Transcript: Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan press conference
Scott Berchtold: Good afternoon everyone. I appreciate everyone coming out on a nice, warm, balmy day in Buffalo. Following a few brief comments that we’re going to have from a couple of our speakers here today, we’ll have a Q&A session. We’ll do this as we normally do it, which is, please raise your hand, acknowledge who you are and your affiliation, and we will have microphones in the crowd here to get to you so we can answer your questions as best as we can. The other thing that we want to do afterwards, after the photo sessions, or excuse me, after the Q&A, is to have a photo session. So, just know that we’re going to do a couple of things up here, give us a chance to get the tables away, TV you’ll have a chance to shoot the guys up here, and then we’re going to do a quick one over here for the still photographers. Alright, any questions at this point as far as logistics from media? So with that, it is my great pleasure to turn this over to Terry Pegula.
Terry Pegula: Thank you. After an extensive search, conducted by myself, Kim (Pegula), Russ (Brandon), and Doug Whaley, the Buffalo Bills have hired a new head coach and that coach is Rex Ryan. I almost said Sabres (Laughs). Rex began his coaching career in 1987. We all know, you can look on your computers these days and look up coaching careers, but, he went to the Baltimore Ravens at age 37, worked under Brian Billick, won a Super Bowl ring there as a defensive line coach. In 2005, he was promoted to defensive coordinator. 2008, he was defensive coordinator and assistant coach under John Harbaugh, and the Jets hired him 2009 and you know he’s been there for six years. I think one of the amazing statistics of his tenure at the Jets is, that, during his tenure they allowed the second least yards per game in the league. We went into this process very open-minded, the four of us. There was a lot of arguing, a lot of debating, which is always healthy. It is not a sign of dysfunction. We did not know what kind of, or who our coach was going to be. Is it going to be a young new mind? Is it going to be a veteran coach? But, as the process, and maybe should I use Canadian for our hockey (fans), the process. As it continued, we decided that where our team is right now, we were basically the only team looking for a head coach who did not fire their head coach the year before. So we decided that, after talking, that maybe we should go the veteran route, and because of where our team is. And, most of the candidates that came in, if not all, said, they praised our defense, you got some work on offense, and we understood that. Rex Ryan coached teams have two characteristics: they’re always great defensively, and they always work hard. Rex instills that in his players. When I was out with Rex the other night, I said to him, “How many Super Bowl rings does your family have?” He said, “We have five. My dad has two, my bro has two, and I have one.” And then he said, “I gotta fix that.” So our goal as an organization, is to build a team that, we were talking the other night, some of the new coaches on the staff, we were at my office in Florida. And, basically, we decided that, we want the Buffalo Bills to be a nightmare to play against. So, that’s our objective. With the staff that Rex is building, and with his knowledge of the game, we’re going to be a tough team defensively, and, I know that Greg Roman used that word, nightmare, and I love it. So, I’m going to introduce Rex now. And I can tell you one thing, he’s an avid hockey fan, and believe it or not, the guy was a goaltender. So, Rex, come on up.
Rex Ryan: Is this thing on? Because it’s getting ready to be on. And, that’s the truth. I want to thank Terry and Kim, and Russ, and Doug for selecting me. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. This is an unbelievable opportunity for me. And the reason for it, that I feel so blessed and honored to be the head coach of Bills, it all started with, you mentioned, I played hockey and all that. I actually lived in Toronto for eight years, and we used to get the Bills games. And, so, I followed the Buffalo Bills and I understand the history of the AFL, and the history of this franchise. I see Billy Shaw up here, “lookie lookie, here comes Cookie,” all those type of things. (Jack) Kemp, the Electric Company, all of them. I can go over every guy that played. And, so, I understand it. The thing I remember most was coming in when my dad was coaching with the Jets, and I was able to get to all the Buffalo Bill games when they would play, and how passionate those fans were, and it was just amazing. And you always felt that, regardless of what the weather was like, or anything else, it was packed and those fans were so passionate about their team, and that’s another huge reason I am proud to be given this opportunity. I’m not going to let our fans down. I am not going to do that. I know it’s been 15 years since the Bills made the playoffs. Well get ready, man, we’re going. We are going. And the guarantee, hey, am I guaranteeing a Super Bowl and all that? I’ll tell you what I will do; I will guarantee the pursuit of it. There is no question about that. Through work, through hard work, through preparation, and all that, we’re going to see how many teams match our work ethic, and all that. Because, as we look at it, we represent our community. The Buffalo Bills represent this community of Buffalo. We’re going to be tough. We’re going to be as loyal to