to be, but I think in my opinion we just got to keep getting better and better each week. I think if we do that at the end of the day we will be where we want to be. But we have had a lot of challenges, we have had a ton of injuries just a bunch of them. That has kind of offset us a little bit. It will be great to get a full healthy team together. But right now we have to make do with where we are at and find a way to get it done. Obviously we are putting everything we have into the preparation for this game, but you know did we want to have a better record. We absolutely did, but we earned the 3-3 record.
Q: How has Tyrod’s knee been progressing and what is his outlook for Sunday?
A: It is too early to tell about his outlook, but obviously he is going through treatments and we will see how he progresses through the week. I really haven’t seen him to tell you any different. Today we will see where he is at.
Q: Your two top defensive linemen have questioned your defensive scheme. What is your reaction to that?
A: Well I would say I probably agree with them when you look at it. Should we have rushed more this past week in particular? That is probably true. I am not perfect as a play caller and all that and I know that surprised you guys, but I try to do the best. If I am going to make a mistake it is going to be something I feel strongly about but if it doesn’t work out at the end of the day, that happens. You know I get it, a lot of times…and I am going to say this, Mario Williams in my opinion I mean he did a tremendous job of dropping when we put him in coverage, and he takes a lot of pride in it and I thought he has done a great job of it. Obviously you know when you look at it you get paid to rush the quarterback, but you also get paid to win. What I was trying to do was get the guy out of rhythm initially. Initially I think it was working pretty well, but I think I lived in it too much. And so I don’t necessarily disagree with Marcell [Dareus] and Mario’s views.
Q: In the past it seems like you have had an attacking style defense, it seems like you have done less blitzing and things like that here through the first six games would you agree with that?
A: I think every game presents its own challenges and things like that. But like I said, there could be some truth to it. But it is not something I have gone in and said well we are going to cut out the blitzing or something like that, I don’t think I have gone in and done it. I just look at when you try to put a package together for a game and stuff like that, we are a multiple defense that is going to change from week to week.
Q: Why is it important to spread football here in the UK?
A: I think it is great. It gives a great audience here. And maybe the people that haven’t been a fan of our football, it gives them an opportunity to witness it. In my opinion these are the greatest athletes in the world but it is a different thing. I look at some as we call soccer or whatever I recognize how great those athletes are, but it is a kind of a different type of thing. This is almost, you know it is so physical and you still got to have you know skill and it’s grace and its own thing. I think it is a sport that will really catch on and I think it really broadens our appeal to Europe. I know there have been years of soccer trying to come into our country and things like that. But I think it is good. If we can get several thousand fans out of this, it will be great. If you become Buffalo Bills fans that would be even better for us.
Q: Has it been misunderstood as a game here?
A: No, I think it is just new. Like anything else it kind of takes time to look at it and to watch. Now you are seeing these games, they are coming over and these are the best of the best that we have to offer. And I think the fans will appreciate it.
Q: How important is the return of LeSean McCoy to your offense?
A: I think we saw last week, he is one of the best backs in the entire league. So obviously when we were playing without him it was a huge loss to us. But the fact that he is coming back, you know is he 100% maybe not but he’s better than 90% of the backs in the league. He is a tremendous talent. He has got heart, he has got toughness, he wants to be out there and contributing to his team. As you guys will see he is a tremendous player.
Q: Is Leodis McKelvin going to start practicing with the team this week and what is his outlook?
A: We will see. Obviously we’ll be smart with him, ask him to be smart about it. But there is only one way to get ready to play football and that is to actually get in there and start doing some football drills and things like that. So yes, he will start at that. Is he going to be limited? Absolutely.
Q: What are the chances Sammy plays this weekend and his outlook after the bye week?
A: I think it is similar to Tyrod [Taylor]’s situation. We will see how it progresses during the week and things. I think we all saw that he left with a boot on and things. So I don’t know if that is a great deal, but our trainers aren’t saying he is out for sure. So we will see, hopefully he progresses. Here is another guy that makes a huge, huge difference for us.
Q: Did Mario and Marcell bring those concerns to the coaching staff directly and do you care that they addressed those things publicly?
A: Well no. I never put a muzzle on a player or whatever. There is no question about that. It is a free country and you are allowed to speak and things whether it is. You know it mentioned two players and a coach, they got a coach in there. Might not have been flattering. Sometimes that happens, in the heat of the battle we are so competitive sometimes when it doesn’t go well you are searching for answers you are doing different things like that. All these guys want to do is help and they want to win. If they make a comment or whatever that’s fine. Shoot I have been cussed at by better than them. It is fine.
Q: Can you remember another time in your career where your defense has come under this kind of scrutiny?
A: No, I haven’t. And I’m definitely irritated about it. I think when I was Morehead State many years ago it was you know that one writer there. But quite honestly and I am being funny because I know where it is going to end up. Guys at this, I would be willing to bet anybody, who wants to bet.
Q: Your scheme is so different from last year and you talk about your scheme conforming to the talent, would you be comfortable coaching that?
A: Well everybody is different. I think you could look at the way we are protecting us, that we are getting an extra man in protection almost every game. So if you lead the league in sacks and you got the kind of line that we have, this just in they are going to try and find ways to block you. And some of them we have seen the ball comes out quick and all of that. We don’t have to lead the league in sacks, we just want to win. If we end up doing that we will all be happy at the end of the day. No, I have never been looked at as the weakness of a football team before, I have always looked at it as a strength. And you know what at the end of the day that is what we will be.
Q: Has the defense lost some of its attitude and do they need to get that back?
