When I heard that Doug Marrone was leaving his position as the Buffalo Bills’ head coach, I was less than happy. Marrone led the Bills to only their second winning season since they last made the playoffs in the 1999-2000 season.
It looked like they were making progress, until Marrone seemingly set them back several years by deciding he didn’t want to work for new owner Terry Pegula. To be honest, I was expecting the Bills to go out and hire some random coordinator that would lead the team to a subpar record over the next two or three years and we’d be right back where we started. Then something weird happened.
Rumors that Buffalo had hired eccentric former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan began leaking on Jan. 10. The next day, prominent figures including National Football League insider Ian Rapoport were tweeting that the Bills had offered him the position and Ryan was planning to accept.
There was definitely a large mix of reactions from Bills fans. On one hand, the Bills hired a big-name coach for the first time since Wade Phillips—a hire made in 1998. On the other hand, Ryan is a defensive-minded coach who really can’t help the Bills’ weakest unit: their offense. On top of that, the Bills had an incredible defense this past season, allowing the fourth fewest points per game and total yards per game. Adding Ryan also means that the mastermind behind this powerful defense, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, would be leaving his post.
Despite the obvious downsides to hiring Ryan, he brings something to the Bills’ organization that cannot be measured in statistics; he makes the Bills relevant on the national scale. His loud-mouth style of coaching means that someone from ESPN will be reporting from the Bills’ training camp in Pittsford, New York this August almost every night.
Ryan’s personality is a huge reason why the Jets were selected to be the feature team on the HBO show “Hard Knocks” in 2010. During that show, he was caught on camera saying, “Let’s make sure we play like the fucking New York Jets and not some fucking slap-dick team … Do we understand what the fuck I want to see tomorrow? Now let’s go eat a goddamn snack.”
I hate having to turn on NFL Network only to wait and see if they mention the Bills get mentioned in a footnote right before a commercial break. With Ryan as head coach, Buffalo will be the top story more than once this season. When the 2015 NFL schedule is released, I fully expect the Bills to be on national television three times: once because every team is required to play one Thursday night game, once because of their defense and one more time because of Ryan.
The Bills’ offense will do fine under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman. He was able to groom University of Nevada second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick into a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback. I’m not saying he can do the same with current Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel, but at least Roman can make him into a quarterback that can make the playoffs. There’s nothing that Ryan will be able to do to mess that up.
Now, let’s go eat a goddamn snack and enjoy every word that comes out of Ryan’s mouth.