I don't get anyone who doesn't like Rex Ryan. He's tremendous for the NFL.
The problem that has developed over the years is that players and coaches get criticized for being interesting. Say something outside of the most white-bread quotes and it's a bad thing. So the NFL is full of robots. Why is that better for anyone? Isn't the game supposed to entertain us?
Ryan has never cared about the backlash against being himself, and thankfully his time with the New York Jets didn't change him. When he was introduced as the Buffalo Bills' new head coach on Wednesday, he was at his cocksure best.
"Put everything you want to our opponents, put everything want on your bulletin board, that's fine," Ryan said. "The Bills say they're a physical football team, the Bills say they're going to outprepare you, we'll outwork you and that stuff. Go ahead and put it up there. I don't care where you are. Because we're not afraid of it."
He's perfect for Buffalo, especially now. **>>MORE**
This is a good get for the Bills. It's probably an upgrade over Doug Marrone and at least you know Ryan is pretty well steeled against whatever insensitive media types reportedly bother the former Bills head coach, even if he does have to face the New York Post two times every season. Speaking of that, staying in the AFC East had to be a major selling point. Not only does Ryan get to keep those regular matchups with Belichick and Brady, games he relishes, he also gets to wave a middle finger at Woody Johnson twice a year, with a little help from Mario Williams and a loaded Bills defense. ...
15. Buffalo (9-7).Rex Ryan is the answer for excitement, for a rebirth after the Doug Marrone jilting, and for having a legitimate chance to occasionally beat the big, bad Patriots. (Week 17, with nothing on the line for New England, doesn't count.) And I like Greg Roman as an offensive coordinator.
... Besides, who's to say Buffalo isn't Ryan's ideal job anyway? Last time he had a young-but-flawed quarterback and a defense this good, he reached back-to-back AFC Championship Games. Ryan's recent woes in New York weren't because of quarterback issues—he'd always had those. The woes were because Ryan no longer had the personnel to run his defense. When Darrelle Revis vanished, so did the backbone of Ryan's scheme.
Fourth-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore can make a good backbone in Buffalo. He's not quite Revis (who is?), but he's lanky, strong, athletic and smart. Gilmore has played the right corner position for most of his career; he now must prepare to move around and follow opposing No. 1 receivers.
Or at least follow No. 1 receivers on the outside. Inside, the Bills have one of the league's best slot defenders, 22-year-old Nickell Robey, whose greatest attribute is his blitzing acumen. Aaron Williams and Da'Norris Searcy (assuming he re-signs) are versatile safeties—an overlooked but extremely critical piece in Ryan's system. Factor in a front seven that's as good as any Ryan had in New York—and better than any he had at rushing the passer—and you have a reinvigorated head coach.
And we know that Ryan's scheme can work with Buffalo's players because it did two years ago, when Ryan's understudy, Mike Pettine, coordinated this defense and it finished 10th in yards allowed.
What really makes the Ryan hire intriguing is that it comes with offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Two years ago Roman was on every head coaching short list. In Buffalo he'll have almost total autonomy. Roman is an innovative designer of power-oriented rushing attacks—an approach that jibes well with a defensive-minded head coach. **>>MORE**
Photos from Head Coach Rex Ryan's introductory press conference inside the ADPRO Sports Training Center.
It's early, but my immediate reaction to Rex Ryan getting the Buffalo Bills' coaching gig is that if he does a good job, he can immediately get this team to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, ending the longest current drought in the NFL and team history.
Before Doug Marrone chose to leave his post as Buffalo's coach on Dec. 31, I was mildly surprised he already hadn't been fired. He has struggled to get along with the front office, and the team had remained in playoff contention largely based on the strength of its defense. Marrone's supposed area of coaching strength, the offensive line, had become a disaster zone for the Bills. What once was a position of relative strength had become a weakness.
So what's required of Ryan? What are the tasks he and the front office should address now to make the playoff goal a reality?
Here are four things they must address: **>>MORE**
With Marrone opting out of his Buffalo contract on New Year's Eve and Jim Harbaugh off to Michigan, the number of appealing options for Buffalo in its coaching search were limited.
Ryan had to be atop the list. Not only does he know this division well -- his matchups against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been nothing short of tantalizing -- but he meshes well with the current Buffalo roster. It has been five years, however, since Ryan produced an above-.500 record, a dismal streak catalyzed by his inability to churn out a consistent offense.
The Bills team awaiting Ryan's arrival resembles his former Jets roster -- that is, the Jets' roster from 2009-'10, which Ryan took to those back-to-back conference championship games. There are far fewer trouble spots in Buffalo than there were, and still are, back in New York. >>MORE
Rex Ryan arrives in Buffalo and tours the ADPRO Sports Training Center for the first time as the 18th Head Coach in Bills history.
