There will be a lot of discussion today and over the next few weeks about how the NFL is a less fun place without Rex Ryan in it.
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To Ryan's credit, he understood that better than anything else. He got that leveraging a happy-go-lucky, straight-shooting, this-is-me,love-me-or-leave-me persona would help him stand out as a head-coaching candidate among the staid Xs and Os winks.
There's little doubt that Rex's marching orders in Buffalo were not just to make the on-field product better, but to make the brand more compelling. To give it an identity. So he bought a big Bills pickup truck, immersed himself in Bills culture, nuzzled up to the stars of the 90s and stated intention to "build a bully." Inspired plan. It wasn't some intangible boring notion of being fundamentally sound or showing great on-field discipline. No, Rex's Bills would give the extra shot or stand over a pile and try to intimidate.
Unfortunately, placing persona over substance sows the same seeds of disorganization and rudderless comportment that undermined Rex with the Jets.
You only need to look at the Bills-Patriots game early in 2015 and see how the Bills took themselves out of the game with their intention to bully New England. The Bills of course lost that game and the postgame featured the same addled excuses and promises that Rex has now made at both ends of the state.
They'd be better, couldn't have it, but dadgum, they competed.
And now Rex has lost his job. Two years of posing and puffery was enough time for the fog of Rex's deceit to clear and show that Rex is now what he was with the Jets. Terrific copy. Pretty likable guy. But wholly unsuited to lead a mass of men with a personality so based on perception and positioning and so light on real substance and attention to the details.