Continuity, it’s a word Buffalo Bills fans have all heard since the end of the 2015 season. The Pegula’s, Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley have all used the word to describe their current situation in Buffalo. There were high hopes headed into the 2015 season, but a disappointing finish left a bad taste in the mouths of many. However, the Bills are staying the course, and it’s the right thing to do.
When Terry and Kim Pegula hired Rex Ryan as their Head Coach, it appeared that the Buffalo Bills were in full “win now” mode. Instead of hiring a first time Head Coach in hopes of finding the next legend, they went with Ryan, a guy with prior NFL success. The move shocked Bills fans, as this was the first big name celebrity coach the team had hired in recent memory. Fans were excited when their new leader told them to “get ready” for the playoffs, because “we’re going.” Season tickets sold at an all-time rate as Bills fans could not wait to see the revamped Buffalo Bills offense with additions such as LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin added to an already strong defense. The defensive strength those remembered, though, quickly vanished.
Buffalo’s once stagnant offense become fun to watch as Tyrod Taylor had a breakout season, LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams dominated the run game, and Sammy Watkins burst onto the scene as a premier wideout in the NFL. However, as a shock to many, the once frightening defense became the stagnant group. As defense is Ryan’s strength, it is no wonder why so many were and are disappointed with how poorly the defense played as a unit. The 2015 Bills became the opposite of what they were in 2014, they became a powerful offensive team with a weak defense.
Fan frustration is understandable after a disappointing 2015, but it is not a reason to bail on Rex Ryan after one season. Sixteen years of anger and frustration have made Bills fans desperate for change at the first sign of trouble, but change will not be happening, as it shouldn’t. Rex Ryan has had success as a Head Coach in the NFL. He coached a team without a quarterback to two conference championships, and has had a strong defensive unit in just about every season as a Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator.
A major reason for the defensive failure this season, a rarity for Ryan, was that he attempted to please too many people. He was aware that the prior season’s scheme had been effective, and he admitted that he tried to run it in addition to his own scheme. This caused the defensive playbook to be too complicated and complex for his players. It was a mistake on Ryan’s part, as the Head Coach should have just implemented his own defensive scheme, and only his defensive scheme, from the start. With the additions of Rob Ryan and Ed Reed to the defensive coaching staff, it appears Rex Ryan is about to do just that.
While the Pegula’s are willing to give Ryan at least one more season to fix the defense and get their team to the playoffs, here is to hoping both he and Whaley get more than one season to do so. With Whaley’s recent extension, it appears the Pegula’s are willing to do so. No more changing Head Coaches and General Managers every few seasons in desperate hopes of finding a person who can instantly fix a team and become a legend.
Instead, let’s give a a coach and a GM a chance for a change. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had three Head Coaches in their entire team history, and the Dallas Cowboys gave Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry a ten-year extension after early failures in Dallas. Now, obviously a ten-year extension would never happen in today’s NFL. However, the Bills need to emulate the formula used by premier franchises in the NFL. That formula is continuity. This is not to say Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley will definitely get the Bills back to the playoffs, but let’s give them time to see if they can.