Rex Ryan has run out of excuses in Buffalo

BY Dieter Kurtenbach • December 14, 2016

Before the Bills' Week 14 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, reports surfaced that echoed what we’ve known for weeks: Buffalo's Rex Ryan was coaching for his job.

If that’s the case — there’s little reason to believe it’s not — then the Bills players made the decision whether to keep or fire Ryan easy for ownership.

Really easy.

The final score of Sunday’s game might say that Buffalo lost to the playoff-contending Steelers by only seven, but the difference between the two teams on the field could not have been starker.

The Bills couldn't tackle and couldn’t block, and they weren’t all that successful running or throwing the ball, either. Ben Roethlisberger had a poor game, but that seemed to have more to do with the snow than anything the Bills were doing.

Buffalo seemed consistently late in substituting on defense, and the Bills' offense was out of sync until the Steelers were assured of a victory up 24-7 with 10 minutes to play — that’s when Buffalo racked up two touchdowns as the Steelers played “let’s get out of here without injury” defense.

It’d be bold to say that the Bills quit on Ryan on Sunday — it’s an overused trope used to explain poor play without every really analyzing the problems (if you want to see at team that’s really quitting, look at the New York Jets) — but the fact that some are tossing around that kind of language to describe the Bills speaks to the low level of play in Buffalo.

This was supposed to be the year for the Bills — the one in which Buffalo made the jump to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC.

Ryan entered the season on the hot seat, sure, but he also had what was viewed as a 10-win squad. If Ryan was the right man for the Bills’ job, the world would know it by the way his team played in 2016.

Ryan is clearly not the right man for the job.

Ryan brought in his brother, Rob, as his defensive coordinator, but the Bills' defense has regressed, even after a regression year in 2015. After a 0-2 start to the year, Ryan fired his offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, and took some heat off of his seat — Buffalo then beat Arizona and a Tom Brady-less Patriots team, and because no one knew any better than to think those were really good wins at the time, Rex looked safe.

Beating the Rams and 49ers to move to 4-2 helped his cause, too.

But when the Bills played good teams this year, like New England (with Brady), Seattle, Oakland, and Pittsburgh, it was clear that Buffalo was not in that class.

Tyrod Taylor hasn’t thrown for 300 yards once this season, Shady McCoy hasn’t had much room to run, Sammy Watkins couldn’t stay healthy and no one stepped up in his absence, and — this point cannot be empathized enough — that Bills defense, for having as much talent as it does and with two “defensive geniuses” at the helm, has been lackluster at best.

In Ryan’s last four years with the New York Jets, he failed to make the playoffs — he hasn’t coached a team with a winning record since 2010.

Perhaps the expectations for his Bills team in 2016 were always out of place.

Ryan could be fired on Monday. He might make it through Week 17. But even if the Bills end the season at 9-7 by virtue of beating two of the worst teams in football, the Jets and Browns, as well as the Ryan Tannehill-less Miami Dolphins, it shouldn’t be enough to save his job.

If the Bills were going to make the playoffs, Sunday’s game against a playoff-worthy team was the moment of truth.

The Bills didn’t measure up, and that result has to reflect heavily on Ryan.



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