Bills C Wood backs Rex Ryan in relaying message to ownership
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Injured center Eric Wood has a message he'd like relayed to Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula in regards to whether they're considering making wholesale changes this offseason.
''This isn't hockey,'' Wood told The Associated Press, referring to the Pegulas who also own the NHL Buffalo Sabres, a team in the midst of a top-to-bottom overhaul that had them finish with the NHL's worst record in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.
''This isn't like hockey where you scrap your franchise for a guy that you know is coming like an Eichel or McDavid,'' Wood said, referring to Buffalo's Jack Eichel and Edmonton's Connor McDavid, the top two picks in the 2015 draft. ''This is football. You can get a No. 1 draft pick, and the best guy on the board is a tackle that year, and a tackle doesn't change your franchise.''
Wood, sidelined by a broken right leg, spoke while making his way up the tunnel on crutches following Buffalo's 33-13 win over the winless Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
One of the team's most respected leaders, Wood became the Bills latest player to voice his support for continuity at a time when questions are being raised over coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Tyrod Taylor's futures beyond this season.
''I'm a Rex guy. I like Rex a lot. I like him as a coach. I think he's a great leader,'' Wood said. ''I know it doesn't feel like it all the time, but we're so freaking close.''
It's unclear what the Pegulas have in store in completing their second full season of owning the Bills, and after they made a big splash by hiring Ryan to take over after Doug Marrone opted out of his contract following the 2014 season.
Buffalo (7-7) is in jeopardy of extending the NFL's longest playoff drought to 17 seasons. The Bills did remain mathematically in contention when Denver (8-6) lost to New England.
It just so happens the eighth-year player's comments came immediately after Buffalo beat the Browns (0-14), a team enduring the tell-tale struggles of being in the midst of a major overhaul.
LeSean McCoy had a season-best 153 yards rushing and broke the game open by scoring twice on consecutive drives spanning the third and fourth quarters.
Buffalo owned an overwhelming edge in net yard offense, 451-269, first downs, 29-16 and controlled the ball for just over 34 minutes. On defense, Buffalo sacked Robert Griffin III five times and allowed Cleveland to cross midfield just four times on 10 possessions.
The Bills backed up defensive tackle Marcell Dareus' guarantee that they would not be the first team to lose to the Browns, who are two losses away from joining in the 2008 Detroit Lions as the NFL's second team to go 0-16 in one season.
Dareus wasn't made available to the media because a team official said he was required to go to meet with Bills trainers.
Ryan acknowledged being anxious.
''You're nervous when you play an opponent like that because you definitely don't want to be the team that gets beat by them,'' Ryan said.
As for his future, Ryan dismissed continued speculation that he might be out after just two seasons.
''I don't know what my future holds. I just know I'm going to get this team ready to play on Saturday,'' Ryan said, referring to Buffalo's home finale against Miami (9-5). ''Nobody knows what my future is. A lot of you don't know what your future is, either, so to me, I just prepare the team to the best of my ability.''
Even Browns veteran left tackle Joe Thomas questioned why the Bills might consider firing Ryan.
''Sometimes people are a little too eager in my opinion to fire coaches or get rid of players when they really haven't even had an opportunity to put their plan in place,'' Thomas said. ''I think a coach needs four years, otherwise you shouldn't hire him.''
Thomas speaks from experience. He's now on his sixth head coach in Hue Jackson since the Browns selected him with the No. 3 pick in 2007 draft.
In Buffalo, Ryan is the Bills' seventh coach since their playoff drought began in 2000.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL