Buffalo Bills Fire Coach Rex Ryan One Week Away from Game vs. Jets

Rex Ryan was dismissed before the Bills’ final game of the season, against the Jets, his former team. He went 15-16 during his two seasons in Buffalo. (Bill Wippert/Associated Press)
Rex Ryan was dismissed before the Bills’ final game of the season, against the Jets, his former team. He went 15-16 during his two seasons in Buffalo. (Bill Wippert/Associated Press)

Rex Ryan needed just one more win — against the faltering Jets, no less — to become the first Buffalo Bills head coach in 16 years to post back-to-back .500 seasons.

As it turns out, he will not be afforded that opportunity on Sunday, when the N.F.L. concludes its regular season. In a move that was surprising more for its timing than its outcome, Ryan was fired Tuesday and replaced by his offensive coordinator, Anthony Lynn, on an interim basis.

Ryan still has three years left on a five-year deal worth $5.5 million per season, an indication of just how badly the Bills’ owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, wished to be rid of the boisterous Ryan. The dismissal had been rumored for more than a week, though the Bills had been expected to wait until the so-called black Monday, the day after the regular season ends, to pull the trigger.

Instead, Ryan, 54, was dumped sooner than later, along with his brother, the defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, after a particularly demoralizing 34-31 overtime loss to the Dolphins on Saturday.

After that game, which Ryan termed “as painful of a loss as I can remember,” he admitted to committing several game-management errors. Among those mistakes was a defensive alignment consisting of only 10 men on the field on a play in which Miami running back Jay Ajayi ran for 57 yards to set up the winning field goal. Ryan would later explain away the miscue by pointing out that cornerback Stephon Gilmore was on the sideline undergoing concussion protocol.

“I think the communication he had was he was heading back on the field, and apparently that wasn’t the case,” Ryan told reporters after the game, referring to Gilmore.

That play alone did not sabotage Ryan’s career with the Bills, who have now gone 17 seasons without making the playoffs and have not retained the same coach for more than three years since Marv Levy’s last season, in 1997.

While coaching the Jets for six seasons — and reaching the A.F.C. championship game in his first two — Ryan built a reputation for creating strong, aggressive defenses. He was never able to manage that with the Bills, however, and his teams in Buffalo also suffered from the same shortcoming he endured with the Jets: the absence of a top-tier quarterback.

In New York, Ryan managed games tightly with erratic performers at quarterback like Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. In Buffalo, he tethered his wagon to quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who appeared to take several steps back in recent weeks.

Ryan went to Buffalo in January 2015, replacing the former coach Doug Marrone, whose defense was ranked fourth in the N.F.L. Despite hiring Ryan’s brother this season to help with that unit, the Bills had real trouble stopping the run. In the Dolphins game on Saturday, Ajayi gained 206 rushing yards.

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SOURCE: FILIP BONDY 
The New York Times