One of Rex Ryan's best defensive players has spoken -- and he uttered a familiar refrain about the former head coach and his scheme being too complicated for players to grasp.
"I feel like we should've been just more aggressive on defense ... because that's the kind of players that we have. We want to put our foot on the pedal and keep it down knowing what we're doing, and being strategic on what we're doing," Marcell Dareus told ESPN Tuesday afternoon. "Not trying to matchup with this team, or that team. We want to have our identity (knowing) this is who we are, and what we're going to do."
He added: "It was just too much detail for a lot of guys, and I feel like for a lot of guys it was too much going on for them to check here and check there, if this happens and that happens. Then nine times out of ten, a team will throw something out there that we weren't prepared for, and then the adjustment to it, we had to get use to and try to make it happen and make plays."
Dareus won't be the first or last player associated with Ryan's scheme to accuse him of being complicated. Ryan had his most success in 2009 and 2010 -- a time where he loaded up the defense with heady veterans who were already accustomed to the terminology. Linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard were brought in to pilot the scheme and translate its complexities. Veterans like former Raven Trevor Pryce and all-time great Jason Taylor followed suit. His best defensive players had a graduate degree in Rex-ology, or, in the case of someone like Darrelle Revis, they were asked to do something specific (like match up on the other team's best receiver and follow him everywhere).
Somewhere along the line, those complexities seemed to build and tangle. Some of the Bills' best pass rushers complained about dropping back into coverage in 2015 and this year, Dareus said an injury to safety Aaron Williams changed the communication dynamic.
"I feel like things changed when Aaron (Williams) got hurt ... communication just started to (fall) off, not just on the back end, but across the whole board for the defense," Dareus said. "Then, people started getting hurt, injuries started occurring. We started to bring people in and communication was just thrown off."
Ryan's head coaching tenure will be feverishly dissected in the coming years. It's hard to believe that an astoundingly good defense in 2009 and 2010 (the Jets made it to the AFC title game both years) dissolved into this unless you're someone like Dareus, who seemed to see it coming.