The ESPN tryout of Rex Ryan on Super Bowl Sunday wasn’t the greatest of all time, but the former Buffalo Bills coach was very comfortable in front of the microphone.
That shouldn’t be surprising since he won the news conference when he was hired, too.
The Classy Rex, not the Outrageous Rex who recently slammed his Bills experience, showed up for three hours alongside Suzy Kolber, Steve Young and Odell Beckham.
I don’t think Rex mentioned the Bills once.
He started off with a joke.
“True to my prediction, I would be in the Super Bowl,” said Ryan. “I guaranteed I’d be there and here it is … I guess it is a little different.”
Dressed sharply, Ryan was best making self-deprecating jokes, including how New England quarterback Tom Brady carved up his defense sometimes.
And when ESPN showed a graphic that illustrated Ryan had beaten Patriots Coach Bill Belichick as often as any coach, Ryan noted he had also lost to Belichick more than any other coach.
ESPN also could have noted the fifth Ryan win that tied him with Mike Shanahan with wins over Belichick came in the 2016 season when Brady was suspended and rookie Jacoby Brissett was New England’s quarterback.
Ryan’s best line occurred after he conceded the occasional success he had against Brady was overwhelmed by the times his defense was destroyed.
“The times I got destroyed I was on the sideline I had the ‘I Hope Defense,’ " said Ryan. "I felt like this. 'I hope Brady is off, I hope Brady is sick, I hope the receiver drops the ball. I hope, I hope, I hope.'”
The Bills seemed to play that defense a lot in Ryan’s two seasons as coach.
It also seemed to be working for Atlanta early in its 34-28 loss to New England Sunday as Brady was off and his receivers were dropping balls. But in the fourth quarter and overtime Brady became Brady and the hopes of many Bills that he would fall flat on his face were dashed.
Ryan indirectly gave Brady a pass on Deflategate by saying “let’s get real” before adding that Brady could complete a pass if he were throwing a basketball.
“It makes no difference what the football looks like,” added Ryan.
One of the more entertaining moments of the pregame show involving Ryan came when ESPN showed how quickly Ryan and Patriots Coach Belichick shook hands after games as comedian Frank Caliendo narrated the brief dialogue he invented. “That was very accurate right there,” said Ryan.
Rex’s one moment of braggadocio came when he was asked to predict the Super Bowl winner. And he wasn’t serious.
After cracking “it is very well known I’m outstanding with my predictions,” Ryan picked the Pats, 28-21. Ten of the 11 people on ESPN picked the Pats, with Charles Woodson the only one to go for the Falcons after saying he lives in Atlanta.
The 10 experts who picked the Patriots turned out to be right, even though they looked awfully silly for more than three quarters of the game and the end result showed how dangerous it is to bet on NFL games.
If I were a betting man, I’d say the Self-Deprecating Ryan did well enough Sunday to find a roster spot on ESPN, Fox Sports 1 or one of the broadcast networks covering the NFL next season. But he may have to show more of his outrageous side if he wants to last longer on TV than he did with the Bills.