BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Rex Ryan is a finalist for the Buffalo Bills’ head coaching job after landing a second interview with the team on Saturday night, a person familiar with the meeting confirmed to The Associated Press.
The person added the interview with the former New York Jets coach began the second phase of the Bills’ search process. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not revealed details of its search to replace Doug Marrone, who stepped down abruptly on Dec. 31.
ESPN.com first reported the development earlier in the evening.
Without revealing who or how many, the person said the team intends to have second interviews with other candidates before making a decision on who to hire.
The Bills interviewed 12 candidates over the past eight days in a process that concluded on Saturday, when Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin met with the team.
Two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan, Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson were among those who also interviewed for the job.
Ryan is very familiar with the Bills after spending the past six seasons coaching their AFC East rival. He had a 50-52 record, including 4-2 in the playoffs, with the Jets before being fired along with general manager John Idzik following a 4-12 finish.
Ryan’s background is on defense, which also happens to be the Bills’ strength. Buffalo’s defense finished fourth in the NFL in yards allowed last season and produced three Pro Bowl linemen.
Ryan’s challenge in Buffalo would be similar to the one he had in New York in providing a spark to a sputtering offense. The Jets finished 22nd in yards last season – four spots ahead of Buffalo.
Quarterbacks were concerns for both teams, and involving two players selected in the 2013 draft.
The Jets faltered behind second-year starter Geno Smith, who was eventually benched and replaced by Michael Vick.
In Buffalo, second-year starter EJ Manuel was benched after four games and replaced by 10-year journeyman Kyle Orton, who has since announced his intention to retire.
The Bills finished 9-7 to match their best record in a decade, but missed the playoffs to extend the NFL’s longest active drought to 15 seasons.
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