Opinion: How we’d fix the Buffalo Bills
Let’s just admit that most of us who are Buffalo Bills fans were excited by the addition of Rex Ryan. But we were blind in our admiration. He’s a likable guy, the guy you’d want to hang out and drink a few beers with while talking football. But what he makes up for in personality he lacks in leadership. Now we know why Jets fans were not sad to see him go. And this morning they are even happier considering how their team almost handed the Patriots their first loss.
The Buffalo Bills are not a good team. They are stacked with good players, but they are led by a coaching staff that does not match their level. We might have hated Doug Marrone’s lack of personality and inability to fire his buddy who ran the offense, but at least he got the most out of a team run by a subpar quarterback. Rex Ryan was handed a major upgrade in talent but has since delivered a team that would get its a$$ handed to them if they played the 2014 Buffalo Bills.
Marrone lost the Bills organization because of his terrible offense, Rex has lost them because of his terrible defense (among other things). It’s ironic considering those were the strengths of both of those coaches.
Okay, enough rambling. How would we fix it?
1. Fire Dennis Thurman.
This is the no-brainer of no-brainers. Rex Ryan doesn’t escape blame for Thurman’s coaching performance, but this might save some face for Ryan if he shows he is willing to do anything necessary to make his team better. This two-headed defensive coaching monster’s desire to just force their system on the Buffalo Bills proves they are not as smart as they think. The Bills defense was better in 2014 under Schwartz than 2013 under Pettine’s system (essentially Rex Ryan’s defensive system).
Their complete lack of learning to adapt has proven to be an epic failure. They have stubbornly continued to try and make it work. It defies logic. The Buffalo Bills defense is mediocre and currently ranked 18th with what might be an upgrade if you consider the addition of Darby. Fire Thurman and go to #2.
2. Beg Jim Schwartz to come back.
The defense loved this guy. He made them rock stars. Schwartz completely baffled one of the NFL’s smartest quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers while Thomas/Ryan made Blake Bortles look like Aaron Rodgers.
3. Pull players who commit a penalty.
Let them sit until they realize how much they are hurting the team. And make it variable based on the type of penalty. Jerry Hughes is a beast, but he is also a liability. He’s given up more yardage on personal fouls than he has taken away from the defense on lost yardage. The penalties are inexcusable and it all comes from Rex Ryan’s lack of discipline. You have to wonder what the difference has been with Ryan as a coach considering in 2012 the Jets committed the fourth least penalties in the NFL. This has never been a major issue with Ryan as a coach.
4. Cut EJ Manuel.
You want to send a message. Well, if you suck you get cut. Do you want proof of just how bad Manuel is then cut him and watch as no one picks the kid up. He’s proven to be a completely failure. All we hear about is how he worked on his technique all summer with Steve DeBerg, a career backup player. It isn’t just Manuel’s technique that is the problem, his inability to make his reads and look off defenders is Quarterbacking 101.
Oh, and just in case you are wondering about how good of a quarterback Steve DeBerg was:
QB Rating: 74.2
DeBerg: The definition of mediocrity
Finally, injuries have not done the Buffalo Bills any favors. In my opinion, Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley should be on a short leash. Whaley has done some great and not so great things, but in general it seems he has put together a solid, talented football team. But his biggest fireable offense is probably EJ Manual and hiring Rex Ryan. He put a team together that would have any coach salivating, but he didn’t put the right guy in there to lead them. That is on the GM.
Rex Ryan will get his players back healthy at some point this season but if they continue to fail and end with a losing record he should be sent packing. The lifespan on the star players on the roster is not four years (the length of Ryan’s contract after this year), it’s 2-3 and the Bills need a coach who can maximize the talent.