After the final practice of today's mandatory minicamp, ESPN’s Trey Wingo had plenty to say about Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills.
None of it was very positive.
It would seem that Wingo is among the many, many observers and fans who are tired of Ryan’s constant bloviating about how good he and his players are and how everything is always sunny at One Bills Drive. In that regard, Wingo fits right in with a large contingent of Bills fans.
He took particular issue with Rex's comments that the Bills "won the offseason," bringing up two divergent points.
- The Bills may have had the worst offseason
- Teams that win the offseason don't win championships
Setting aside the fact that his logic seems to make the Bills the odds-on favorites to be win Super Bowl LI, there are a few points I took issue with.
First of all, I don’t think the Bills had the worst offseason. (By the way, Ryan's headline-worthy comment was actually further explained to be centered around the weight-room dedication and conditioning of his players.)
The Bills didn’t lose their starting quarterback to retirement, have his heir apparent swiped in free agency and have their franchise player refuse to play without a long-term deal that they seem unwilling to provide. They also didn’t lose several starters to free agency, cut a former first-round pick at quarterback after a spectacular flameout, and find themselves forced to turn to a former baseball executive in the front office and a presumptive starting quarterback who didn’t play a down last season.
Wingo did list a few things that went wrong for the Bills in the offseason, beginning with the hiring of Rob Ryan as an assistant head coach. Many fans have a problem with that, largely due to a general malaise towards anything related to Rex these days as well as Rob’s failure last season in New Orleans. I’m not a huge fan of the hire, either, but my bigger problem is that it seems like the coaching staff is almost as large as the roster. I’m pretty sure that Smarf is going to be the assistant running backs coach by training camp.
The second reason Wingo cites is the losses of Mario Williams and Percy Harvin. I hesitate to even call Williams a loss after last season, and even Wingo notes that he "stopped playing for them a while ago, anyway." As for Harvin, he didn’t stick around long enough to make much of an impact last season, anyway, although the questionable receiver depth makes probably makes a few fans wish he’d been able to stick around a while longer.
Finally, Wingo touches on the injuries to Shaq Lawson and Sammy Watkins, specifically noting the controversy around Lawson’s shoulder surgery. I already touched on that a while ago, but I’ll restate it here while also applying it to Watkins’ foot: they’ll miss some time, but they’re playing this season. They're also playing next season, and several seasons after that. They're great football players, and short-term injuries don't change that.
I can even throw out a few points he didn't bring up. The team's starting running back was investigated after fighting off-duty police officers in Philadelphia. His backup showed up to minicamp about 20 pounds overweight (Edit: Wingo did mention this at the very end of the video, in passing). The starting quarterback and top cornerback are both entering contract years, and neither seem to be terribly close to signing long-term deals. I'd say those were better points than most of what the NFL Live team came up with.
Wingo had trouble coming up with anything nice to say about the Bills offseason. Honestly, the positives were few, but they were there. The draft class was almost universally graded in the upper quarter of the league, at least with regards to talent. They brought back two highly regarded offensive linemen with long-term deals, and ensured continuity up front that they haven’t had in decades. They didn’t bring in any major free agents, but on the flip side of that coin they weren’t forced to overpay anybody this year, either.
Let’s be honest: the Bills didn’t win the offseason. I completely understand the frustration that creeps up in people when Rex either disregards or fails to recognize that not everything is coming up roses for the team right now. At this point, though, I’ve just tuned all that out. I find myself more frustrated when someone counters his hyperbole with their own, which is exactly what Wingo did here.