Rex Ryan can't help but say things that he knows are going to come back to bite him. It's who he is. It's what he does.
On Thursday, he told Bills reporters that his team had "won the offseason." He was given the opportunity to walk the comments back. He even alluded to how he'd catch some grief for them. Still, he doubled down.
"I told our players to win July," Ryan said, via Matt Fairburn of UpstateNewYork.com. "We've won the offseason. I will challenge any team. I think we won the offseason, but we need to win July."
In the draft, the Bills took Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, who is now dealing with the continued repercussions of a shoulder issue that was well-known before the selection process began. They also picked up Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland, Ohio State defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams, TCU wideout Kolby Listenbee and USC corner Kevon Seymour.
The Bills didn't have much in the way of cap space to make any impactful free-agent additions. They were able to re-sign guard Richie Incognito and tackle Cordy Glenn, but otherwise they made headlines in free-agency because of the players they watched depart for other clubs. The Patriots signed receiver Chris Hogan as a restricted free agent, and the Bills also saw defensive end Mario Williams, corner Leodis McKelvin and linebacker Nigel Bradham walk out the door.
Ryan was steadfast, however, in his belief that the Bills were the NFL's offseason winners. Not necessarily because of what they did with their personnel, but because of the spring practices they turned in.
"I do," Ryan said. "That's one I shouldn't say, because they're going to kill me, but we're on vacation, nobody's going to read it anyway. But I do [believe the Bills won the offseason] . . . I don't know about these other teams. I'm sure they've had some great camps, too. I've been really impressed with this group."
Ryan's taking an optimist's approach -- especially considering that his best receiver Sammy Watkins suffered an injury earlier this offseason, and that Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly suggested that Ryan will probably be fired if he doesn't make the playoffs this year.
"The weight room," Ryan said, listing reasons for why he believes his team has thrived thus far. "We do things where you get points for how you perform and all that. It wasn't even close from this season compared to last season.
"I thought we had a good offseason last year but not like this. It's so much different. We competed so well against each other and even in those types of little things, the challenges that we had. I just feel great about it. I look at where this team is now compared to this time last year, I said it was a zillion miles. It really is so much further along than we were. You see guys making strides. Almost individually you can see it, this guy is getting better. I guess it goes without saying you have a year under your belt and things, but wow it looks good to me.
"I'll challenge other teams, too. I've been on a lot of teams. I've been blown away by this group. I really have."
In June. Only time will tell if he'll feel the same way in December and January.