ORCHARD PARK – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by Sports Xchange) – The tumultuous, voluble, and largely unfulfilling two-year tenure of Rex Ryan as head coach of the Bills came to an end Tuesday when team owner Terry Pegula announced he was firing the bombastic 54-year-old who failed to end Buffalo’s embarrassing playoff drought, still going strong at 17 years.
Ryan blew into Buffalo with typical Ryan-centric bluster, proclaiming that not only would he get the Bills to the playoffs, they would compete for the Super Bowl, and they would do so with the best defense in the NFL. He leaves town having accomplished none of that, and in fact, may have driven the team further away from being a legitimate playoff contender.
Ryan’s brother, Rob, whom Rex hired at the start of 2016, was also fired. Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will serve as head coach when the Bills close their season Sunday in New York against the Jets.
Pegula released a simple statement that read: “I spoke with Rex earlier today and we mutually agreed that the time to part ways is now. These decisions are never easy. I want to take this opportunity to thank Rex for all his efforts and wish him all the best moving forward. Kim and I and our entire Bills organization share in the same disappointment and frustration as our fans, but we remain committed to our goal of bringing a championship to western New York.”
Ryan leaves town with a 15-16 record, 7-8 this season. After an 0-2 start, Ryan fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman and the Bills reeled off four straight wins with Lynn in that role.
However, offense really wasn’t the problem; it was the Bills defense that continually failed, and that was evident during a killer three-game losing streak that followed. From that point on, the rumors started to swirl about Ryan’s viability beyond 2016, even though he still had three years and $16.5 million remaining on his contract.
When the Bills blew a 24-9 lead in Oakland on Dec. 4, Ryan’s seat began to boil, and when the Bills’ defense was trampled by Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers the following week and Buffalo fell to 6-7 and basically out of the playoff race, there was little doubt that Ryan would be let go at the end of the season.
The timing of the firing, five days before the end of the season, may have been because of Ryan’s statement on Monday that he intended to play quarterback Tyrod Taylor against the Jets. Now that the Bills are out of contention, management is believed to be opposed to playing Taylor due to financial concerns.
There’s a clause in the ill-advised contract extension the team gave Taylor in the summer that states if Taylor suffers an injury in 2016, and is still injured in March when the Bills have to decide whether to pick up an option that guarantees him $27.5 million in salary and bonus in 2017, Taylor would receive all of that money whether he’s on the team or not. And all of it would count against their 2017 salary cap.