Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas has a cover story on the Bills’ successful wooing of Rex Ryan, and it’s your standard new-coach-new-team love story—The Bills knew immediately they had found their guy! Ryan’s personality is going to turn this locker room around!—but the real gold is anytime Ryan discusses his former team.
To hear Rex tell it, he felt like a dead man walking with the Jets for the last two years, even since they fired GM Mike Tannenbaum, who had hired Ryan in 2009.
Despite having put on a good face, Ryan says he felt like a “leftover” under the new GM, half of an arranged marriage “who could be replaced at any time.”
“I wasn’t the boss anymore,” Ryan says. “I was just a guy. Whether they want to say it or not, all of a sudden I became less important to the team.”
“The minute I felt uncomfortable, I should have said something to Woody and made sure he knew exactly how I felt,” Rex says. “But when hires are made after you’re hired, I didn’t want to question that. How can I preach that I’m all on board if I do that?”
There’s a whole lot of that in here, Ryan bemoaning how he was treated his final couple of years in New York, and how he spent the entire 2014 season just waiting for the ax to fall. (“I knew I would need someplace to live, Ryan said of buying a house last summer. “That I was probably going to get fired.”) Dennis Thurman, the defensive coordinator who followed Ryan to Buffalo, says everyone knew it, even they players—and it affected their play.
But Ryan really gets going when asked about critical comments from one of his former players:
On April 6, Jets tight end Jace Amaro reflected on his rookie season and told Sirius XM NFL Radio that Ryan’s 2014 team lacked accountability. To which Ryan says, “He’s full of s—, and I’ll remind him of that when we play him. Look, we weren’t perfect, and I never said we were going to be perfect. But that’s a f—— b.s. comment. But, hey, he’s happy that he’s got a different coach in place. We’ll see how happy he is when I play against him.”
Rex is great, but we’re used to his grand offseason pronouncements by now (“I want to win the damn Super Bowl,” he declares; who doesn’t?), but Buffalo as a team still has some serious holes. At the very least, that Bills-Jets rivalry is going to be a real one.