It might be easier to list who didn’t interview for the Buffalo Bills coaching job. Bill Belichick is under contract to some other team, while Hank Bullough seems content in retirement. This franchise considered just about everyone else connected to football. What seemed like an open application process was a shrewd attempt to have as many options as possible. The stamps for that many rejection letters are worth the investment.
The candidate who beat the odds to win stood out from the vaguely promising but unproven coordinators who may or may not have succeeded with a promotion. Rex Ryan is definitely a known quantity. He has been hard to miss while coaching 96 NFL games. The league will be hearing from Buffalo soon.
Hiring Ryan is as bold as he is. After bringing back Ted Nolan out of nowhere to coach that other athletic club of his, Terry Pegula made the sort of forceful move that suits his newest employee. Jets-haters are well-aware of the new guy’s charming brashness which occasionally comes across as obnoxiousness. But it’s about time to have a guy like that on our side. This team is long overdue to flaunt some character. If nothing else, the Bills have a coach who will be remembered for more than being forgettable.
Besides, the level of coverage isn’t controlled by the coach. Some of the exhausting focus on Rex’s every word was due to his last job site’s media market, which you may be aware has a reputation for antagonism. National football journalists followed suit, as they seemed most interested in his reaction whether the Jets won or lost. I hope he doesn’t get bored by the relative lack of confrontation while he finally gets to work in New York State.
A list of accomplishments might not lead to more of them. Some wondered if Bill Cowher might be tired enough of post-Lombardi life to be interested in coaching the Bills. I would have been fine with hiring him just to end his Time Warner ads. Rumor holds that he successfully coached football before serving as the spokesman for intermittent cable. But the game could have passed him by as he’s yapped about it. Rex Ryan had the chance to join Cowher’s present job field. But he preferred to stay in the game instead of merely commenting on it.
Experience is inadequate if a coach hasn’t achieved much during years served. For example, Chan Gailey and Dick Jauron were both honorable men overwhelmed coaching underwhelming teams. Of course, this franchise has also hired untested assistants who should’ve remained in their previous jobs. Doug Marrone joins an undistinguished group including prosaic bosses like Mike Mularkey and Gregg Williams. The Bills have often ended up with coaches who either couldn’t make the next step or continued to be less than mediocre. You may have heard about their postseason drought.
We can’t be sure how those new to the top job will perform until they’re actually trying their new tasks. Teams can try to cover everything during interviews, but asking “Are you going to be a good head coach?” may not yield accurate results. Going with someone like Ryan is one way to avoid worrying about a trainee getting promoted beyond his skill level. At least his previous team’s downward slide can be dissected in hopes of avoiding a repeat. It beats wondering if a first-time coach will struggle from the first game.
The first Bills coach with two first names is beloved by players for the hard-nosed style he employs. A run-first philosophy theoretically benefits a defense that looks to continue dictating terms to opponents. Also, Ryan is one of the few coaches who can come to Buffalo and get a better quarterback situation than he had in his previous NFL job. Geno Smith and Michael Vick can’t measure up to EJ Manuel and nobody.
There’s risk involved in linking the team’s identity with someone as bombastic as Ryan, especially if he’s unable to increase offensive production above where it was with the slow-moving Jets. But there’s more risk in trusting an inexperienced coordinator in his 30s. That option would have happened to be more affordable. That didn’t influence an owner who realizes that looking for low prices can be costly. Pegula isn’t pinching pennies, or any other coins, for that matter.
Ryan will be an exception if he succeeds. This franchise has had three good head coaches, or four if you generously count the oafish Wade Phillips. There’s finally excitement that this fraternity may not remain so elite. The second owner is making a statement that sounds like an exclamation.
Entertaining quotes don’t win games. But at least Ryan will be boisterous enough during lulls to keep fans interested. He’s far more engaging than his predecessor, although that’s not much of an accomplishment. There will be no more Doug Marrone-style bland platitudes recited during press conferences, as he revealed as little as he accomplished. At the rate the last guy’s job search is going, the only thing he might deliver this year is pizza to his old front office.
The new coach also has the right enemies. Ryan of course loathes the Jets while presumably maintaining the same disdain for the Patriots and Dolphins. Meanwhile, other teams may finally have an opinion about the Bills. Even while they again merely watch the playoffs, this team begins drawing attention now. Nabbing a coach known for his volume is a great way to announce intentions.