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Rex Ryan on Buffalo Bills linebackers: "We're fortunate"

The last time the Buffalo Bills ran Rex Ryan's defense, they only used one three-down linebacker. Today, Ryan considers himself fortunate that his new team might have two - or more.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In between dodging questions about some of his former players, fielding more useless inquiries about the New England Patriots, doing more PR work on behalf of Richie Incognito, and a lengthy opening monologue about Buffalo Bisons spring training, Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan was actually able to talk about a little football at his 2015 NFL Combine press conference on Wednesday.

Specifically, Ryan was asked to discuss the role of the inside linebacker not only in his defense, but in the modern NFL. His replies were not particularly earth-shattering, but do lend some insight into the shape of the position heading into the 2015 season.

"I think a lot of times, it seems like most teams are going with one inside linebacker and dropping another defensive back down," Ryan said of the position. "But in an ideal world, you’d like to have two guys that can be every-down players there for you."

When with the Bills in 2013, Mike Pettine - who runs the closest approximation to Ryan's defense in the NFL - used Kiko Alonso on every down, but no other traditional (read: not outside) linebacker played more than 293 snaps. But the team also had four safeties play at least 613 snaps, with many of those filling in for that lack of a second reliable linebacker. That year, the Bills subscribed to the "most teams" philosophy.

Ryan recognizes, however, that with Alonso returning, with Preston Brown showing promise as a rookie, and with Nigel Bradham establishing himself as starting-caliber in 2014, the Bills may trend more toward the ideal end of the spectrum when it comes to fielding linebackers in 2015.

"Well, we’re fortunate. We have some guys, and we have a lot of depth at that position," Ryan said. "So I feel good about the guys that we have."