Rex Ryan has broken his silence.
The former Buffalo Bills' coach did a wide-ranging interview with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News on Monday night.
"I set the expectations too high," Ryan said in his first comments since getting fired two days after Christmas. "Like, boy, that's a shock. In a way, I felt, why not us? I stepped in where the head coach had quit, the defensive coordinator quit and the quarterback quit on them. So, I thought that it was important at the time to say, 'You know what? Shoot, I believe in you. And I'm proud to be the coach here.' Every bit of that was true.
"I put that truck around town. I was all-in. Even though those other three had quit, I wasn't a quitter. I was ready. And I wanted to be there. And I wanted to win. And I thought I could win."
As for that famous Ford pickup truck ...
"Let me tell you, I stripped that damn truck the day I got fired," Ryan added with a laugh. "(Expletive) you guys."
— Brandon Wilczynski (@BrandonWNY) January 16, 2017
It's true that former coach Doug Marrone did walk away from the team and quarterback Kyle Orton retired, but Ryan's memory on the defensive coordinator is hazy at best. Jim Schwartz left the Bills, but that made way for Ryan to bring Dennis Thurman with him from New York.
"I don't wish them bad will," Ryan said of the Bills. "I don't. But I don't wish them luck, either. I'll be honest: I don't wish them good luck. I don't wish them bad luck. I just don't wish them luck. I wish the Jets luck."
Ryan, who will work for ESPN at Sunday's Super Bowl, will still collect the roughly $16.5 million the Bills owe him after he was fired with three years left on his contract.
"I'm really not that bitter and maybe that $15 million is one of the reasons," he said. "I'm not bitter, man. … Yeah, I'm hurt. I was hurt by it. There's no question. But bitter ain't how I feel. I'm like, 'Shoot, if they never wanted me here, then fine. I ain't here. I'm not your coach anymore. Fine and dandy.' But I got an opportunity in front of me that a lot of guys don't get. I'm going to see where it takes me.
"Maybe this a different career and I really enjoy it. I'm hoping that's the way it is. Maybe I get into and I don't like it. Maybe they don't like me. Maybe I go back to doing something I love, which is coaching. I'll never say never. I'm a young guy still. … I'm healthy. But bitter? Nah. Not bitter, man. I'm really not."
Ryan has a 61-66 record as a head coach, including a 15-16 mark with the Bills, and hasn't had a winning season in six years.
"I wasn't real lucky coming in there with the situation I did," he said. "Hey, that's the way it goes. No excuses. We went in there and did the best we could. I wish things would have been different. I wish Sammy Watkins wouldn't have had a broken foot and been healthy the whole year. I wish our draft picks would have played. There's a lot of things that I wished for, but at the end of the day, I'm responsible for the product on the field."
Ryan said he wasn't given a reason by owner Terry Pegula for being fired.
"It doesn't matter what I think," he said. "When the owners make that decision that it's time to get rid of you, then they get rid of you. I've been around this business long enough to know that's how it works. That's the reality of the business. I've been real fortunate. I got two opportunities when a lot of great coaches don't get any. How many were realistic opportunities? I'm not sure, but at least I had a chance to step up to the plate. So, that's something I'll always be grateful for.
"I wanted to put myself in a situation where I thought I could be successful and where I'd have support. Because I think that's all I need," he continued. "That's going to be debated and questioned. They'll say I'm a .500 coach. … There's a reason why things happened. I know I put forth an effort to try to build a championship team and to be a champion. And it hasn't worked out.
"Hopefully if I get back into it one day, I'll be able to do it. Sometimes you can't accomplish all your goals in life. I like competing against the very best. There's no doubt about it. Unfortunately, I was never good enough to win it all… you know, so far."
Ryan indicated he's not interested in becoming a defensive coordinator at this time. His deal for ESPN is only for the Super Bowl, but it's likely he'll land on TV full time next season.
"The one thing about (being on TV) is that you don't lose," he said. "You'll remember every damn loss. But the wins? You don't necessarily remember. So, it takes a lot out of you. I'm tired of getting (expletive). Unless it's a real situation, there's no sense of getting into it again."