Yesterday, literally minutes before the Bills kicked off to the Steelers, numerous reports surfaced revealing that Ryan could be fired as early as Monday depending on the game’s final result. Obviously that didn’t happen, because right on schedule at 4:40 p.m. Ryan was at the lectern for his usual Monday presser. Except instead of fielding questions about game tape and the Bills upcoming contest with the Cleveland Browns, Ryan spent the better part of 20 minutes answering questions about the future.
“I really don’t know what to feel,” Ryan said of being on the hot seat. “I’ve been in this game a long time and I know one thing: to do the very best job that I can do, I have to focus on what’s right in front of me, and that’s the Cleveland Browns. I promise you, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, so I’m not going to think one minute about something that may or may not happen.”
Try as he may to downplay the situation, deep down it bothers him. That was abundantly obvious after Sunday’s loss when he was asked whether or not he believes he’s still worthy of coaching the team.
“What do you think I’m gonna say? You’re dang right I do, he snapped. “I mean I’m giving everything I have, that’s just the way it is, it hasn’t gone exactly the way I wanted it to go, I mean that’s obvious. But we’ve got three games left and we’ll try to win every one of them.”
At the very least it’s obvious he cares. Too bad the effort of his team hasn’t reflected it.
Another rumor told of a rift that had formed between Ryan and GM Doug Whaley over who should be starting at quarterback, especially with $27.5 million in guaranteed money tied to Taylor if he were to suffer a serious injury in these final three week. In his postgame press conference Ryan’s terse response of “we’ll see” and the eye roll that followed in regards to the 27-year-old retaining his job for the rest of the season, hinted at such a conflict. Maybe he was just annoyed by another question incriminating his quarterback, or perhaps he knew after that loss that the Bills brass was going to make the decision for him.
Not yet anyway, as Ryan explained Monday that he still gets the final say on who plays in games and shot down the suggestion that Whaley had provided input in regards to the QB position. Still, his use of the phrase “in my opinion” is interesting.
“Tyrod Taylor,” Ryan replied without hesitation when asked who will be the Bills starting quarterback in Week 15. “The reason he’s our starting quarterback is, in my opinion, he gives us the best opportunity to win and that’s what we signed up for. We’re trying to win these games and that’s my opinion.”
“In my opinion,” as if he’s validating his decision to start Taylor to someone else. Again, perhaps it’s simply directed at the media, who have been very critical of Taylor’s play through 13 games this season. But it’s a curious comment nonetheless. As was the defeatist tone in his voice.
For now, with an atom sized chance of making the playoffs, Ryan and Taylor have delayed their doomsday for at least another week. Nothing is changing for now, but the outside noise is too deafening to ignore.
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