our fans as they are to us. We are going to earn that loyalty and that trust, and one thing you’re going to see, come September, this team will be ready, period. And that’s it. That’s going to be my statement, that’s going to be my guarantee. Are we going to play a physical brand of football? Absolutely. We mentioned Cookie Gilchrist, well, all I know is that it might be, “lookie, lookie, here comes a Buffalo behind you.” I don’t know who the back’s going to be, but it’s getting ready. Are we going to do ground and pound? Yeah. You’re darn right we are. Are we going to throw it? Yeah, we got Sammy Watkins outside, why wouldn’t we throw it? This team, we know how loaded we are with talent. There’s no question about it. You mentioned how well we played on defense last year. Fourth in the league is probably a little disappointing, to be honest with you, because that’s not where my expectations are. I know we’ll lead the league in defense. That’s just the way it goes. But, to get started here, all that, we mentioned, when Terry and I were talking, I saw that process, of, I wanted to be, I had one more shot to be a head coach and I have to get it done. And I understand I won’t have another opportunity, and don’t want another opportunity. This is the shot that I want. But, I wanted to make sure that everybody was the same vision; that I could feel it, I can sense it, and, with Russ, Doug, Terry and Kim, that’s what I felt. I know the passion, it’s not just my passion, it’s everybody’s passion. We want to bring a championship to Buffalo. There is no doubt, and I felt it. And I felt there was one direction, and one vision for the team. As Terry likes to say, “we have one ego.” And I go, “yes sir, that’s exactly right.” When he hired me that ego got a little bigger…
…but it’s the truth. Alright, it’s the truth. We can put it up there…put everything you want to our opponents. Put everything you want on your bulletin board. That’s fine. “The Bills Say They’re a Physical Football Team,” “The Bills Say They’re Going to Out-Prepare You,” “We’re Going to Out-Work You,” and all that stuff. Go ahead and put it up there. I don’t care where you’re at. Put it up there because we’re not afraid of you. Alright? That’s what we think we’re going to do. My message to our team is to get ready. Start preparing now. Start preparing that we’re going to be playing games in January and so forth. Start preparing that way and something about’s going to…that I think is characteristic of our football team: we’re going to build a bully and we’re going to see if you’re going to play us for sixty minutes because we’re going to give everything we have every snap out there and again, that represents not just ourselves and it represents our community and we’re proud to represent Buffalo and I’m going to earn the same type of and we’re going to earn it…earn that respect that our fans give. It’s the most loyal fan base in the National Football League and we recognize that and with that being said, this fan base, the loyalty that they show that this football team deserves a loyal coach. Ok? And deserves loyal players. That’s what we’re going to bring and we will bring it. Nobody’s more loyal than me as a football coach and I can tell you that. With that I guess we’ll just open it up for questions, but it is funny how you come back in here. I like moving around and all that stuff and I feel like I have to stand around here but as you guys get to know me and things, I’m going to have fun with these. I’m going to enjoy it. I don’t take myself too seriously, but what I do take seriously is the product that you’re going to see on the field and we can’t wait to show it off in September.
SB: Ok. We’ve got the microphones out here. Got them right here? Ok. John, you’ve got the first one.
John Wawrow with the Associated Press: Welcome Rex. How do you draw upon the six years that you just completed with the Jets and how do you believe that can make you a better coach entering this new challenge?
Rex Ryan: Alright, well John that’s a great question. First off, mentioning the Jets, one thing I have to say is how much I appreciate the players. Through their efforts, I’m sitting here today. The thing that you take away obviously, I’m a different man right now than I was six years ago because I lacked experience as a head coach. There’s so much that you can gain the second time around. Number one, I think the principles in your philosophies…I know what wins in this league and do I have to get better in certain areas? There’s no question about it. The fact that, do we need to do a better job…do I need to do a better job in building a quarterback and all that stuff? Sure. Certainly but you learn from different things. You have to protect things. We can’t lose games because of the position. We have to take care of the football. We’re going to run the football, but we also have to be able to throw the football and doing things that a fundamental thing that I’ve always believed in is doing what your players do best. Recognize maybe some limitations that your players have but focus on the strengths of those players before you focus on the weaknesses and I think whether it’s offense or defense or special teams, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
Question: Tell me about the quarterback situation in Buffalo. As you were going through the interview process, you know this is a great defense but how concerned were you coming here with the quarterback that they currently have and it’s similarity to what you had in New York.
