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.
The Bills announced Tuesday that they have fired head coach Rex Ryan and assistant head coach Rob Ryan.
Rex Ryan’s tenure in Buffalo ends after two seasons. He went 8-8 in his first season in Buffalo before leading the team to a 7-8 record heading into Week 17.
Prior to being hired by Buffalo, Ryan coached the Jets for six seasons, leading them to playoff berths and AFC championship appearances in his first two seasons with the team. He went 46-50 in the regular season overall for the Jets and has a career head coaching record of 61-66.
Running backs coach Anthony Lynn has been promoted to interim head coach for the Bills’ regular season finale against the Jets.
Bill Belichick released a statement on Buddy Ryan's passing Tuesday afternoon.
"Today is a sad day in football due to the passing of Buddy Ryan," Belichick said. "It was always very challenging to compete against Coach Ryan, who was father to a great football family that carries on his coaching and defensive tradition. My condolences are with the Ryan Family."
Belichick is certainly very familiar with Ryan's legacy and the tradition Ryan passed down to his sons Rex and Rob. The Patriots coach has competed against all three.
Rex Ryan has squared off with Belichick during his time as head coach for the Jets (2009-14) and Bills (2015-present), and their matchups go back to Rex's days with the Ravens (1999-2008) when he was a defensive line coach and then defensive coordinator.
Rob Ryan, like his brother, got his first NFL break when his father was the head coach of the Cardinals in the mid-1990s. His second break, though, came from Belichick. He joined the Patriots staff during Belichick's first year as head coach in 2000 and coached linebackers for four seasons in New England. He has since competed against Belichick as a defensive coordinator for the Raiders, Browns, Cowboys and Saints. Rob joined Rex in Buffalo this year to serve as an assistant on the staff there.
For Belichick's thoughts on the impact of Buddy Ryan's famous "46" defense, we dug up some of his comments from a 2012 press conference that you can find here. He called the combination of Ryan's scheme and the talented players Ryan had at his disposal as defensive coordinator of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears "pretty unblockable."