Rex Ryan was fired by the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, offering an opportunity for the brash head coach to take some time off and reevaluate.
The Rex Ryan brand is built around his persona. He’s brash and boastful, immediately giving whatever team he joins some bravado and swagger. Ryan isn’t afraid to talk big in an NFL that is led by the comparatively understated and reserved Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll types.
When Ryan first became a head coach, his bravado and bragging was a welcome change. He immediately shook things up. Ryan wasn’t afraid to talk tough, acting like a prizefighter at a weigh-in.
At first the tough talk was backed up. A 9-7 record in 2009 and an appearance in the AFC Championship game with the New York Jets proved he could back up his talk. An 11-5 record and another AFC Championship appearance in 2010 made him seem like the real deal.
Unfortunately for Ryan, it all went downhill from there. Since 2010, Ryan hasn’t managed to win more than eight games in a season. He has become the definition of mediocrity, joining the ranks of Jeff Fisher. In light of his record in subsequent seasons, it wasn’t surprising that the Jets got rid of Ryan at the end of 2014 and a 4-12 season.
Enter the Buffalo Bills. The Bills took a gamble on Ryan after Doug Marrone voluntarily left after a 9-7 season as head coach in 2014. The change from the understated Marrone to the brash Ryan gave a bit of swagger to the Bills, but didn’t translate to success.
After eight-straight seasons at the helm, Ryan is no longer a head coach in the NFL. He’ll undoubtedly have some suitors following the 2016 season’s conclusion, but he should take some time off after this latest dismissal. With three more years on his contract with the Bills, Ryan isn’t going to be left out on the street without any money to his name. He’s still owed $16 million at this point.
This should give Ryan some much-needed time to get himself together so he can make another run as head coach in coming seasons. Whether that means sitting at home collecting a paycheck or heading back to the sidelines as a coordinator, Ryan would be foolhardy to rush into another new situation so quickly. It would fit his personality, but it wouldn’t necessarily help his future value.
It takes time to establish an appropriate culture in the NFL. Ryan is not a bad coach, but his abilities will only continue to be diluted in the transition period that comes with taking over a new team. After being worn down over a long tenure with the Jets and a quick jump to the Bills, there’s only so that Ryan can give to a team right now. If he were to sign on with a new team he wouldn’t be giving them the best and that is unfair to himself and to that team.
There’s no guarantee that Ryan gets an offer from another team. There’s no guarantee that he is wanted after proving he can’t get teams over the hump. A little rest and relaxation may be exactly what he needs.
After a little time away the NFL may finally be ready for him to come back and shake things up again.