Like most people that visit this site, I am a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan. Despite the team's struggles in the past, I remain loyal knowing that the playoff drought will eventually end, and that Bills fans will someday have reason to celebrate the success of our team once again. While I continue to be patient with this team, my patience with Rex Ryan has run out, and the start of the regular season cannot arrive soon enough.
There are plenty of times when I have been frustrated with a coach's actions on the field. Maybe a decision to punt on fourth down, a questionable substitution, or an odd play call would send fans into a frenzy on game day. But this is the first time I find myself getting increasingly frustrated with a coach's actions off the field. Yes, I do realize it is the offseason, and that we are just over three months away from the start of the regular-season. But I am at the point where the sideshow with Ryan has just become exhausting.
Like many, I was excited when the Bills named Ryan as the new head coach. One of the biggest personalities in the NFL, he could immediately infuse energy into a team and a fan base that had been lacking it for some time. The team was coming off a 9-7 season, with one of the best defenses in football. It was easy to be excited, and expect that the franchise that we love was becoming relevant both on and off the field. Now, as I take a look back, I wonder if the Bills made a mistake in hiring Ryan.
In his 18 months with the Bills, I have been able to brush off most of his antics. You are building a bully? I know what he meant. You want to go skydiving? Great - you only live once! Eat a dog biscuit? It is for a great cause! Talk about your defense being "fully pregnant"? Um, sure - whatever. Introduce a presidential candidate? That is your choice, and I am okay with that. I really have not had a problem with any of these "look at me" moments, since they have all been relatively harmless and seemed to have been done in a good-natured way.
The piece that pushed me to the edge happened last week: the interview with Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB. One interview at the end of May should not be that big of a deal, but I took particular exception with this piece on Rex and Rob Ryan for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, no one likes the guy with a big mouth. This is especially true in sports, and in many situations the guy spouting off has no reason whatsoever to be boasting. The article is filled with quotes from the Ryans talking about how fantastic they are. Rob was fired last season after coordinating a historically bad defense in New Orleans. As you will see in the article, none of this is really his fault. Rex took over a Top 5 defense that then finished in the bottom third of the league.
Were there bright spots? Of course. But with the compliments that the Ryans throw at one another, you would think they coached the top defenses in the NFL last season. I still do not understand how two coaches that essentially failed as they did last season can go on and on about how great they are. As they refer to themselves as "badasses," it makes me question what the definition of a badass is these days - or if the Ryans even know what that means.
Maybe expecting the Ryan brothers to be humble is like asking water not to be wet. I understand it; this is something that is not going to happen, and I can try my best to accept that. The piece of the interview that was the tipping point for me was the constant talk about Ryan's former teams. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, Trevor Pryce, Jim Leonhard, and the list goes on and on and on.
Excluding two draft picks, there is not one mention in the entire interview about a current Bill. Not one. The coach that loves to be the center of attention seems to have a hard time even giving mention to anyone on his current team. Of course, he did have no problem in mentioning Mario Williams, Nigel Bradham and Leodis McKelvin by name - and throwing Williams under the bus in the process. Rather than taking the opportunity to mention the guys that play for the Bills today, the head coach chose to call out the players that are no longer in Buffalo anymore.
Please, tell me the story for the thousandth time about how fantastic Baltimore used to be.
Winning the loyalty of Bills fans takes more than sporting a Thurman Thomas jersey at the Combine, or wrapping your truck with the Bills' logo. They are all nice gestures, but not enough, in my opinion. You can talk about the team being "all-in," but it takes more than a new lines of t-shirts and workout gear to create a mindset.
I have never heard a coach use the word "I" and "me" as much as Rex Ryan. I would love for him to start talking about the players standing behind him today, as opposed to those he coached in the Super Bowl over a decade ago. And finally, show how me how fantastic you are on game day instead of telling me how fantastic you are during interviews.