There was a little bit of awkwardness when the Bills hired Rex Ryan two seasons ago. It was even more awkward when he brought in his brother Rob to coordinate his defense. It felt very “Hey, lets get back at the Jets.”-ish from the Ryan’s and from the Bills front office.
Both are at fault after the Ryan’s firings, and the benching of quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
I’ve never totally been sold on Rex as a coach. I think he’s always been destined to be a good defensive coordinator, but not a head coach. For Rex to be a head coach, he’d have to have developed talent offensively, and a good QB. That has not been the case in New York and Buffalo.
Its bit him in the butt, to be fair. But, if you’re the Bills, why hire Ryan two years ago when your defense is already good, and the offense is the weaker part of the team?
From the beginning, it seemed as if Ryan was destined to fail in Buffalo.
The Bills have struggled this year because of a tough schedule and a bad defense. They’re only bad loss was to the Jets in Week 2, which was the first sign of this defense combusting as they allowed Matt Forte to run for three touchdowns on them. Besides the Week 2 loss, their defeats have made sense. Oakland, New England, and Seattle have all beat up on the Bills this season. Those are games you can’t exactly expect to win.
Where the Ryans are at fault is losing this defense. The Bills defense should be much better than 24th in DVOA with the talent they have. It really seemed as if the defense quit on the Ryans. Players have spoken out about its complexity since Ryan’s firing, and have been pretty blunt about the fact that Rex and Rob really did lose the locker room.
So, where is this not Rex’s fault?
He’s never been an offensive coach, and while the Bills have LeSean McCoy (who’s had an awesome season), this offense has struggled to be elite the past two years. If I’m running Buffalo, I’m okay with that. Tyrod Taylor is still developing, and the Bills receivers were really banged up this year. Its not like our defense had our back either.
The problem is that the Bills front office isn’t okay with that. They clearly thought this was a playoff team, and firing Rex and benching Taylor is the consequences of them not being one.
I disagree with that thinking. Taylor has been awesome the past two seasons. He’s not throwing for 35 touchdowns right now; he may not ever. But he’s accurate and is quite a playmaker. He’s the type of quarterback that can’t do it by himself. The Bills have to get more than Sammy Watkins around him. He needs good receivers. Blockers? Not so much. Taylor’s had some incredible runs this season. I don’t think its a stretch to say that he’s one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the league.
And now there’s a good chance he’s gonna be a free agent this offseason.
The Bills are calling this a “business decision” because Taylor has this weird $30 million (!!!) contract guarantee for next season thats only enacted if he is hurt. With the recent rash of quarterback injuries, the Bills have decided to not risk it with Taylor. This looks great if you’re running the team, but it doesn’t take someone too smart to see the smokescreen.
Taylor has a team option for next season too. If they exercise it, he’s locked into a six year, $92 million contract, essentially the going rate for franchise quarterbacks. If they don’t exercise it, he’s a free agent, and the Bills are looking for their QB of the future.
Benching Taylor isn’t about the contract guarantee. Its about scouting E.J. Manuel (puke) one last time, and seeing whether he could the guy next season.
Bottom line: It seems as if there was a feud in the Bills HQ over Taylor. Ryan was for him, the front office wasn’t.
Thats how we ended up here.
So yeah, the Bills were partly right in firing Rex Ryan (and Rob!), but the reason they were wrong in doing it could be the one to bite them later on.