Here are my three thoughts on the Buffalo Bills:
>Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan are more than capable of making outlandish remarks in separate forums. Put them together, and you get the sort of fireworks that came out of their joint interview last week with Jenny Vrentas of MMQB.
Vrentas covered Rex when he coached the New York Jets. She told me Saturday, during our discussion with her on SiriusXM NFL Radio, that she had first requested an interview with Rob in January, after he was named the Bills' assistant head coach/defense. It wasn't until five months later that he agreed to it. As a bonus, he wanted his twin brother with him.
It took little prompting, according to Vrentas, to get Rex and Rob to sound off as they did on a variety of topics, with Rex taking shots at former Bills defensive end Mario Williams for criticizing Rex's scheme and Rob blaming his struggles as a coordinator in New Orleans on being forced to run a defense other than his own.
"Honestly, it's the two of them sitting next to each other," Vrentas said. "They feel more comfortable, I think, sharing some of the things that are on their mind. A lot of times, you would hear Rex make a point and then Rob would back it up or make it for him. I think they encouraged each other a little bit.
"But I've covered Rex for a long time. He never puts things out there without sort of a plan. And I think there were some things they wanted to clear up. They wanted to get their side of things, whether it be what happened in New Orleans last season or Rex's opinion of why they'll be more successful in Buffalo this season. Whatever that was, they wanted to get their version out there."
>It's fair to say that Ed Reed's impact as the Bills' new assistant defensive backs coach has a chance to go beyond whatever he's able to teach the players in his position group.
Players at other positions can't help but pay attention to what he was doing during last week's OTA practices. Not only are they inspired by it, but, with Reed's playing history in Rex Ryan's defense, they also see ways he can help them learn the scheme.
Outside linebacker Jerry Hughes, for one, expects the entire defense to benefit from Reed's presence.
"We all grew up watching him, we’re all big fans," Hughes said. "So just for him to be around us, to kind of put that game-field knowledge, someone who’s been out there on the field playing it at 100 miles per hour, someone who understands the defense because he kind of grew up in it, so he’s definitely adding that element where he’s becoming really relatable to us. You know, breaking it down into terms we understand so we can use it on the game field and just play a whole lot faster."
>OTA practices can be a good time for experimentation, to try something over the course of a handful of offseason workouts to see if it's worth continuing in training camp and beyond.
The Bills are in the midst of such a project with T.J. Barnes. Signed last year as a free-agent defensive tackle, Barnes was working with the offensive linemen last week.
When asked about it, Rex Ryan used the example of Jason Peters, whom the Bills signed as an undrafted free-agent tight end in 2004 before converting him to offensive tackle. Peters went onto have a Pro Bowl career, and then wind up in a salary dispute that resulted in his being traded to Philadelphia.
"This guy is such a big man," Ryan said of the 6-foot-7, 364-pound Barnes. "He’s smart, a graduate of Georgia Tech, so I was like, you know, let’s give him a shot there. We can always move him back, but let’s give him a shot at O-line and see how he does. Obviously, right now he looks a little lost, to say the least, but I’m confident.
"I think he’s got the mental makeup for it, I think he’s smart, I think he’s got two great coaches over there that are working with him (in Aaron Kromer and Pat Meyer) on a daily basis. He’s got a great room of offensive line guys, learning from a Cordy Glenn or a Richie Incognito and Eric Wood. These guys are going to try to take him under their wing as well and so we’ll see how he develops."