PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Coach Rex Ryan was back to making predictions Wednesday, declaring that his Buffalo Bills defense will be better in 2016 despite key injuries to rookies Shaq Lawson (shoulder) and Reggie Ragland (knee), as well as Tuesday’s four-game suspension of star defensive tackle Marcell Dareus(Marcell Dareus Jersey).
“I see the big picture. I also see this defense is improving,” Ryan said. “I’ve said it from Day 1: we’re going to be better. We will definitely be better than we were last year, in my opinion. Regardless of those [injuries and suspension], this defense will be better.”
The Bills finished 19th in yards allowed last season, which was Ryan’s first year as Bills’ coach. The team had the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense in 2014 and Ryan predicted upon taking the job that his unit would be the NFL’s best in 2015.
Dareus was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The sixth-year defensive tackle and two-time Pro Bowler said Wednesday that he missed a drug test.
“I really don’t have much to say,” Dareus said. “Words really doesn’t mean anything now. It’s all action. That’s all I’m going to do. I’m going to come back and do the best I can. I just apologize to my team and my family. I embarrassed my kids, and who I am and who I’m working to be.”
The Bills rebuked Dareus, who was also suspended for the first game of last season following a marijuana arrest, in a statement Tuesday, saying he “put himself first” and let down the team.
“I’m frustrated and disappointed,” Ryan added Wednesday. “As is everybody in this organization. Every teammate from top to bottom. And I’m sure our fans are feeling the same way. We all know the sort of player Marcell is — and he’s a good person too — but he’s got to make better choices, better decisions, and understand that it affects the whole football team and not just himself.”
Dareus said he learned of the suspension following last Saturday’s preseason-opening loss to the Indianapolis Colts, while Ryan said he found out at “the same time [you reporters] learned.”
In addition to Dareus’ suspension, The Buffalo News reported Tuesday that outside linebacker Manny Lawson faces a possible one-game suspension for an unspecified domestic violence incident.
Lawson adamantly denied the report Wednesday, saying his girlfriend texted him about it Tuesday and that Lawson immediately contacted the NFL to inquire about the report. He said Wednesday that he that has yet to hear back from the league.
“I honestly do not know what is happening or where that came from, but we’re looking to get into the bottom of it,” Lawson said. “I wish I knew [where it came from]. I don’t know where and how or why that would come up about me, but we’re going to look into it.”
Ryan also was surprised about the report regarding Lawson.
“I never even heard about it [Tuesday]. I saw it in the [newspaper] today,” Ryan said. “I was like, ‘When did this happen?’ So I never even knew about it last night or whenever it came out. So I can tell you this: I don’t know anything about it.”