When former Buffalo Bills coach and current ESPN analyst Rex Ryan was asked Wednesday for his thoughts on the New York Giants benching quarterback Eli Manning, Ryan responded that it felt similar to the end of last season, when he was "told" to bench quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Ryan, in an appearance on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo," said that he refused to bench Taylor for the season finale and asked that he just be fired if that's what owner Terry Pegula was planning on doing after the season anyway. That matches with a story in Sports Illustrated after the season but raised a question about ownership's involvement in quarterback decisions.
"When I was approached last year – knowing I wasn't going to be there, all that type of stuff – and I was told to bench Tyrod Taylor, I'm like, there's no way. I'm not doing it," Ryan said. "So you might as well fire me now because I'm not doing it. And I thought it was the wrong move, it sent the wrong message to the locker room – we're not going to play him because we're out of it, but it's OK to play you. How's that guy going to feel? Well, they went out and got beat by the Jets' JV team."
Host Trey Wingo followed up and asked who told Ryan to sit Taylor.
"It was strongly suggested that we play EJ Manuel the last game," Ryan said, which is also potentially interesting given interim coach Anthony Lynn's initial slip-up about wanting to start Cardale Jones. "And I talked to Terry Pegula and we had an understanding that he was going to move on [from me], and I'm like, nah, I just as soon – that's not going to happen. I told that kid from Day One that he's my quarterback and that's how I felt about it. And so that's kind of what happened and what went down."
A Bills spokesman said the team had no comment on Ryan's remarks.
In light of the Bills' recent decision to bench Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman (which Ryan slammed – twice), Ryan was asked a veiled question about whether McDermott really made that call given that ownership had stepped in before.
"That situation right there, you know, did McDermott make the call or whatever, I have no idea. He certainly owned it, which he should one way or the other," Ryan said, adding that he didn't think the decision was made specific to the Bills' opponent that week. "Tyrod Taylor's a decent quarterback, and you're going to put in this other kid who clearly wasn't ready to play? And now there's talk that they may go back to him? Well, what?
"I think we've seen enough that this kid's not ready. He's got to prove that he can play in the NFL at some point, period, not as the starting quarterback in the NFL. And Tyrod Taylor's got the lowest interception percentage in the history of the National Football League. The reason you won those games is because of him. So that's why I was so shocked about that one."