Rex Ryan: Well, I’m not concerned at all. Right now, we’re obviously in an evaluating process right now in particular about the quarterback position and other positions as well so we’re just getting on the job. I can’t tell you who that quarterback’s going to be right now but when you surround people with a…surround a quarterback with outstanding players, it’s not just about one man. It’s about every man. Not just one man and I think that’s where our focus is going to be. Do we want to develop a quarterback, not just a franchise quarterback? Of course but we’ll take steps. I think the first step that we took as an organization is to bring Greg Roman in to be our offensive coordinator. Never seen a guy get criticized more than Greg Roman for going to three championship games. He’s an outstanding coach. We have the exact same philosophy. We’re locked in line and as an organization, how we’re going to go about doing things. Whether that answers your question or not, I’m not real sure.
Question: I want to direct this question though to Terry. A big splash with this hire and a lot of what has been reported in terms of it being a record deal for the Bills to make. From that, a lot of people have concluded that maybe the structure of the Bills’ hierarchy will change accordingly. Can you give us a sense of how this is going to work now: The reporting situation with the four of you there.
Terry Pegula: Rex, Russ, and Doug will report to Kim and myself and that’s the way we’re going to have it moving forward. I believe in everyone…I think I’ve said this in the past: my style of business is that no one should be afraid to say anything so we will welcome input from anybody; the coach, the GM, the President, myself, Kim and that’s how we’re going to move forward. You should never be afraid to say anything. I don’t care if it’s sports or other business.
Russ Brandon: One of things, Vic, on that just so we can answer your question so we can put this to bed also: when it comes to the fifty-three and player personnel, that’s under the purview of Doug Whaley, the game-day roster and the coaching staff is obviously Coach Ryan and I will have business ops and administration ops and football administration budgets, but as Terry said earlier and as Coach said, it’s not only one direction, it’s one mindset and we’ll be in lock-step in everything that we do as an organization.
Terry Pegula: And I might add that like I said when we went through this process, we went into it open-minded. We interviewed some bright, young coaches and some veteran coaches and Doug and Russ obviously had been through this before a few years ago. Like I said, when we meet the right guy, you’ll know it. When we finally talked to Rex and looked at that staff that he put together, I really don’t think that the Buffalo Bills at 9-7, and I really believe two plays away from possibly being 11-5, needed to have a young coach standing in their locker room. I thought we needed to go to somebody who’d done it before and if you look at the record of almost every coach like Rex just mentioned it, new coaches fail generally in their first job and I’m not saying that all the new coaches that are going to get hired are going to fail, but it’s more happening in that direction than it is for them to be successful…and Greg Roman by the way, Rex said it: just look at his resume.
Question: There’s a report this week that the Falcons job and the 49ers job were sort of higher on your list than this job. Why was that and why are the Bills the best fit for you?
Rex Ryan: No, that’s definitely false. Did I interview with the Falcons? Did I interview with the 49ers? Absolutely. I think when you’re going through it from my position, you’re sitting back. You want to coach. There are plenty of opportunities and things, but I think after I came here the first time…and you say, “What were your expectations and things like that?” I went in and quite honestly, I was expecting great things especially from the Pegulas. I had a great deal of admiration for the fact that they kept this franchise here. A lot of different things that they’re associated with and when I came in, I was kind of blown away by the direction in many things about this and I came back and I told my wife. I said, “Wow. This is really something.” My only concern was that they feel as good about me as I felt about them and so at the same time, you’re trying to find a job, you’re trying to find employment and so there were many other great opportunities out there but this was the place where I wanted to be and I was just thankful that they felt the same way.
Question: Rex, the Patriots have dominated your division for the last six years. When you were considering your options, was there any pause for concern or hesitation in being in the same division still as Brady and Belichick?
Rex Ryan: Well you guys know how I feel. Number one, there’s no hesitation in this. We’re not afraid of anybody and certainly not afraid of them. We respect them. Understand that I recognize the fact that they have won our division the last six years. I think maybe the last, maybe 10 of the last 11 years they have won our division. But, that doesn’t guarantee they’re going to win it next year. And it doesn’t mean that we can’t be the team on top. I think there is a lot of talent that we already have here, and I can’t wait for that either. That opportunity, again, to play them, they certainly know that I’ll look forward to those games. That’s for sure. Again, we’re here, we’re going into every game and we expect to win. Period. This team is going to expect to win regardless of who we play. If they want to bring back Russ Francis and John Hannah to play guard, we’ll play them too.
