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Vic Carucci's Bills Wake-Up Call: Ryan knows better than to take on fans

You can question plenty about Rex Ryan.

You can call his ground-and-pound offensive mentality antiquated. You can second-guess his game-management decisions. You can accuse him of being thin-skinned, especially when it comes to criticism of his defensive scheme.

But one thing that's undeniable about Ryan is this: he knows enough never to pick a fight with the fans.

The Buffalo Bills' coach always wants them to believe that, at least figuratively, he's sitting right next to them in the stands, throwing back beers and munching on nachos.

And when it's time to go home, he's climbing into that big pickup truck covered with the Bills' logo, showing off every bit as much loyalty as they do -- even if the team does pay millions of dollars for his.

That was why Ryan wasn't about to take the bait the other day when a reporter asked him about the fact there was quite a bit of booing in the first half of last Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Our team never got booed," he said. "I think our fans are great. They stay with our team all the way."

Perhaps they do.

But a fairly loud segment of the 67,000-plus at New Era Field last Sunday expressed clear displeasure with an offense that was doing nothing and a defense that was stopping nothing. Anyone within ear shot heard that, including Ryan.

He was ready with a dose of classic Rex spin.

"I think the booing was directed at me," he said. "And our team understands that."

Of course, Ryan was a target and, of course, he knew his players -- and especially quarterback Tyrod Taylor -- were, too. He just wanted to deliver a message that his shoulders are broad enough to allow him to take the heat for everyone connected with the Bills.

Ryan understands that those fans with whom he feels he relates so well are going to be particularly important as the Bills go through their stretch run, because three of the final five games are at home. One of them is against the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose fans have a way of bringing a large chunk of Heinz Field to pretty much every road venue.

Ryan wants to do everything he can to let the Bills faithful know he's got their back ... even if they don't always necessarily have his.

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