A: You know what that is a good question. Because I think when you look at it obviously when things are going well and that attitude is there and you are playing great and playing with a lead and a lot of things happen when you are playing with a lead a lot of good things, sacks, turnovers, things like that. But you know we have had some struggles and it is not just defensively it has been on both sides of the ball and on special teams we have had our issues too. We are not a complete team right now but we are working to be.
Q: If EJ is going to play this week what does he need to do to change his inconsistency?
A: Well I’ll tell you what, I am so proud of EJ that you have no idea the work that he put into it. His preparation was outstanding. Like I mentioned did he wish he had a few throws back, absolutely. You know he misfired here, maybe he had a misread here or whatever but man I mean if he plays I believe he will do a great job. I truly believe that. He wasn’t perfect, but I thought he did a lot of good things in the game. And then he probably wishes he had a couple plays back.
Q: Going back to the defense, how quickly do you think you can solve this problem?
A: Well hopefully this Sunday. You know would be a nice start. But we do, we need to get better and there’s a couple things, we did a pretty good job at. But like I said, I never expected to be where we’re at right now. You know statistically or whatever. But again I’d be more than happy to bet on our players, and bet on our coaches, and bet on myself.
Q: Since the players have voiced their concerns, are you worried about any of them mentally checking out?
A: Man, that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about these guys. Look, so we gotta flush the toilet so to speak, on one game. There’s no question about it, we gotta get better and that’s what we gotta do. But our guys checking out? Nah, I don’t think so. They’re hungry. We want to get better. We want to get better collectively, you know as a football team we wanna get better.
Q: The players seem to be talking a lot about play calling, but when I watch the tape it appears they just aren’t playing as well as they used to. Do you agree with that?
A: No and again we haven’t had the results that we’ve wanted. There’s no question about that. But it’s not due to lack of effort, I can assure you that, and desire, and passion and all that – we have it. It’s just the result hasn’t quite been what we wanted it to be. But again I think, I truly believe that we’re gonna get better and it’s getting ready to happen around the corner.
Q: As much as you say how nice it is here, how challenging is it to try and recover and do all the things you want to do being in a different country, time zone, and all that?
A: Well no I think it’s…You know hey it’s a level playing field. Both teams have the same issues of traveling and things like that. We’re doing it different then they are. I kind of like the way we did it. You know come out here, they have a couple days to recover, and now you get back in it and try to make it as normal of a week as we can. As I mentioned, we have the facilities here. They’ve done a tremendous job here. So I think that won’t be an excuse. If we lose the game it’s not gonna have anything to do with the facilities or anything else in my opinion.
Q: Did you have the option of coming later like the Jaguars?
Q: What thought went into spending the week here?
A: Well it went in…You know I talked to a lot of people who have done this trip before and obviously I went with being advised to go a week early, give them the two days, and that’s exactly what we did. So we’ll see how it goes. I just felt even for me after the first day I was like wow, you know the time change is a factor. And so as some of you guys maybe just came in, it’s what about two in the morning right now or whatever it is? So that’s a difference. I just think getting here for the entire week and get your body clock a chance to reset itself and be ready to go. So that’s why we did what we did.
Q: Wednesday is typically your day to ramp up practice a little bit. Any concern with the field conditions and weather here today?
A: No, the fields terrific. It absolutely is terrific. You know we’ve gone out there, you can’t even pull the grass out. Like it’s as tight, you guys will see it when you get out there. They’ve done an amazing job with it.
Q: Are there positives to being isolated in a foreign country right now? Given some issues with adversity you’re dealing with the team right now.
A: We planned on it. That we were gonna go through these tough times. So let’s get away from everybody. That’s why half of you aren’t supposed to be here. That would have made it easier. But you know what, nah we’ll face the music. We got no problem facing the music and you know hey, we’re obviously disappointed. We’re disappointing ourselves, we’re disappointing our fans, we get all that. But man we’re gonna do what we can to right the ship.
Q: Athletes are gonna want to come back from injury even when they’re not 100 percent. How are you gonna balance that with the fact you have a bye week coming up but also the urgency to win this game, a team you’re supposed to beat?
A: Well yeah I don’t know if Jacksonville would say that or not but we know how important this game is. There’s no question about it. But at the same time we will never put a player on the field that isn’t ready to defend himself, protect himself or be a factor. And if we fell that, regardless of how big the game is, we’ll never put that player at risk.
Q: Do you have a timeline of Kyle Williams?
A: No. You know obviously it looked, you know it looks like a pretty significant injury.
Q: Is there any chance for Jordan Mills to start over Cyrus Kouandijo?
A: Well, we’re happy to have both guys here. We’ll see what happens but obviously Cyrus has already been here. I thought he did a…you know it wasn’t a perfect job. But I though he stepped in in some tough situations this past week and I thought he did a decent job.
Q: Is Percy Harvin’s issue short term or long term?
A: I’m not gonna touch any of it. I just leave it as where it is right now.
Q: Going back to Kyle Williams and his injury. He’s such a leader in this locker room, how much does that one hurt?
A: Well I just think that veteran presence and things like that. I think you’re right, I think it…you know he’s got such a great deal of experience, and knowledge and everything else, and I think guys really lean on him. The fact he’s not here, yeah I mean it certainly doesn’t help us.
Q: Can you tell the British audience what the most exciting thing about American Football is?
A: Well the Buffalo Bills are exciting. So you need to wrap your arms around that a bit. But I just think it’s such a physical, skillful game and it’s different. You know cause it’s upper body, it’s all this kind of stuff. But it’s, I think it takes a lot of courage to play this sport. And courage to me is, you know it’s not crazy. But courage to me is that you’re a little scared, but you go anyway and I think that’s kind of what it is. That’s what’s so special about this sport and I say mighty men play this sport. And I mean mighty men play this sport. It’s not for everybody.