Question: You mentioned the defense and how you want to improve on their high rating and ranking. How much are you salivating to get your hands on that D, and what is it going to look like next year? How are you going to mold that unit?
Rex Ryan: Well first off, it starts with putting together a heck of a coaching staff. Obviously, Dennis Thurman has been my right hand man for a long time. We’ve been together I think for 12 years. We have coached together. Donnie Henderson is already on the staff. We worked together in Baltimore. One of the finest coaches I’ve ever been around. So I think that’s where it starts. Then you look at obviously the players that you have. You have three Pro Bowl players in the defensive line. You get a secondary that challenges. You get an outstanding group. The front seven is outstanding. So, do I expect to be outstanding on defense? Of course. There’s no question. We expect to be an outstanding football team. The one thing we’re going to care about, we don’t care about the numbers, and we know where they’re going to end up. There’s no doubt we know where we’re going to end up. We always end up there. But, it’s the wins. That’s what we’re looking for. Whatever it takes to win, whether we’re first or second by two yards, something like that, we expect to play great defense. But, we want to win and we don’t care what it looks like. We’re going to do whatever it takes offensively, defensively and on special teams to play complimentary football. So it’s not just going to fall on one unit. It’s going to fall on our entire football team. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is the wins and losses.
Question: Terry, a question for you. When Rex made reference during his introductory comments about this team deserving a loyal coach; can you take us through the last two weeks from the time you get word that Doug Marrone is leaving the team, probably a surprise to you, and now having to pretty much start from scratch to find a coach that you didn’t think you needed to look for, and then to end up with one of the larger-than-life coaches in the NFL?
Terry Pegula: I think that we were fortunate that Russ and Doug had experience. They sort of mobilized the team. I knew we needed a coach and it was well, ok what do we do next? Well, these guys started the process. We had some lists. Yes, I talked to Bill Polian. I talked to guys that I know in the league. It’s not only Bill. That got blown way out of proportion. So, we set the process with simple things like, there were guys that we had a window that we could talk to that had a bye week. So, we could talk to certain coaches there. We accomplished that. We put the schedule together and flew around the country. I guess all the stuff leaks out and you know where we were. Again, we started with no favorite. As we got done with it, Rex was one of the later guys that we talked to. But, all the way through it, it was a total four-man, four-person team that put it all together.
Question: What was your emotional or visceral reaction to having your coach tell you he didn’t want to come back?
Terry Pegula: Shocked. I believe Russ said, “I’m more than shocked.” But, I liked Doug Marrone when he was here. He was probably the guy I talked to more than anybody. He made that decision and he moved on.
Question: How much was a factor in the fact that staying in the AFC East where you are very familiar with the Bills roster, the Patriots and the Dolphins? Was that a factor in deciding to come to Buffalo?
Rex Ryan: It was really no factor at all. So, that wasn’t it. It was just an opportunity or my last shot as I look at it. It had to be right and I see this as a great opportunity. It wouldn’t have mattered if we were in the NFC, the AFC or whatever. Is it a little sweeter because we’re in the AFC East? Yes, probably so.
Question: How much, especially just buying the team, but how much of a learning process was this for you to have to go through the coaching process versus what you went through with the Sabres which was in-season? This was offseason. With some of the candidates, how long were the actual interviews? Minutes, hours, etc.?
Terry Pegula: I don’t think we had an interview less than two and a half hours. Most of them were probably four hours.
Question: Rex, is there any added chip on your shoulder when you’re fired to come back and kind of prove yourself? Is there any extra motivation because of that fact?
Rex Ryan: Yes, no doubt. I think you do the best job you can. I used to always tell my players to not listen to that little voice. The little voice tells you that that’s all you got. Yet, there is another voice that if you ask for a little bit more that you can get it. The Buffalo Bills are going to get a little bit more from me. There’s no question about that. Yes, it’s the first time that I’ve ever been fired. I’ve been fired as part of a staff that got fired. But, when it’s my name that leads that list, that heads that list, yes it is personal. There’s no question about it. It’s embarrassing. I see myself as a good football coach and I can’t wait.
