Rex Ryan will be staying in New York — state, that is. The fired New York Jets coach — who guided the New Jersey-based team to a 46-50 record and two trips to the AFC Conference Championship games in six seasons — will sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the only NFL team that actually plays its home games in New York State, the Buffalo Bills, according to reports by ESPN and the New York Daily News Sunday morning.
But the Atlanta Falcons apparently blew a chance to hire Ryan, failing to make a commitment to the coach after a five-hour job interview last week, which left both Ryan and the Falcons impressed.
The NFC South team immediately jumped to the top of the sought-after Ryan’s list, but then the Falcons started “dragging their feet” on scheduling a return interview with Ryan, according to the Daily News report.
The 52-year-old Ryan quickly lost patience, and on Saturday night, committed to coach the Jets’ AFC East rival Buffalo, according to the report. The move means that Ryan will also continue to coach two regular season games each season against the New England Patriots and their future Hall of Fame Coach Bill Belichick, who had often been on the receiving end of the outspoken Ryan’s verbal barbs.
Taking the Bills job makes Ryan the first NFL head coach to take a new job with a divisional rival since Belichick himself did it, jumping from the Jets — where he was named head coach but never coached a game and held the job for only one day — to the Patriots before the 2000 season.
The Falcons reportedly also came close to hiring Ryan, then the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator, in 2008. But again they passed, and Ryan took the Jets job instead, where he saw immediate success, reaching the AFC championship game in 2009 and 2010.
In 2010, the Jets 11-5 record was the franchise’s best since 1998, and Ryan’s team scored an upset victory over the arch-rival Patriots in the post-season, knocking New England out of the playoffs in the Divisional round.
But that January 16, 2010 showdown in Foxboro, Massachusetts, would remain Rex Ryan’s finest hour as Jets coach. His Jets teams never made the playoffs or even managed a winning season in the following four campaigns, bottoming out in 2014 with a dismal 4-12 performance that led the Jets to fire Ryan on December 29.
In the Bills, defensive specialist Rex Ryan takes over a team with the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL in 2014 — but which has not qualified for the playoffs in 15 years.