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Vic Carucci's Bills Wake-up Call: Rob Ryan can coach

You mention the name and eyes often roll.

You point out that underneath all of that long white hair is a pretty impressive football mind and there’s a reluctance, if not downright refusal, to accept that at face value.

I’ll say it again: Rob Ryan is a good coach and the Buffalo Bills are benefiting greatly from the fact he’s on their staff.

I know. You can’t get past those flowing locks or the big belly. You can’t get past the struggles of the defenses he ran elsewhere in the NFL. You can’t get past the fact he’s the head coach’s twin brother and the assumption Rex Ryan simply gave a job to Rob when no one else would.

Here’s some advice: Get past them and get over it. Rob Ryan can coach.

He has played a significant role in a three-game winning streak that has been largely driven by a defense that ranks second in the NFL with 11 takeaways and has repeatedly come up with timely stops.

Ask several members of the Bills’ defense, and they will tell you how much of a difference the assistant head coach/defense has made in their ability to perform at a much higher level than a year ago. They will talk about his emphasis on “situational football,” something Rob learned while working as an assistant for Bill Belichick in New England. They will tell you how well he is able to explain their assignments and teach techniques. They will tell you that unlike coaches who study an opponent’s previous three or four games, he will go back 16 games.

It is no coincidence that the Bills are doing an excellent job with their red-zone defense, as was the case again Sunday when they limited the Los Angeles Rams to one touchdown and three field goals in their four trips inside the Bills’ 20-yard line.

As Nickell Robey-Coleman pointed out, Rob Ryan makes a point of devoting time each day in practice and the meeting room to red-zone defense. Not a segment on Friday, which is commonly done throughout the league, but every single day. Besides sharpening the players’ skills, the approach goes a long way towards reminding them of the importance of keeping the opponent out of the end zone. If they can’t score, they can’t beat you.

For the most part, the Bills’ defense lacked discipline last year. Besides many of the silly penalties it would take, it also wasn’t all that attentive to details. Rex talked about his scheme and its long history of success as if that, alone, would be enough to make it work.

But the defense needed something else. It needed to be coached much better.

Rob Ryan is providing a good deal of that coaching.

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