Question: You said there are areas you need to improve with game management being one of them. I’ve talked to several people that watched all of your games at the Jets and said that was not your strength.
Rex Ryan: I think it is pretty funny because any time a coach leaves they talk about game management issues regardless of who the coach was or whatever. That can be debated and for you guys to give direct examples about. That is fine with me. But, I will be a better coach now. I think through experience, I don’t think there’s any doubt that you become more of an expert. You’ve probably been there and done that. If I can improve in that area, I certainly will. I’ll look to improve in all areas of my game. I don’t think it’s that. I always see that and kind of laugh at it. But, I understand the question.
Question: You talked a lot about the offense and building a quarterback. What are your specific thoughts on EJ Manuel and his prospects going forward?
Rex Ryan: Well we will see. I know EJ is somebody that we looked at when he came out. I think the entire league did. I feel like he has a lot of traits that you look for in a quarterback. He’s smart, he’s dedicated. I think he has movement skills. I’d like to see him use his legs more than he has. Sometimes, just like we mentioned through coaching and even playing quarterback, I think a little more experience the better you are going to be. The more comfortable you are going to be. He’ll certainly be given an opportunity here. That doesn’t mean we are set at the quarterback position. We talked about that it’s an evaluating process right now. We’ll do whatever is in the best interest of the Buffalo Bills.
Question: Can you define your approach in dealing with players? Many describe you as a player’s coach.
Rex Ryan: Well, thank you for the compliment. I feel that I am a player’s coach. The only thing that means is that I care about my players more than anything. It’s not that I let a guy get by with something; it’s just the opposite. I demand a lot from my players, but what I tell them is what I believe to be the truth. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I tell them what I believe to be the truth and I treat them with respect. I treat them like me. I they appreciate that. For some reason, it’s just an easy trait. It’s something that comes naturally to me. That’s the way I’ve always done it. When you want find out about me, I don’t have to list one or two players. I can just say, ‘Ask anybody I’ve every coached or coached with.’ I just try to treat people fairly and respectfully. By the way, while we’re here, I’d like to give a shout out. We’ve got a couple of Hall of Famers here – Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas. Thanks for coming. That really means a lot. I can’t wait to get another Buffalo Bill in the Hall of Fame and get the first special teams player in the history of the league in the Hall of Fame in Steve Tasker. I understand he’s here too. I really appreciate you guys coming.
Question: What’s your sense of this town after your first 24 hours in Buffalo and trip to the Big Tree with Jim Kelly?
Rex Ryan: The beer was cold. I know the outside was too, but I almost feel like a part of it already. I think that’s because of the way I grew up and the fact that I recognize this and understand this community. I just come right back in and it feels like I’ve been here. It’s funny when I talked with Jim on beer one and we’re sitting back and I ask Jim, I said, ‘Obviously, you guys were a very talented team with Thurman [Thomas], yourself – I mean that thing was loaded – and Bruce Smith and Darryl Talley and everyone else, but what made it click? Why were you so successful? His point was so obvious and it’s something I will work my tail end off and we all will on doing this. If we’re all in it together, we’ll win and that’s what they did. They were always together and that’s why they own. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to pull this team all together. When you play the Buffalo Bills, you’re going to know that you’re play a team, not just the 53 guys, but the coaches. The entire organization is going to be pulling that rope in the same direction. I look at my job going forward and that’s what it is.
Question: When the Bills fans look at your record with the Jets, why should they believe that they’re getting more than a mediocre coach?
Rex Ryan: Because I think that they realize that I’m not a mediocre coach. The record may say that, especially this year. You mentioned that we had two 8-8 and then a couple losing seasons or lousy seasons, but they understand the game a lot better than you give them credit for. I’m not a mediocre coach and anybody that thinks so, I would challenge them with that.
Question: Rex, what do you need with your relationship with the general manager? Doug, what do you need in your relationship with the head coach?
Doug Whaley: The only thing I need is for us to have one goal and that’s what we’ve been preaching and talking about between all of us. One goal. One direction. That’s what I need for us to get this team to where he’s talking about going, where we’ve talked about going and where the fans want it to go.
Rex Ryan: As far as I’m concerned, Doug hit right on the head that we’re all in it together. There’s no question. We can have free discussions and everything else, but if you drafting the players that you’ve been drafting and we’ll be just fine.
Question: Rex, did the fact that you were a lifetime Toronto Maple Leafs fan every come up during your interview with Terry?
