Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Cowher offered up some prudent advice for Rex Ryan before Thursday night’s panic bowl between Rex’s old team and his current one, the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills.
Cowher, the long-time Pittsburgh Steelers head coach who reached the promised land by winning Super Bowl XL, essentially told the often braggadocious Ryan to embrace the process of making his team better instead of offering up the latest empty promise to a constituency that is tiring of his act.
The Bills fell to 0-2 on the young season after an ugly 37-31 home loss that really wasn’t that close. New York piled up nearly 500 yards of total offense and nearly had three 100-yard receivers on the night, Eric Decker (126), Brandon Marshall (101) and Quincy Enunwa (92), as well as a 100-yard rusher with three touchdowns in Matt Forte.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, finally solved Ryan and the Bills, throwing for 374 yards and gaining a bit of revenge from his Week 17 implosion in Buffalo last season that cost the Jets a playoff spot.
If it weren’t for a few breakdowns by the New York’s defense, the final score would have been much uglier for Ryan, whose long history of overpromising and under-delivering began in North Jersey with the Jets before reaching Western New York last season.
That was unveiled for all to see during a team-produced documentary called “Rex and Rob Reunited,” which first aired in the Buffalo-area last weekend.
“Everything’s questioned,” Ryan told his players in the documentary while discussing last year’s disappointing 8-8 finish. “I forgot to how to (expletive) coach. ‘The players don’t respond to Rex, he don’t know what the (expletive) he’s doing anymore.”
And then Rex morphed into the unrealistic version who always seems to be writing checks that his coaching acumen can’t cash.
“That’s where I’m at,” Ryan said. “It ain’t about being No. 1 in defense, No. 1 in offense, whatever. No, it’s about us in this room, holding this damn trophy saying we won the whole (expletive). “That’s where I’m at. Don’t be afraid of it. I don’t give a (expletive) who knows it. Here we are. Here the (expletive) we are. That’s who the (expletive) I am.”
Yet, here we were at the onset of Week 2, and everything is status quo in the AFC East. The Patriots went on the road and beat, perhaps, the most talented team in the NFC without Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder and Rob Ninkovich, while everyone else in the division found a way to lose.
That meant that the Bills and Jets were both fighting to avoid the 0-2 hole on “Thursday Night Football,” and the stark realization that, in the current playoff format, the numbers say you have 12 percent chance of making the postseason with that kind of start.
Needless to say, those are not good odds.
And even the playoffs. by the way, aren’t that “damn trophy.”
Instead of the common-sense route and embracing that process Cowher spoke of, however, Ryan continues to place the bar unnecessarily high, especially for a franchise that hasn’t reached the postseason since 1999.
“I’m going to tell you we’re the (expletive) best because I believe it. Let me (expletive) say it,” Ryan boasted. “And if it doesn’t work, I’ll be the first (expletive) that goes. And everyone one of you, I (expletive) know you’ve got my back. All I want is every (expletive) thing you got. I’ll take every (expletive) bullet known to man.”
How about the bullet to the back of the head of your coaching career?
One group of fans on Thursday exemplified just how easy Ryan’s path could have been in Buffalo.
Finishing 9-7 and being the final wild-card team would be an unqualified success for the Bills.
And maybe the next coach will figure that out.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.