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Predictably, Ryan high on Bills

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The playoffs were a realistic goal in the final month of the 2014 season for the Buffalo Bills just before two losses in three weeks kept the team home for the postseason for the 15th straight season.

Enter new head coach Rex Ryan, bombastic personality and former division foe, who made many predictions that fell short during his time with the New York Jets.

“I think we will,” Ryan said Wednesday night before a charity softball game at Yankee Stadium. “Yep, I think we will.”

The Bills were driven by the fourth-ranked defense in the league, went 9-7 and made a multitude of changes, from Ryan at the top and down the roster. The one question that remains for the Bills is the identity of the starting quarterback.

That’s a big variable in the AFC East, ruled by reigning Super Bowl champion New England.

“I can guarantee you one thing: Teams aren’t going to want to play us, I can tell you that much,” he said. “You’ll see. Hey, come watch practice and you’ll probably come away with the same feeling I have. We’re loaded on defense and we’re loaded at the skill positions. So we’ll see.”

Last year’s starting quarterback was Kyle Orton, but he retired and left the Bills to decide if former first-round pick EJ Manuel could be the man for the job after being passed over by Orton — signed out of retirement to the top of the depth chart — in 2014.

The Bills still aren’t certain what they have in Manuel, who is learning a new offense under coordinator Greg Roman and has ccompetition from two offseason additions. Matt Cassel was acquired via trade from the Minnesota Vikings. He missed the final three months of last season with a severe ankle injury.

Tyrod Taylor, a mobile four-year backup with the Baltimore Ravens, received some work with the first team in Organized Team Activities.

Ryan said “when it’s all said and done, we’ll be fine” at quarterback. He said the situation is not ideal, and there is not one quarterback well ahead of the competition at this stage in the offseason.

The addition of running back LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2013, and wide receiver Percy Harvin injects playmaking ability into the offense but Ryan has stressed this team will win with old-school football — defense first, running game often and just enough of a threat in the passing game to keep a team honest. That approach worked well enough to get the Jets to the AFC Championship on Ryan’s watch.

In his mind, in the first work of June, that can all add up to an elusive playoff ticket for the Bills.


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