The 2015 Bills went 8-8 in Rex Ryan’s first season, which prompted this frank admission from Bills great and Hall of Famer Jim Kelly: Ryan would likely get fired if Buffalo missed the playoffs in Year 2.
Ryan lasted 15 games before he was dismissed. A week later, the season was officially over and the Bills managed just seven wins. As it stands, Buffalo hasn’t been to the postseason since 1999 and if you’re to believe USA Today, that won’t change anytime soon. Its staff is predicting the Bills to go 4-12 in 2017 under first-year coach Sean McDermott. Ryan doesn’t see that happening.
“There’s no way in hell,” Ryan said, via the Buffalo News‘ Alan Pergament. “That’s a coach’s dream, to have that kind of prediction because there is no pressure on you but I think that is total bull. If that is the case, why was I fired when I was fired if that’s how bad this team was? So I don’t get that. To saddle them with four wins, I totally disagree with that.”
In fact, Ryan remains hopeful that the organization will soon be playing January football despite the 17-year drought.
“I feel the Bills will surprise a ton of people,” Ryan continued. “They are kind of trying to float this under the radar stuff, which I get. That’s probably the way to go, that’s the way everybody goes. Undersell and overproduce. I get it. I believe they will have a lot better year than the experts. Could they be a playoff team? They might very well be.”
The last time the Bills played in the postseason Wade Phillips was the coach and Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson were the quarterbacks. Tyrod Taylor, who arrived in Buffalo shortly after Ryan, is entering his third year under center. And while Taylor has his skeptics, Ryan isn’t one of them.
“I love him,” Ryan said. “I think he’s a winner. I think . . . if he has some healthy receivers, a healthy Sammy Watkins, some other guys who can play and give this guy a chance … I know he prepares. He has got what it takes to play quarterback in that league.”
From the perspective of late July, the Bills will have trouble making the playoffs. A lot can change in the coming months, of course, but the Patriots, as always, are expected to win the AFC East. And the Dolphins are the early favorites to be much improved over last season when they earned a wild-card spot. That leaves the Bills battling the second-best teams in the other three divisions for the final wild-card berth.
Meanwhile, Ryan remains out of coaching but he will serve as an analyst for ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” this season.