Rex Ryan is out as Buffalo Bills head coach.
The organization fired Ryan on Tuesday, days after a disappointing 34-31 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins. The defeat dropped the Bills to 7-8 and eliminated them from playoff contention, ensuring the franchise’s postseason drought extends to 17 seasons. It’s the longest such stretch among current NFL teams.
Rex Ryan has been relieved of his duties as head coach. Anthony Lynn will serve as interim head coach. pic.twitter.com/8Vf0fxqwcl
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 27, 2016
Rumors of an impending coaching change began to ruminate ahead of Buffalo’s week 14 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. A report from CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora indicated that the Bills brass were prepared to make a move away from Ryan as soon as last Monday.
A week later, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Bills were preparing to part ways with Ryan even though the timing of the move was uncertain.
Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will take over on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.
Buffalo Bills Fire Head Coach Rex Ryan
2016 was a rollercoaster ride of sorts for Ryan and the Bills. After starting 0-2, Ryan made his own change to the coaching staff, firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and promoting Lynn, the team’s running backs coach at the time, to the same position.
The move appeared to work. Buffalo won their next four games by an average margin of victory of 17.75 points. It included a 16-0 shutout of the New England Patriots, the first time the Pats had failed to score in the history of Gillette Stadium which opened in 2002.
But things began taking a turn for the worst in week five. Against the Miami Dolphins, the Bills coughed up an 11-point third quarter lead and ultimately lost 28-25. The main storyline coming out of that game was Ryan’s questionable decision to start a less than 100 percent LeSean McCoy over a healthy Mike Gillislee.
It marked the beginning of a three-game losing streak that culminated with a controversial 31-25 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. A comedy of errors from the officials that included a missed roughing the kicker call and incorrect delay of game penalty led to Dan Carpenter missing a 54-yard field goal. The Bills could have forced overtime if the kick went in since they were driving inside the red zone late.
Despite that setback, the Bills rebounded after their bye week. They narrowly beat the Cincinnati Bengals 16-12 on the road and followed that up with a 28-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at New Era Field. At 6-5, Ryan and the Bills were clearly in the hunt.
Then they proceeded to lose their next two. The frustrating theme of blowing second half leads plagued Buffalo against the Oakland Raiders. Despite leading 24-9 midway through the third quarter, they allowed Oakland to put up 29 unanswered points down the stretch, falling 38-24.
A week later, the Bills came out sluggish in a must-win game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They trailed 14-0 in the second quarter and 24-7 with 9:57 left in the fourth quarter. Though they outscored Pittsburgh 13-3 the rest of the way, it wasn’t enough as the Steelers prevailed, 27-20.
Though the team would beat the hapless Cleveland Browns 33-13 in Week 15 to salvage slim playoff hopes, it would all come crashing down a week later. Against Miami, the Bills trailed 28-14 in the third quarter but mustered a comeback to take a 31-28 lead late in the game. But Dolphins kicker Andrew Franks nailed a 55-yard field goal at the end of the fourth quarter to force overtime.
In the extra period, Buffalo gave up a 57-yard run from Jay Ajayi in which the defense had just ten men on the field. The miscue eventually set up Miami with a chip shot 27-yard field goal that sealed the Bills and Ryan’s fate.
Tuesday’s news casts uncertainty over Ryan’s viability as an NFL head coach. For the second time in three seasons, the 53-year-old finds himself out of a job after a less than stellar campaign on the part of his team. His current career record is 61-66 and he’s made the playoffs just twice in his seven-year head coaching career to this point.
Buffalo’s season closes on Sunday, January 1st on the road against the New York Jets. The game kicks off at 1 PM ET and will be televised on CBS.