Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan Is Doing Things His Way In Buffalo

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One thing is for sure this year in Buffalo is that Bills head coach Rex Ryan is doing things his way.  This off-season the Bills quickly made changes both to on field personnel, particularly on defense, and to their coaching staff, and they continued to make moves once free agency began.  The Bills head coach has made it clear that if you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  Rumors have circulated since the end of last season that the new owners of the Bills, Kim and Terry Pegula, gave Rex an ultimatum going into the 2016 season. The Pegulas allegedly told the former New York Jets head coach that if he and his staff cannot get the defense back on track in the 2016 season, and the Bills miss the playoffs again this year, the 2016 season will be their last in Buffalo.

Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan is Doing Things His Way

Rex began the off-season with a bang in early January by bringing on his brother Rob Ryan as assistant defensive coordinator.  This move made it clear immediately that the former Jets head coach was not going to bow to any of the criticism he endured about how he handled mixing up two different styles of defense last year.  In 2014 the Bills defense, under now Philadelphia Eagles coordinator Jim Schwartz, was ranked fourth overall.  That defense was 4-3 system, which counted on four defensive linemen to rush the quarterback, and produced a league high 54 sacks that season.  In 2015, Rex tried to merge Schwartz’s defense with his own style (a 3-4 scheme), which at times had one of those sack producing four defensive linemen dropping into coverage.  Last season Buffalo’s defense finished with only 21 sacks. and dropped to 19th in total defense.(source)  Not long after bringing on his brother Rob, Rex let go of his defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson, and brought in long time Baltimore Raven Ed Reed to replace him, another Rex Ryan guy.  More recently, Rex fired his defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, and brought in John Blake, a defensive line coach from Lamar University, to replace him.

The Bills also parted ways with Mario Williams this year, who was a free agent.  Williams made it no secret that he was not pleased playing in Rex Ryan’s scheme, and it was reported during and after the season that Williams in many ways checked out on the team and the defense in 2015.  One former teammate of Williams even went as far as to tell Albert Breer of the NFL Network that Williams’ effort this past season was “bad.” (source)  Though Williams not being re-signed by the Bills was in many ways a contractual and salary cap issue, his performance and unwillingness to buy into Rex’s system more than likely weighed into Buffalo’s decision to let Williams pursue other options.

The Bills have lost some depth on defense this off-season with both Bacarri Rambo and Leodis Mckelvin both leaving to join Schwartz in Philadelphia. Their departure leaves the Bills lacking at the safety position.  Considering Aaron Williams is coming off of a neck injury, and no one is quite sure how that injury will truly affect him once he gets back on the field, those loses could prove to be crucial.  The Bills also needs to find an additional linebacker to fit their head coach’s system.  Nigel Bradham is another former Bill who left Buffalo to join Schwartz in Philadelphia. It seems that many former Bills players want to sign in Philly, and Schwartz is only too happy to take them.  In his make or break year with the Bills, Rex is continuing to be Rex.  As he has proved in the past with the Jets, Rex is going to stay the course, and do what he feels is right and best.  I just hope that he is willing to ride this stubborn train he has put in motion all the way into the ground this season if the defense falters, and the Bills miss the playoffs for the 16th straight year.  If that happens, Rex could find it hard to come by another defensive coordinator position in the NFL, let alone find another head coaching position.

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