The Buffalo Bills are officially eliminated from playoff contention, and they still have two games to go before the 2015 regular season comes to its conclusion. On Monday, Rex Ryan addressed the media after the team’s most recent loss to Washington.
As one could predict, the conversation was mostly on bigger picture matters, but still had featured some notes on the matters at hand as well. Five takeaways from Rex Ryan’s press conference:
1) Mario faking sick report is “made up”
- Ahead of the game, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported a Mario Williams related note that sparked some controversy:
Mario Williams missed team meeting this past week, per source. Williams told Bills he was sick, not everyone there believed it.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 20, 2015
Williams missed the first two days of practice last week due to an illness and was questionable for the game against Washington. The defensive end, who has been most recently attached to the idea that he will be released ahead of next season to save room on the salary cap, ended up playing on Sunday. One day later, Ryan was asked about Scheffer’s report, to which he fired back, calling it made up in a fictitious manner, and was adamant that no one in his building would do such a thing. Either way, Williams publicly isn’t happy with the scheme, he doesn’t appear to be adapting to it all that well, and is likely to be a cap casualty ahead of the 2016 season.
2) Rex blames the players, again
- The Bills were on the verge of being blown out in Washington, having trailed 21-0 at halftime, the Bills were clearly being outclassed by a team with the same record. For a team that needed three consecutive victories to have a shot at the playoffs, they laid an egg. On Monday, Rex Ryan explained it by saying it looked like his players lacked confidence, and that they weren’t “100-percent” on either the assignment, or scheme. This isn’t the first time Rex Ryan has put the blame on his players, as opposed to the scheme they were playing in. Back in October, when Mario Williams and others began to publicly question some of their responsibilities in the defense, both Rex and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said that it’s not about scheme, it’s about the execution of the scheme. His most recent comments on Monday certainly fall into that same category, which is rather concerning that the disconnect still exists in the throes of a potential push towards the postseason. The Bills coaches and players need to figure out where that disconnect stems from, and figure it out before the start of 2016.
3) “Feeling is mutual” between Rex & Whaley
- Another report ahead of the game centered around general manager Doug Whaley, and his future with the team after this season. Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reported on a rift between Whaley and some of the coaches about the usage of players — namely Sammy Watkins, and it called into question whether they would part ways with Whaley. Rex Ryan said it after the game, and reiterated on Monday, saying there is no truth to those reports. Ryan went on to say that he has a deep respect for Whaley, and that he believes the feeling to be mutual. Even if Ryan was trying to get his own type of GM in place, he doesn’t exactly have the clout to do so. The team, under his watch, has not performed the way many believe they are capable, and the Bills carried a better record at season’s end in 2014 with a less-talented roster. Injuries have played a part in all of it, and could be a saving grace for Whaley in 2015, if he is indeed on the hot seat.
4) Sammy Watkins sounds off, and the coach loves it
- After the game, Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins let loose to Matthew Fairburn of Syracuse.com on what the team is in need of. Among the notable elements of the conversation, Watkins said the Bills need “nasty coaches,” and that it needs to be a player-driven team that forgets people’s feelings and calls each other out. It’s a vocal message that screams of a young player that is developing into a leader in the locker room — and that’s how Rex Ryan interpreted it as well. The head coach said that he loves the fact that Watkins is taking accountability, and read all of the young wide receivers words. Such an important piece to the offense, and the team overall, Watkins’ message came from a good place and might just be one of those vocal leaders the Bills have been waiting for.
5) McCoy reportedly has torn MCL, Woods likely done, Clay/Bradham getting close
- The Bills lost LeSean McCoy at the beginning of the second half due to an injury, and they may have to play the rest of their season without their top running back. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that McCoy has a torn MCL and is considered week-to-week, calling into question what benefit the Bills would maintain by not shutting down McCoy in a year without the playoffs. The year is likely over for wide receiver Robert Woods, who suffered a “severe” groin injury this past week. If he is placed on Injured Reserve, the likeliest course of action is for the Bills to bring up practice squad receiver and former seventh-round pick Dezmin Lewis. On the positive side, tight end Charles Clay and linebacker Nigel Bradham are getting closer to a return according to the Bills. The trainers feel very good about Clay’s chances, while Bradham, who suffered a setback last week, has the Bills hopeful that he can make a return this week. The only other notable injury note is second-year linebacker Randell Johnson, who suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday during the first start of his career. While they haven’t ruled him out, there is some thought that his season could be over as well.
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