The Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams have already made head-coaching moves, and several other coaches could fall following their team’s week 17 games on Sunday.
Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan’s name has been thrown around recently as someone who may receive the pink slip. In fact, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe believes Ryan’s departure is almost a “sure thing,” as the Bills haven’t taken the leap that ownership expected when they hired Ryan before the 2015 season. Plus, the Bills’ defense has fallen back to the middle of the pack after carrying the team in the early going this year.
With their elimination from the playoffs, the Bills’ postseason drought has been extended to 17 years. Buffalo, 7-8 in 2016, has had two winning seasons and three seasons of finishing with a .500 record. Ryan is currently 14-15 in his two seasons with the team.
It didn’t help Ryan’s cause that the Bills’ defense got completely eaten up by the Miami Dolphins on Saturday as they missed tackle after tackle. The Dolphins rolled up 496 total yards of offense with 261 yards came on the ground. The Phins’ first three touchdowns occurred after the Bills failed to wrap up tackles.
Miami Running back Jay Ajayi finished the game with 206 rushing yards and one touchdown on 32 carries, marking the second time this season he has topped the 200-yard mark against Buffalo and the third time a running back has accomplished the feat against the Bills. Ajayi’s two-yard touchdown plunge came after he slipped through defensive linemen Leger Douzable’s tackle and then stiffed-armed safety Sergio Brown. The second-year back also set up the Dolphins game-winning field goal in overtime with a 57-yard run.
Rookie running back Kenyon Drake made the Bills pay dearly for over pursuing. Early in the second quarter on a second-and-three play, Drake took a hand-off from Matt Moore and bounced to the right side after finding no hole up the middle. He then beat linebacker Jerry Hughes to the edge and scampered 45 yards for a score.
Miami went up 21-7 in the third when wide receiver DeVante Parker caught a short pass over the middle and bounced off would-be tackle Nickell Robey-Coleman before bolting for the end zone.
Ryan made some mistakes individually during the game as well. He waited too long to call a timeout, which was an attempt to ice kicker Andrew Franks on his game 55-yard game-tying field goal as regulation time expired. Ryan also chose to punt with the Bills facing a fourth-and-three from their own 41-yard line with four minutes left in overtime rather than have confidence in his offense that accumulated a franchise-record 589 total yards. The punt ended up reaching the end zone giving Miami the ball back at the 20 yard line. In addition, the Bills had just 10 players on the field on Ajayi’s big overtime run, per ESPN.
Buffalo’s defense, Ryan’s specialty, is not better than what it was a year ago despite Ryan’s opinion. The Bills are currently ranked 19th in the league as they are allowing 358.9 yards a game, which is exactly where they finished last season after permitting 356.4 yards a contest.
Since the start of the 2015 season, the Bills rank 30th in yards allowed per rush, 21st in yards allowed per play, 20th in opposing third down conversion rate, 24th in opposing red zone TD rate, 29th in sacks per opposing pass attempt, 15th in net yards allowed per pass attempt and 15th in points allowed per game.
The Buffalo News is reporting that if Ryan is indeed done as the Bills coach, part of the reason could be due to the power struggle between him and general manager Doug Whaley.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn would be a candidate to replace Ryan. Former New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin also could garner some consideration.
Ryan doesn’t appear to be the only coach on his way out. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is reporting that while the San Diego Chargers haven’t formally relieved head coach Mike McCoy of his duties, they are expected to do so and will commence its search for a new coach in the near future.
The Chargers are 5-10 and are coming off a 20-17 loss to the previously winless Cleveland Browns. McCoy, who is signed through 2017, has a 27-36 record in four seasons with the team.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars are expected to consider Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith along with several college coaches such as Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze. New England’s offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and Coughlin are also possibilities.
In the meanwhile, the Rams are believed to be interested in ESPN’s John Gruden, McDaniel and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Peyton, among others.
[Featured Image by Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP Images]