The Buffalo Bills are parting ways with head coach Rex Ryan. The franchise fired Ryan after most of two seasons and a 15-16 record with the team. The team announced the news on Tuesday morning. Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will assume interim duties for the team’s final game of the season.
His brother and defensive coordinator, Rob, was also let go. Several players had complained that Rex gave too much authority for the defense to his brother, SB Nation reported.
Rex Ryan told Bills ownership if they were going to fire him to fire him now, so they did, according to Bills sources as reported by SB Nation’s Thomas George.
Bills owner Terry Pegula released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the decision to move on from Ryan.
Ryan slid onto the hot seat after an 0-2 start, but recovered after firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and installing Anthony Lynn in his stead. The team responded with a four-game winning streak, including a home victory over arch-rival New England, that briefly swept the criticism from the outspoken coach’s shoulders.
But the relief wouldn’t last. Buffalo lost its next three games to drop out of the postseason race and return to the dead zone between rebuilding and contending the Bills have called home the past five seasons. Ryan conceded the AFC East to the Patriots after Week 8 and then struggled to put his team in wild card contention in the face of a challenging schedule.
The final straw was an embarrassing loss at home to the Dolphins in Week 16. After talking up his defense all season, they failed to show up. In fact, they only managed to get 10 men on the field on a critical overtime play on which Miami’s Jay Ajayi broke off a 57-yard run that set up a game-winning field goal.
Tyrod Taylor will feel some fallout from Ryan’s firing too. The Bills will sit Taylor for their season finale against the Jets, replacing him with E.J. Manuel. It has as much to do with financial reasons as it does anything else.
Ryan came to the Bills after a roller-coaster six-year tenure with the Jets. He coached New York to back-to-back AFC Championship game appearances in his first two years with the franchise but failed to return to the playoffs after 2010. A 4-12 season in 2014 led to his ousting that December, which in turn led him upstate to Buffalo.
Ryan, the son of defensive pioneer Buddy Ryan and fraternal twin of Bills defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, has coached in some capacity since 1987. He began as a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky before spending four years as defensive coordinator at Morehead State. That led to a position on the Arizona Cardinals staff, and from there he bounced around DC positions in the NFL and NCAA before earning his first head-coaching opportunity in the Meadowlands in 2009.
If history is any indication, Ryan won’t be unemployed for long. Only two weeks passed between his dismissal from the Jets and his hiring with the Bills. If he chooses to take a break from the sidelines, his boisterous personality would all but guarantee him an analyst role on any of the plentiful NFL pregame shows out there.