Mario Williams has been blunt about his distaste of certain aspects of the Buffalo Bills' defensive scheme under Rex Ryan in 2015, and after his most recent complaints were made through the media, some of his teammates have decided to reply in kind - and not always in agreement.
Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News rounded up quotes from center Eric Wood and safety Corey Graham from the Bills' locker room on Tuesday. Graham, in particular, channeled his inner Bill Belichick in imploring Buffalo's star pass rusher to do his job.
"Obviously, he's got his opinion on everything," Graham said. "You know, in this league, when things are not going your way, everybody's negative. I mean, that's just how it is. I'm used to it. I'm not going to sit here and say one person's right, one person's wrong. I mean, Rex is proven in this league. I mean, he's been doing this a long time. If there's one thing I can say about Rex, he's a smart guy. Very, very bright guy. He knows defenses, he knows what to do, what not to do. You've just got to find your place, you've got to find your place in the scheme.
"Defensive linemen, they want to rush. I mean, we're not going to sugarcoat it. He wants to rush the quarterback, so when you ask him to do something that he's not comfortable doing, it's tough for him. But as a professional, as a defensive guy, you have to just go out there, do your job, do what they ask you to do, and do it to the best of your ability. I mean, don't worry about things like that. We've got to win as a defense, as a team. We've got to do whatever it takes to win, and if it means dropping in coverage, you've got to do it sometimes."
That, folks, is about as blunt as two well-respected teammates on a losing team can be about one another, at least within the confines of typical NFL media discourse. This isn't quite "Bickering Bills" territory, but it's fascinating nonetheless.
Wood is clearly thinking along the same lines.
"No, definitely," Wood said. "To win in this league, you've got to be all in together on effort, scheme, everything. I don't think we were going into the last game based on postgame comments. I believe that continuity and being together is important."
Not everyone in the locker room is speaking up against Williams, at least when it comes to his specific criticisms of the defense's failings throughout the 2015 season. Williams complained about Buffalo's routine issues with making substitutions and having calls come in on time, and linebacker Preston Brown (via ESPN's Mike Rodak) agreed with that assessment on Tuesday.
"I don't know who that guy is [in the coaches' box], but we talk about it in the meetings," Brown said. "It's been an issue with the personnel coming in and out. I mean, you can see it on games: People are running in and out; we're changing plays here and there. So it's definitely been an issue."
"It's something that shouldn't happen," Brown said. "[Opposing offenses] run people in and off because they know we're having issues with that upstairs in the box. So people are going to keep doing it, running in and off. I mean, teams that usually are the slowest teams on the ball, they're hurrying up on us and trying to get plays because they know it's something that we've had issues with."
Who knew the last two meaningless weeks of another lost season could be so much fun?