Rex Ryan responds to criticism of defensive schemes

Rex Ryan defended himself over criticism that his defensive schemes with the Buffalo Bills aren't working.

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Regardless of how people feel about Rex Ryan as an NFL head coach, most would argue that he is one of the best defensive minds in the game. However, the questions are starting to pile up as the Buffalo Bills struggle to stop teams from moving the ball and scoring.

The Bills have two players on their defensive line playing under $100 million contracts in Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus. Despite the level of talent, Buffalo has recorded only nine sacks in six games. Both players publicly complained about dropping into coverage after Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Hey, like [Williams] said, they pay us a lot of money,” Dareus said, via Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports. “And we want to use our talents the best way we know how. If we’re going to be dropping we don’t want to get questions about not getting sacks. That’s just how it is.

“It’s not been a lot of times where there have been all four of us, full tilt, ears pinned back and we’re going after it. We haven’t had a lot of that this year. Hopefully Rex is going to implement it. There’s nothing we can do.”

Bills legend Jim Kelly was also critical of Buffalo’s defensive approach thus far.

“Dropping Mario Williams into coverage a lot? Didn’t we pay him a lot of money to hit the quarterback?” Kelly asked. “And if I’m the opposing quarterback and I see him dropping into coverage, oh that’s a big plus. I’d definitely have a smile on my face.”

On Wednesday, Ryan acknowledged that his play-calling has not been perfect but said Williams has done a tremendous job of dropping into coverage. He also said he’d be “willing to bet anyone (who) wants to bet” that Buffalo’s defense is going to show vast improvement.

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“Obviously, when you look at it, and I get it, you get paid to rush the quarterback,” he said, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak. “Well, I try to get paid to win. What I try to do is I tried to get the guy out of rhythm initially and I think initially it was working pretty good but I think I lived in it too much and so I don’t necessarily disagree with Marcell and Mario’s views.

“We don’t have to lead the league in sacks. We just want to win. If we end up doing that, we’ll all be happy at the end of the day.”

The Bills have plenty of good players, but they don’t have the level of talent that Ryan’s New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens defenses had — particularly in the secondary. Not everything is an overnight fix, and Ryan and the Bills need to learn as they go.

As for players questioning Rex publicly, that’s the risk you run when you allow your team to talk trash nonstop and speak their minds. The smack talk giveth and taketh away.

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