The Buffalo Bills fired head coach Rex Ryan Tuesday after the Bills lost 34-31 in overtime against the Miami Dolphins, eliminating the Bills from playoff contention. The decision comes during Ryan’s second season with the Bills, despite him still having three years left on his initial contract with the Bill’s.
With just a 15-16 record as the Bill’s head coach, Ryan’s boot was neither surprising nor unwarranted. This season, the Bill’s had the top rushing offense in the NFL but finished near the bottom in passing and 19th in defense. But how much of the blame belongs on Rex Ryan’s shoulders? All of it.
This is a head coach who hasn’t been to the playoffs since his 2010 season loss in the AFC Championship game and has been on a downward spiral after every season. That was six years ago and the league has become “Anti-Ryan” more and more. During his first years with the Jets, Ryan excelled by being able to shutdown offenses through complicated formations and unique blitzing. A Ryan defense was unpredictable, fast and could hit you in the mouth.
But like all once unpredictable things in the NFL, they slowly start to get figured out. It’s why we haven’t had back-to-back Super Bowl winners since the New England Patriots in 2004,2005. It’s why Colin Kaepernick and the read option is no longer lighting up the NFL. If you’re winning games and doing well then the rest of the league is actively going to find ways to stop you. It’s an adapt or die league and Rex Ryan proved that he just couldn’t adapt defensively.
Ryan’s defense that once gave opposing offenses headaches, became a staple in NFL Coaching 101. If you weren’t learning how to stop it, you were learning how to replicate it. And while mimicking is the greatest form of flattery, it was the greatest form of losses for Ryan as his effectiveness as a head coach began to diminish. But Rex’s unyielding confidence paired with his stubbornness is what hurt him the most as he refused to change his style in some effort to prove that he could do things his way. The Ryan way.