Following the double dose of bad news in Buffalo last week, coach Rex Ryan is back to playing defense.
The Bills learned on Monday that their first-round pick Shaq Lawson required shoulder surgery that could keep him out for much of his rookie season, and we found out that wide receiver Sammy Watkinssuffered a broken foot this offseason.
In comments to Don Banks of SI.com, Ryan said that Lawson's shoulder surgery doesn't change his long-term outlook.
"That's part of the deal with Shaq," Ryan said. "We drafted him for the long-haul success, not for one season. They say me and (general manager) Doug Whaley share the blame. You're damn right we do. We'll share the blame, that's fine."
The Bills' public handling of Lawson's injury risk is a big part of the problem here. After the draft, amid reports of Lawson's risky shoulder, Whaley told the press that the injury was "nothing that we're really worried about." Two weeks later, the team announced the pass rusher's shoulder surgery.
Watkins' case is one of growing concern to Bills fans. While he's only missed three games as a pro, Watkins has battled through a number of nagging injuries. Ryan insists Watkins is not injury prone.
"This isn't a china doll situation. The china doll deal is for someone else. All I know is when he's healthy, you can't cover (Watkins), it's as simple as that," Ryan said. "No cornerback in the league can cover him, and you can quote me on that, and I've got video proof of it. The best of the best can't cover him. Has he missed a little time? Yeah. Big deal. He and everyone else."
Ryan then compared Watkins to Odell Beckham, who missed a number of practices because of his hamstring issues as a rookie before exploding on the scene in New York when Rex was finishing out his run with the Jets.
"The Beckham kid came out the same year, and he missed how many games with a hamstring issue? Believe me, I was trying to trade for him when he had the hamstring. I was reading the papers, and I was like, 'Well, hell, we'll take him.' But Sammy's not even going to miss any time. He's going to be ready to roll when it matters," Ryan said.
Does anyone believe that Ryan genuinely tried to trade for Beckham when he was Jets coach? Not particularly, although it makes for another fun chapter in the Ryan-John Idzik wedding album. The story is an amusing yarn to spin after the fact, a distraction from the actual question of the health of Lawson and Watkins. It's what Rex does and it causes no harm. But the act is already starting to grow old in Buffalo, where too many coaches have failed to back up promise with a playoff appearance.