Rex's decision to make Enemkpali a captain is a jab at Geno

BY Mike Garafolo • November 9, 2015

For years, Rex Ryan has sent out players who were facing their former team to midfield for the coin toss as captains, though the random nature of the designations makes them less about captaincy and more about trolling, as they call it here on the Internet.

Ryan will hide behind that excuse in defending his decision to name IK Enemkpali a captain for Thursday's game against the New York Jets. Just like the Buffalo Bills' decision to claim Enemkpali only a few days after he broke Geno Smith's jaw with a punch, it's a message to his former team.

Of course, it's sending a clear one to Smith, as well.

In two seasons as Ryan's quarterback with the Jets, Smith completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes and threw 25 touchdowns to 34 interceptions. He also missed a team meeting in San Diego a day before the Jets faced the Chargers because he was at the movies and couldn't figure out the time change. Smith was a less-than-stellar option as a quarterback for a team that hasn't had a reliable one since Chad Pennington. (Not including Brett Favre's one-year stint that was solid at times.)

If Ryan had even an ounce of respect for Smith, there's no way he'd name Enemkpali a captain because, by doing so, he's rewarding Enemkpali for taking Smith off the field with an action that occurred nowhere near it. In essence, Ryan is saying, "I wish you'd done that while I was still the coach."

Is that a stretch and putting words in Ryan's mouth? Maybe. But he's long been known as a players' coach who has shown them the respect they want from their head coach.

Not in this case, though. Even though Smith isn't Ryan's quarterback anymore, there's a code that's been violated here. If Ryan's message was somehow only a shot at how terrible Smith was as his quarterback that would be fine.

In fact, a source told FOX Sports earlier this year Ryan tried to pump up his Bills players for their game against the New England Patriots by telling them how he routinely was able to beat the Pats or at least keep it close.

"And that was with my quarterbacks making plays for them," the source, who heard the talk to the players, recalled Ryan saying.

That was in reference to Smith and Mark Sanchez. And while not entirely accurate -- the Jets did get hammered a few times by New England, namely on Thanksgiving three years ago when "Buttfumble" became a term -- it's perfectly acceptable and hysterical meeting-room chatter.

But once Enemkpali connected with Smith's jaw and decided a quarterback competition long before it was supposed to be over, this became about more than just football. This is about assault.

And that's why the Bills' front office should step in and put an end to Ryan's plan for Enemkpali. The NFL suspended the linebacker for his action and for good reason. Bills executives should realize this captaincy simply isn't appropriate.

Short of that, here's hoping Todd Bowles makes Smith one of his captains. Heck, make him the only captain for the game. Give him the chance to look Enemkpali in the eye and remind his former teammate what he did to him and why he didn't deserve such treatment, regardless of broken promises or money owed.

Ryan doesn't have to like Smith the quarterback, but he should respect Smith the man. Here's hoping he changes his mind in the coming days.

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