Rex Ryan and Buffalo seems perfect, right? It seems kind of perfect. Rex is an us-against-the-world guy, a defiant guy, a tough guy. He won't endure winter; he'll love winter. Unless New York fundamentally chastened him — and there were some humbling moments, sure, and they kind of piled up until it was probably hard to push open the ol' office door — Rex will bellow and make players love him and aim for Bill Belichick, no lower. Buffalo could use that.
But it feels a little too comfortable, too, which people usually don't say about the Bills job, which Ryan agreed to take Sunday, a source told The Associated Press. I mean, having a routine is OK. People find comfort in this world, and stick with it. Some people order the same meal from their favourite restaurant every time. Belichick squints unhappily, day and night. Jim Harbaugh buys one kind of pants. They're not even nice pants, but they seem to make him happy.
But, uh, Rex? The biggest difference here might be that Rex Ryan is actually going to coach a team that plays in New York, for once. His Jets defences finished first, third, fifth, eighth, 11th and sixth in yards allowed, even though Tom Brady and the Patriots figured them out, eventually.
Anyone who hates points should be salivating at the idea of Rex Ryan in Buffalo. I honestly feel sorry for whoever's playing quarterback for the Jets come September. You did nothing to deserve this.
We've seen what happens when Ryan is handed above-average talent on defense, and that's what he'll have with the Bills. Actually, change that to "way above average."
"You mentioned how well we played on defense last year," Ryan said during his press conference. "Fourth in the league is probably a little disappointing, to be honest with you, because that's not where my expectations are. I know we'll lead the league in defense. That's just the way it goes."
It can definitely go that way. During Ryan's time with the Jets, his finishes in defensive DVOA looked like this: first, fifth, second, ninth, 12th, and 21st in his final season. It's true that the heights of the Jets defenses during his tenure involved deploying a generational talent at the peak of his career. New York was able to do much of what it did on defense because Darrelle Revis played at an MVP-caliber level during two trips to the AFC Championship Game. But even without Revis, Ryan put together excellent units with talent that has occasionally been not so excellent. It's not a stretch to think that, outside of Revis, the group Ryan takes over in Buffalo is better than any he had with New York.
Questions about how the Bills will fit into Ryan's scheme are probably overstated. Buffalo finished second in defensive DVOA this season while playing a 4-3 under Jim Schwartz, but the Bills are also just a season removed from finishing fourth in Mike Pettine's hybrid alignments. Before Pettine took over as the defensive coordinator in Buffalo, he spent four years in the same position with — you guessed it — Ryan and the Jets. New York's defense was billed as a 3-4, but, like so many defenses these days, its fronts were constantly changing. **>>MORE**
And quite honestly, this is not an ideal situation for him.
Sure, he was probably salivating at the thought of going from one dominant defensive line to another and working with a Bills defense that ranked fourth in points and yards. That unit could be even better under Ryan's tutelage. And now, Bills fans could see a fusion of the 2013 and 2014 defensive schemes, which were coordinated (respectively) by Ryan's protégé Mike Pettine and former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. **>>MORE**
For 15 seasons, the head coach at One Bills Drive just hasn't belonged. Gregg Williams shut himself off from the city after getting drunk, having a fight with his wife, and falling in a pond. Mike Mularkey couldn't handle his "detractors" in the local media. Dick Jauron sounded star-struck when he would talk about New England, a contender for the most hated franchise in the history of Buffalo sports. The Doug Marrone saga speaks for itself.
They weren't Buffalonians. I don't mean that they weren't born here. They didn't understand how to handle the circus that is the NFL in a small market city that cares about little else for 4-5 months out of the year. They didn't have the ability, like everyone I know from that city does, to laugh at themselves while being unabashedly proud of the team and the city they represented. If it sounds like I'm placing too much importance on the "representing the city" angle. Consider this: if you live outside of Western New York, do you know who the mayor of Buffalo is? Do you know who Doug Marrone is?
The Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills doesn't need to go 11-5 (though it would be nice once per decade). They just have to care as much as we do. And for 15 years, I've watched coaches who coached not to lose. Coaches who let players leave the field with a minute to go. Coaches who punted away entire seasons.
Whether you love Rex Ryan or not, he isn't any of these things. He hates Bill Belichick as much as I do, and that feels really good. If we go 6-10 next season, but he buries a gameball in the ECC lots if they get blown out by New England, I'm at least having fun. I can tolerate losing. I've had a lot of practice. I can't stand losing the way Buffalo has lost: "meh" coaches with "meh" excuses for their "meh" decisions. Rex Ryan isn't the best coach in the league, but he unapologetically will try to be, and be anything but "meh" along the way.