Rex Ryan: We talked about it. It did not go over well, but I changed my alliance. As you guys know, I’m a chameleon when it comes to hockey; thus, the Devils, Rangers and all that type of stuff. I always support the local teams. I’m absolutely a huge Sabres fan. I did ask Kim, “Can I get a deal on Sabres season tickets?” And she said, “No.” As you know, I did grow up a huge hockey fan and things like that. If Bruce Gamble was still in the net for the Leafs, maybe I’d be a Leafs guy, but I’m a Sabre all the way right now.
Question: What made you decide that Rex was your guy?
Terry Pegula: The first round of the interviews were broad-type questions. When we called him back and got into the nitty gritty, Doug hit him with all this stuff that put me to sleep (Laughs). That’s when we knew that Rex could be our coach, if he wanted to be. We just felt that he was our guy and trust me, we had some pretty impressive people that we felt could the Bills coach, but we said, “Hey, let’s go after Rex.” Russ told me, “Don’t let him out of the building.”
Question: What went into the decision to get rid of Jim Schwartz?
Rex Ryan: Jim Schwartz did an outstanding job. There’s not question that he’s an outstanding coach. He wants to be a head coach again and I certainly understand that. That was it. I recognize that we’re kind of a little different, but quite honestly, I’ve been part of record-setting teams that base out of a 4-3 and I’ve been part of record-setting teams that base out of a 3-4. One thing you’ll find out about me is that it’s not ego-driven. We’re not going to definitely play a 3-4 or a 4-3, for that matter. We’re going to have in our arsenal the ability to do anything. As an opponent, you’ve got to prepare for everything because, if not, I’m going to find out what you’re not prepared for and I’ll attack you appropriately. That’s how we play defense. We play defense based on our personnel, not just the scheme. I don’t try to put a square peg in a round hole. I think I’ve been around enough to adjust based on the players that I have, the talents of the players that I have and it’ll be no different this year. It’s not just me. I’m blessed with an incredible group of coaches and I lean heavily on then. You mention Dennis Thurman. I think all through this process you’re seeing coaches get opportunities to be a head coach. Dennis Thurman will be at the top of the list in a very short time. It won’t just be talking about my defense or whatever. This has been Dennis Thurman’s defense, as well as mine, for years.
Question: How badly do you want your shot at the New York Jets?
Rex Ryan: I’ll be honest. It’s still the Patriots that I want the most.
Question: Are there any players on the defense that you’re especially eager to work with?
Rex Ryan: I’m eager to work with everybody — every defensive player, every offensive player, all of the special teams guys. That’s who I’m eager to work with. I can’t wait. My pride and joy is the offensive line. When you have those bullies up front, those are the guys that my heart and my pride are right there. I know that we’re going to build a line accordingly.
Question: What specifically are you going to do about the quarterback? Can you talk about the Brian Billick coaching tree?
Rex Ryan: About the quarterback situation, I can’t give you a definitive answer on it. We’re in the evaluative process right now, looking at possible free agents and different things like that. A lot of dynamics go into it, so I’m giving you a very honest answer because, right now, we don’t know. Nobody knows what the finished product is going to look like. I’m confident that we’ll have the talent to be successful at that position heading into September. As far as the Brian Billick coaching tree, I’m proud to be associated with Brian Billick. Brian put together an incredible. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Brian. I learned a lot from Brian. He, obviously, fell under the Bill Walsh tree. I’ve stolen practice organizational plans from him. All of that type of stuff. How Brian treated me as a coordinator and how he let me run with it. I think that’s something that I’ll do with Greg Roman, especially on the other side of the ball. I’ll give him the free reigns and be mindful of what we’re doing, but also afford him the same liberties that Brian afforded me as his coordinator.
Question: Do you think you lost your swagger? Will this move to Buffalo reenergize you?
Rex Ryan: I’ll definitely deny that I lost my swagger. I lost some victories along the way, but I’ve never lost my swagger or the confidence in myself and the people that I surround myself with. Does it feel great to be a Buffalo Bill? Absolutely.
Question: What was the attractiveness of the structure with Terry, Russ and Doug?
