The last time former Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan spoke publicly about his ex-team, he didn’t have many nice things to say. That interview was back in January, shortly after Ryan was fired as head coach. He’s since calmed down and now is singing a much different tune in relation to the Bills.
A recent USA Today prediction had the Bills finishing the upcoming season 4-12. Ryan had a simple response: “there's no way in hell," the coach told Alan Pergament of The Buffalo News.
The No. 1 takeaway from the conversation with the now-ESPN employee was his vehement disagreement with the USA Today projection. He also makes the case he shouldn’t have been fired using that prediction.
"That's a coach's dream, to have that kind of prediction because there is no pressure on you but I think that is total bull. If that is the case, why was I fired when I was fired if that's how bad this team was? So I don't get that. To saddle them with four wins, I totally disagree with that."
"I feel the Bills will surprise a ton of people," continued Ryan. "They are kind of trying to float this under the radar stuff, which I get. That's probably the way to go, that's the way everybody goes. Undersell and overproduce. I get it. I believe they will have a lot better year than the experts. Could they be a playoff team? They might very well be."
While Ryan asserts that he and general manager Doug Whaley were not given a playoffs-or-bust ultimatum in 2016, he notes that’s exactly what happens. Ryan points to the 2016 margin of defeat and several injuries as a reason the team will bounce back in 2017. The defensive-minded coach says the team, which went 7-9, lost several games by a touchdown or less last season and late in games.
"We just didn't finish," said Ryan. "Our record may have showed that we were mediocre but I thought the team was better than that. We had some substantial injuries. The only games that (receiver) Sammy Watkins played he had a broken foot in. Reggie Ragland might have been the best player we had on our entire football team and he gets hurt in training camp."
In terms of making excuses, this sounds like the same old song and dance from Ryan. Ryan also goes to bat for quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
"I love him," said Ryan of Taylor. "I think he's a winner. I think … if he has some healthy receivers, a healthy Sammy Watkins, some other guys who can play and give this guy a chance… I know he prepares. He has got what it takes to play quarterback in that league."
Ryan will start the season off with a bang, as he’ll be in the booth working alongside Beth Mowins to call the game between former Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn’s Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos on Monday, September 11.