Around the NFL, minicamps are finished, and players and coaches get a few weeks of reprieve before training camps begin in late July. The rest of the league should probably just give up on this season, though. Rex Ryan, who is completely unbiased and an entirely reliable source on the matter, has declared his Buffalo Bills the winners of the 2016 offseason.
"I'm excited about this team," Ryan said Thursday, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. "Obviously a lot of things have to happen, and we're a month or so away, but I told our players today to 'win July.' We won the offseason. I would challenge any team. I think we've won the offseason."
The Bills actually had a bit of a rocky offseason. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins has a broken foot that may keep him out of training camp and preseason. Buffalo's first-round draft pick, defensive end Shaq Lawson, had shoulder surgery that may cause him to miss time as well.
As he elaborated, Ryan also demonstrated a thorough understanding of how meaningless a June proclamation like this actually is.
"And that's one I shouldn't say because they're going to kill me anyway, but we're on vacation," Ryan said. "Nobody is going to read it anyway."
Ryan is already winning vacation, at least.
A bicycle built for two Ryan brothers pic.twitter.com/abHUPndkgA— Jonah Bronstein (@lebronstein) June 17, 2016
Nothing like spending a little quality time with your family.
The Buccaneers are getting "less terrible" on defense
Only six teams allowed more points than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015, so adding defensive end Robert Ayers to the mix was one of the ways the team elected to improve the unit. In his first few months, Ayers says he's already seeing the team making progress.
"We're a little less terrible," Ayers told reporters, via Jeff Darlington of NFL Network.
Whew ... now that's a ringing endorsement. But before you point and laugh at the Buccaneers, there's a little context that makes the quote from Ayers make a little more sense.
"Right now, we're terrible," Ayers said in April, after the first day of a voluntary mini-camp. "That's expected at this time of the year. Nobody knows anything. But the thing is, it's expected and you've got guys that are willing to learn. If the staff told you that they wanted to come out here and get 100 percent right, or 90, or even 80 percent of things right, they'd be lying to you."
In addition to Ayers, the Buccaneers added cornerback Brent Grimes and linebacker Daryl Smith before drafting Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence in the first two rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft. That's a lot of change for the defense and, like Ayers said, it's going to take a little while for the unit to gel.
For now, the goal for the Buccaneers is to take the defense from 'less terrible' to 'not so terrible.' Eventually, they hope to get from 'terrible' to 'good,' and then maybe "best defense ever," as linebacker Lavonte David said.
Dancing is fun until you're getting danced on
Cam Newton's MVP campaign in 2015 featured plenty of gaudy stats, but he also led the NFL in dancing and fun. And he brought the Carolina Panthers along for the ride.
But the dancing made a lot of people mad along the way. Everyone from opposing players to pearl-clutching mothers had something to say about Newton's dancing. The Panthers backed their quarterback and leader every step of the way, but when he danced on the Carolina defense in practice ... well, it wasn't quite so funny anymore.
Newton is a fan of winning and doesn't take losing lightly; however, he's a goofy and spirited player who likes to have fun along the way. He even grabbed Kelvin Benjamin's jersey so he could try to sneak in and get some reps at receiver.
A message to all 32 NFL defenses: Cam is going to dance if he scores on you and that's just something you're going to have to deal with.
Kirk Cousins still has terrible taste in music.
Myles Jack learned an important lesson about the Florida heat.
Myles Jack's first Florida lesson? He started practice in arm sleeves. Then, in 92-degree heat, a revelation: "I'm a sleeveless guy now."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) June 14, 2016
The Tennessee Titans' offensive line really wanted to get out of practice.
Who would have thought that Los Angeles could be more fun than St. Louis?
"Nothing against St. Louis but it's easy to get guys to stay here [in the offseason]," #Rams QB Case Keenum says.— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) June 16, 2016
New York Jets coach Todd Bowles got a head start on his vacation by taking a vow of silence.
"With all due respect, I'm done talking about Fitz." -- Todd Bowles #jets— Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) June 16, 2016
Maybe the Jets will figure out what to do with their messy contract situation after they get back from vacation.