If you’re like me, you’ll try to read quotes from people you know (or at least famous people whose voices you know) in their tone of voice and with their inflection. I apologize if I’m the only oddball who does this, but I can’t help myself whenever I read things quoting people I know. So it’s odd, then, when I see the original footage from whence said quotes came and the tone of the speaker doesn’t match what I have in my head.
This is what happened yesterday when I watched Rex Ryan’s post-game press conference.
For years now, Ryan has been the braggadocios foil to most every other vanilla football coach. Where Rex is, soundbites are. However, to listen to his conference yesterday, where he had to explain another horrendous effort from his “vaunted” defense, was to listen to a man defeated. This was not the Rex Ryan who guaranteed the Jets would win the Super Bowl, nor was it the man who told Bills’ fans to “get ready” to go back to the playoffs. Instead, this was a man who sounded dejected, tired, and at a complete loss for what to do to stem the tide of negativity surrounding his football team.
When asked about the defense’s failures (and he was asked that same question repeatedly), he refused to put all of the blame on one side of the ball. I can respect that, as anyone with two eyes and some football sense knows that 21 minutes of possession and a long drive of 6 plays from your offense just isn’t going to cut it. However, it was his response to a question about Le’Veon Bell’s record-setting day that stuck out to me.
“Obviously it’s disappointing when you get the ball run at you like that, there’s no question about it, but you’re sitting back* and that’s a tough offense.”
Never mind the talk that came before, where Ryan discussed 7-man spacing versus 8-man spacing. This is the same coach who said he wanted to “build a bully,” who wanted other teams to fear his defense, whose entire coaching reputation is based on his defenses dictating the game, and he’s saying that his team was “sitting back” against an elite running back. Sitting back is akin to allowing the other team to dictate the tempo and terms of the game, which is the direct opposite of what has supposedly made him great. Sure, he may have misspoken, but I’m not so sure; watching the game, it was clear that the Bills’ defense was on its heels for the majority of the game. Another reporter mentioned the fact that the defense looked like it “wasn’t there” to begin the game, to which Ryan smirked and replied, “We were there. I think they just made some great plays on us.” When confronted with the same question of the defense failing, Ryan accentuated a positive instead of acknowledging that failure; he mentioned Ben Roethlisberger’s 37 quarterback rating as proof that part of his plan was successful.
Other nuggets from the presser included:
- When asked if he deserves to retain his job, he proclaimed, “Dang right.”
- While he would not say it directly, he mentioned that Tyrod Taylor struggled because Pittsburgh “...got to the quarterback 5 times today...that might have something to do with it.”
- To his credit, he was asked multiple times about players giving less than their best effort, and he would not throw them under the bus to the media by agreeing.
What might Rex’s future hold? For starters, he has his usual Monday press conference scheduled for today at 4:40, so it appears that reports of his imminent demise are not quite as accurate as some would like. While Ryan said he was not coaching for his job, he was merely coaching to win football games, it certainly seems as if he will have to end this season on a positive note in order to maintain his current employment status.