Can Buffalo handle two Ryans?
Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan hired his twin brother, Rob, as assistant head coach/defense on Sunday.
Joe Buscaglia of WKBW reported that Rob Ryan will have a fair amount of power though Dennis Thurman, who was hired last January, is expected to continue his role as defensive coordinator.
“I’m excited to have Rob join our staff, and I think he will be a great asset for our defense,” Rex Ryan said in the release. “He has a tremendous working knowledge of our schemes, and I look forward to his input. On a personal note, it’s been a number of years since we worked together, so we are both really excited about this opportunity.”
The 53-year-old twin brothers haven’t worked as full-time coaches together since Rob served as the defensive backs coach and Rex was responsible for the d-linemen and linebackers under their father, Buddy Ryan, with the Cardinals in 1994-95.
Rob Ryan was fired by the New Orleans Saints as the team’s defensive coordinator on November 17. At the time of the firing, New Orleans ranked last in the NFL in total yards allowed (424.7 per game) and in points allowed (31.5 per game), according to USA Today.
The Saints ranked 31st in DVOA in 2014 and ranked last in Football Outsiders‘ top metric prior to Rob Ryan’s dismissal this season.
When Rob Ryan was fired as DC this year, the Saints had allowed 424.7 yards per game, which would've been the 2nd most in NFL history.— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) January 11, 2016
Buffalo finished a disappointing 8-8 in Rex Ryan’s first year, in large part due to the failure of the defense, which is Ryan’s forte. The Bills’ defense fell in several statistical categories this season, and finished 19th in yards allowed, 15th in points allowed, and registered a franchise-low 21 sacks.
In 2014, the Bills finished fourth in total yards allowed and recorded a league-high 54 sacks.
So, what happened to the Bills defensively, and will Rob Ryan be able to help them?
Based on players’ complaints, Rex’s scheme was too complicated, calls came in too late, it required late adjustments based on offensive looks, and defensive linemen were sometimes required to drop into pass coverage.
Rex Ryan, who was a guest on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike Show this morning, said that he tried to incorporate his scheme and that of former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and it backfired, and he added the Bills will run a more pure version of his defense this upcoming season.
The Bills also did have several key injuries on that side of the football. Cornerback Ron Brooks, DT Alex Carrington, CB Stephon Gilmore, DE Jarius Wynn, DE Mario Williams, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Ronald Darby, S Aaron Williams, and DT Kyle Williams were among key figures to miss time.
Buffalo does have some talent with Darby, Gilmore, Corey Graham, Preston Brown, Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes. Graham, a safety, led the Bills with 127 tackles and Brown, a linebacker, was second with 120. Darby had an outstanding rookie year, and Gilmore is solid as is Dareus.
“That’s a huge thing,” Ryan said Monday. “We got better yesterday because we were able to get my brother. One thing I know about him is that he’s probably the most — football is such a passion for him. Nobody works harder than my brother. He’s prepared as well as any coach in the league, and he’s an outstanding coach. So like I said, we got better yesterday.”
The Bills are not projected to be big spenders this offseason, according to Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, and figure to be $375,000 or more over the salary cap. That means Buffalo has decisions to make as they have several free agents.
Carrington, Brooks, and Bradham are unrestricted free agents on the defensive side. According to ESPN, re-signing Bradham is not a major priority for the Bills, though he reportedly would like to come back. Brooks, a role player, has declared he won’t be back.
In addition, Mario Williams will not be back as he’s been released, and it is also possible that Graham, Kyle Williams, and cornerback Leodis McKelvin will not return.
The Bills have not reached the playoffs since 1999, which is the longest current drought in the league.
[Photo by Gary Wiepert/AP]