Rex Ryan was fired just before noon Tuesday, but the decision was made several weeks ago. Ownership was leaning toward dumping Rex going into the Oakland game and was convinced after yet another Buffalo collapse. Even if the Bills won their final four games and finished 10-6, playoffs or not, he was gone.
Ryan’s record was a problem but not the biggest problem. He was one game under .500 before he was sent on his way, giving him the highest winning percentage among Bills head coaches since Wade Phillips. The primary issue with him was his overall incompetence, especially when it came to his defense.
He came aboard proclaiming his defensive genius and pleaded with desperate Bills fans to climb aboard the Rex Express. In fact, many did. He was new and exciting and bold and funny. All the things people despised about Rex during his days with the Jets became attractive when he took over the Bills.
Rex turned the Bills into a national story and made them relevant again before coaching his first game. He sold hope. He sold tickets. He also sold the idea that he would bring the Bills back to prominence. He sold himself to gullible owners and top advisors Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley, who served their own agendas.
In essence, he sold acres upon acres of swampland for $27.5 million in one of the biggest heists in recent memory. Ryan ran his mouth so much that you wondered if he realized, or cared about, the need to back up his words. The results quickly showed that he was bluster and nothing more.
Ryan ruined a defense that was ranked in the Top 5 under Doug Marrone and his former defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. Ryan admitted he was behind the times against offenses that had become increasingly more complex. On Saturday, when his defense failed miserably yet again, he talked about offenses being better than ever.
All along, he didn’t realize that he repeatedly committed crime against the region. He took Buffalo as a bunch of bumpkins that he could win over with his personality. He didn’t realize until it was too late that the warm people who celebrated his arrival would turn on him once they realized they had been taken for a ride.
Rex never understood that humility and honesty work best in Buffalo, and they were two qualities he had in short supply. The perception of him quickly changed. The same man who was initially praised for being bold was viewed a braggart. The confidence he showed without merit turned him into a con man.
Buffalo came to see him as a buffoon.
The Pegulas made the right decision to fire Ryan and his brother, Rob, his top consiglieri when it came to coaching defense. The two entered the world together, so it seemed fitting they’ll leave town together. But it shouldn’t end with Brothers Ryan being shown the door. If the Bills are ever going to end their playoff drought, they need to clean the swamp.