Rex Ryan is 53-58 as an NFL head coach. But he’s always been undefeated in front of a microphone.
Maybe no coach can energize, re-energize and re-re-energize a fan base quite like Rex Ryan. Both Doug Plank and Joe DeLamielleure, unprompted, compared Ryan to Donald Trump.
Well, on Wednesday, Ryan indicated his Trump-like moments may dwindle.
What has he learned this season? Ryan wishes he didn’t “say some stupid thing that I said.” He later explained that “stupid thing” was promising last January at his introductory news conference that the Bills would end their playoff drought, which has now extended to 16 seasons.
In large part to Ryan’s very-public, very-unabashed passion, the Bills set season ticket sales records.
On Wednesday, he was much more subdued. And while it’s hard to imagine Ryan ever completely changing, don’t expect any bold declarations anytime soon.
“I just honestly, 100-percent believed that,” Ryan said of the playoff promise. “I absolutely did, without question.”
Instead, players never adjusted to Ryan’s scheme on defense, injuries mounted and now the Bills are 7-8 heading into the regular-season finale. They’ll try to play spoiler Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium – if the New York Jets win, they’re in.
Ryan isn’t going to prohibit his players from speaking out. He wants fans to have an “honest” picture of the team, a refreshing philosophy in today’s NFL for sure. As far as his own comments go, he plans on toning down the rhetoric.
“I think you see the impact it has,” Ryan said. “My heart was in the right place, I thought I’m telling the truth. But at the same time, it’s like I never look at it as ‘What if this doesn’t go exactly the way I expect it to go?’ Well, I’m seeing right now.”
Ryan’s words came back to bite him and he wasn’t alone. Many players on defense set the bar sky high, too.
Inside linebacker Preston Brown echoed his coach.
“I’m pretty sure it won’t be any guarantees or anything like that,” Brown said, “like we did this year or saying we’re going to be the No. 1 defense. We’re going to go out there and play. I mean, we had way too much talk. We had a lot of things that we just didn’t handle so going into the offseason, we just got to find ways to get the job done the right way.”
In New York, Ryan guaranteed the Jets would reach the Super Bowl and didn’t deliver. Now, fans in Buffalo have that empty feeling.
“Our fans, look they’re frustrated,” Ryan said. “They believe like I did and I love the fact they believed in me. There’s no question about that. I feel bad that I didn’t deliver, that’s how I look at it. There’s no question about it. I know what I think and what the future holds for this team.
“The part about making the boasts, whatever, as bad as I truly believe it, maybe I’ve learned that maybe it’s not the smartest thing to do.”
Running back LeSean McCoy will likely miss the Bills’ finale against New York with his knee injury. He didn’t practice Wednesday and Ryan said “it probably doesn’t look real good.”
Guard John Miller (ankle) and safety Bacarri Rambo (knee, shoulder) also did not practice. Inside linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), cornerback Ronald Darby (groin), defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (neck), quarterback Tyrod Taylor (right shoulder) and defensive end Mario Williams (hand) were all limited.
Taylor said he took every rep at practice and has no doubts he’ll start Sunday. After carrying the ball 14 times last week – some designed, some by choice – Taylor acknowledged he’s still seeking the right balance.
“Just more the feeling of the game,” Taylor said. “Of course you want to be smart whenever you get a chance to take off and run. Protect your body. But sometimes you have to get the first down. So if it’s a matter of me getting a first down then I’m going try to get that. I’m not going shy away from it but there’s definitely opportunities where I can get down.”