The Rex Ryan Era with the Buffalo Bills ended with extreme disappointment and another year of no playoffs.
The Rex Ryan Era for the Buffalo Bills has come and gone in less than two years. Ryan came to the team with high hopes and even higher expectations. Unfortunately, neither were met.
Ryan inherited a top-ten defense upon his arrival. In his two years with the team, the defense has gotten worse. In fact, in his final game as head coach, it would be the defense that would be his undoing.
The offense was an old school run-first offense. While that helped the Bills become the best rushing team in the league, the passing game often took a backseat.
The defense was not the only weak link, injuries and suspensions hurt the team in both seasons. It doesn’t matter who the coach or quarterback is, if you don’t have a healthy enough team, it will be hard to win.
As a Rex Ryan fan, I believed he deserved at least one more season. There have been multiple teams that go from worse to first, but traditionally, that is not always the case.
Owners can have short patience and itchy trigger fingers. While that can be helpful in some cases, it can also backfire. I like the “old school” approach where you give a coach 3-5 years to turn a team around. That is a realistic timetable. While I get there has to be some sense of urgency, and not every coach can stick around forever like Jeff Fisher, there also has to be a respectable amount of time given.
After a disappointing first season, the Bills followed that up with a bad offseason. Injuries and suspensions took a toll on the team all the way up to the season opener.
The decision to quickly cut talented running back Karlos Williams after one season, came as a bit of a shock. Pro Bowl receiver Sammy Watkins was in and out of the lineup all season. All-Pro defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was suspended for the second year in a row, the first four games of the season.
This year the team played hard. After a 0-2 start, the Buffalo Bills stayed in playoff contention until last week. They lost a number of close games, and if a few things would have gone another way, they could have easily won 11 or 12 games. This is a playoff caliber team. They were a playoff caliber team last year as well. I get the frustration and sense of urgency, but there needs to be some patience as well.
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You look at teams like the Chiefs, Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals. Over the last few years they have been consistently some of the better teams in the AFC. Every year, along with the Patriots, you can count them among the teams to be in the playoffs. These teams have a few things in common. Patriots aside, they don’t always have a winning season. When you think of a team like the Steelers, you think of all the Super Bowls, but they don’t always make the playoffs.
The same can be said of the Ravens, Bengals, and Chiefs. If they have a down year, they don’t clean house. Injuries happen. Tougher schedule. Bad calls. Just a plain bad season. But they stick with their coach. They continue to build their team through the draft and free agency. These teams have stability. They don’t start over every 2 or 3 years.
You look at teams that are always changing coaches. Teams like the Bills, Browns, Jets, and Bears among others. They are constantly changing coaches. Sure, they have the occasional winning season, but traditionally over the last few years, these teams have been among the worst in the league.