The Buffalo Bills are 3-3, all the losses coming at Bishop Sankey Elite Jerseyhome and not in particularly competitive fashion. The vaunted and well-compensated defense hasn't been very vaunted. That group's two highest-paid players are complaining about scheme and begging to get turned loose to rush the passer. The team is on pace to shatter the all-time NFL record for penalty yards.
Even the franchise's most iconic former star, quarterback Jim Kelly, has expressed bafflement at what is going on.
"We planned on it," Ryan joked on Wednesday. "[We knew] that we were going to go through these tough times. [We said,] 'So let's get away from everybody.' That's why half of you guys [media] weren't supposed to be here. That would have made it easier.
"No, we'll face the music," he continued. "We have no problem Austin Seferian-Jenkins Black Jerseyfacing the music. Hey, we're obviously disappointed. We're disappointing ourselves, we're disappointing our fans and all of that, but we're going to do what we can to right the ship."
Ryan isn't much for panic, isn't much for doubt, isn't much for trying to control everything. When Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus speak publicly about their concerns about the defensive scheme and how it isn't yielding enough sacks (just nine on the season), Ryan doesn't care.
Where most coaches would fume that anyone took anything out of the locker room, especially criticism of the head coach, Rex figures it's actually a sign of how much they care. If it means anything, he says, it's a positive.
Ryan's attitude is either hailed as a breath of fresh air, a bit of balance in a football world where too many coaches take themselves way too seriously, or it's cited as a guy who can always win the news conference but maybe not the game.
It should be seen as a bit of honesty, a bit of adult behavior. When you've lost three consecutive home games and a season that looked like it might be the end of a 15-year playoff drought is teetering, well, there should be questions about schemes.
It's not like Williams and Dareus and even Kelly are bringing something up that fans didn't already notice. Ryan acknowledged he probably stuck too long with a concept of trying to confuse Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton by dropping defensive linemen into coverage rather than pinning their ears back and rushing in Sunday's lopsided loss.
"I'm not perfect as a play-caller," Ryan noted. "And I know that surprises you guys."
So Rex goes with it. It worked well with the New York Jets (two consecutive AFC championship game appearances), at least until it didn't.
This is part of the deal when, like he loves to do, you talk a big game. You also have to hear about it when it comes up less than big.