Less than a year ago, the Bills were quite the popular sleeper pick to improve on defense and make a big improvement with Rex Ryan at the helm. But the unit disappointed in 2015, allowing Ryan to hire many new faces that have made plenty of headlines in recent weeks.
Ryan’s unit showed a major decline since 2014’s no. two finish in defensive DVOA under coordinator Jim Schwartz. According to Football Outsiders, the Bills fell all the way to 24th this year and were ranked 30th in rush defense.
Run D has been the Achilles heel of Buffalo’s teams for years now, but seeing a performance that bad with all the talent and money invested in the defensive line was surprising to say the least.
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So, instead of considering switching back to the 4-3 scheme that the roster was built for, Buffalo has decided to invest even more into Ryan’s 3-4 defense and replenish with new assistants. First, the Bills hired Rob Ryan, Rex’s twin brother, as a defensive assistant.
Rob was fired in the middle of last season as the coordinator of a 32nd ranked Saints defense. The year before wasn’t much better, ranking 31st. Look back even further to his days with the Cowboys, and you find a three-year stint capped off by a dead last finish in yards allowed in 2013. Clearly, Rob has never been a good coordinator, so having him on as an assistant is somewhat of a risk.
To add on, Rex hired another former colleague and friend in Ed Reed, which gives the future Hall of Famer his first ever coaching gig. To doubt the caliber of someone like Reed’s ability to be a good coach would be disrespectful, but bringing in multiple big names in a short time period puts plenty of pressure on immediate improvement moving forward.
Meanwhile, a seemingly ultra-talented player like Mario Williams, who was perfectly fine as a linebacker with the Texans earlier in his career, voiced his concerns about playcalling multiple times and will likely not be back with Buffalo next season.
Buffalo should be keeping the talent that got the defense to the level it was at before switching to Ryan’s scheme rather than blaming the decline on a bad coaching staff. And based on the hires the team is making, it seems like Rex Ryan is the ultimate decision maker for the franchise at this point, all while another year of missing the playoffs may mean a new head coach a year from now.
A carousel of coaches definitely isn’t the solution to the ongoing problem.