Rex Ryan: One of the things that was so appealing to me was these three men right here and Kim [Pegula]. I felt so comfortable and knew that I would be the guy to be a piece of that puzzle moving forward and that could bring those championships to Buffalo. I’m just glad that they came around and saw things the same way. I felt it. I felt it almost immediately when I came in. That has to work. I know it has to work. Not getting into the Jets deal or whatever, I have a lot of great friendships that I built over there, but I’m a Buffalo Bill all the way and I’m so proud of where we’re at, how we’re built, how we’re all together and I just look forward to getting it on. The best part about it was probably the players.
Question: A few years ago the Bills offense MVP was a punter. Will you be aggressive on offense?
Rex Ryan: We’re going to be aggressive. There’s no doubt. There’s no doubt that we’re going to be aggressive. I think that statement is going to be answered early with how aggressive we’re going to be. We will not build our offensive game plans around our punter. I can tell you that. We hope we don’t major in punting. You’ll see. I think when we get going and find out exactly who we have in the building. Obviously, there are some philosophy things that Greg Roman and I are just dead together with. I think running the football is important to us, especially when you come down to playing games and winning games in December and January, especially in the conditions that we’ll play in. We need to do that. It’s important. It’s sometimes hard to throw the ball in a blizzard. Jim Kelly could do it with that gift, that arm that he had, but sometimes you’ve got to be able to win when the snow flies and here in Buffalo, it flies quite a bit. That’s what it is. We will definitely be aggressive. One thing you’ll never be able to say about our team is that we weren’t aggressive. Will we go for it on fourth down? Will we do those types of things? Will we fake a punt when leading by three with three minutes left to go in the game on a fourth and 13? Yes. The answer is yes we will.
Question: What does 2015 look like? Is it a matter of getting to the playoffs? If not, how far away is it?
Rex Ryan: There’s a lot of work to do and we’re just scratching the surface right now. We’ve got the Senior Bowl coming up. Getting our staff together will be the first order of business. The Senior Bowl will probably be our second as your scouting and things like that. There’s a ton of work to do to say whether you’re a Super Bowl contender or not. If you mention the thing about getting into the playoffs and Super Bowl contended, I think that’s pretty much one in the same. I think the main thing is to get in the playoffs and then let’s see what happens. Certainly, that’s going to be what we’re trying to do and what we’re working to is to be one of those teams.
Question: What are your thoughts on pursuing Mark Sanchez?
Rex Ryan: Certainly, he’ll be a guy under consideration. We’ll explore every avenue. If we think there’s a free agent like Mark or somebody else out there that we think can help us, then we’ll absolutely explore it. We’ve briefly talked about some possibilities out there. We’ll definitely look into anybody that we think can help us.
Doug Whaley: We’re going to leave every option open at that position. We’re going to bring in competition and that’s one of the mainstays since we’ve been together. We want competition at every position because competition raises the level of play. When you raise the level of play, there’s going to be injuries so you know that guy behind him, the expectation won’t dip.
Question: Do you feel, in hiring Rex, that he lends a voice to this underdog community and this team that hasn’t been relevant for quite some time?
Terry Pegula: The guy on the end here came out of the Steelers organization. We know what they’re like. You’re getting a taste of what Rex is like. I think the community knows what Kim and I are like. Russ has been with the Bills, not in his present position, for the whole tenure. He loves Buffalo and he loves the area. This guy right here tells his realtor, “Where does the most snow fall in the area? I want to live there.” How Buffalo is that? We’re all joined at the hip now and we all feel a good vibe. I can tell you another thing. I’ll bring up Greg Roman’s name again. He’s an old rust belt guy. He went to John Carroll and he just wants to get back near home and beat people up. We interviewed him for the head coaching job, which was fortunate because Rex had him as his number one guy for OC. It was like, “Oh, this sounds good.” Greg was impressive. He used the term ‘matchup nightmare’, which I loved. Just look at his record. Some of his Stanford teams that Harbaugh coached and the Niners. They were hard to play against.
Rex Ryan: I don’t all those type of days or whatever. I know one thing. When Thurman and Jim Kelly were here, they weren’t getting pushed around and we’re not going to get pushed around. We’re not going to get pushed around. I can promise you that. We will not be pushed around. In fact, we’re going to be the bullies. That’s who we are. Like I said, there’s not better thing than a community with a bunch of tough-minded people. It’s easy. Build your football team the way that this community is built, with the same type of work ethic and all of that type of stuff. We absolutely are not going to be pushed around. We’re going to do a lot of pushing ourselves. I’ll promise you that. We will build a bully and that’s what we can’t wait to get started doing.