The Buffalo Bills’ season-ending news conference Monday was long on generalities and short on specifics.
For reporters sifting through nearly 45 minutes of comments from General Manager Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan, finding worthwhile nuggets of information was mostly a fruitless endeavor.
There was, however, one particular point that raised eyebrows.
Ryan was asked specifically if defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman would return to the team in the same role next season.
With an opportunity to talk up Thurman given to him on a tee, Ryan refused to swing.
“I don’t want to say anything until we talk to our coaches,” Ryan said. “Some coaches may want to be here, may not want to be here, whatever it is.”
As far as votes of confidence go, that’s not exactly carved out of concrete.
Ryan did confirm that assistant head coach/running backs coach Anthony Lynn will interview for the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching job on Wednesday.
To this point, he’s been the only Bills assistant coach other teams have requested permission to interview for openings.
Toward the end of the 2015 season, Ryan extolled the virtues of the 46-year-old Lynn as a head-coaching candidate.
“He’s got Super Bowl rings as a player. He’s smart. He’s been with me now for seven years,” Ryan said. “He’s a great football coach. And the other thing is, he’s got the respect of all the players. I’ve seen him work with veteran players, young players. It makes no difference. … This guy can coach them all. He can coach the special players, the guys hanging on, developing players, he can coach them all and he’s great for our team. But if he gets that opportunity to become a head coach, that would be awesome.”
Ryan indicated he wouldn’t be surprised if other coaches on his staff got interviews, as well.
“Is there a chance Greg Roman, somebody else, may get opportunities? I hope so,” Ryan said. “That would be fantastic.”
Ryan’s brother, Rob, was fired earlier this season as the New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator. On Monday, the Cleveland Browns fired head coach Mike Pettine, Rex Ryan’s former defensive coordinator with the New York Jets.
Naturally, that has led some to connect the dots that Ryan would want to add one or both of them to his staff in Buffalo.
“There’s going to be a lot of really good coaches out there. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the business,” Ryan said. “I recognize Mike Pettine, my brother, they’re great coaches, but you know, we’re just now going through the process of talking to and evaluating our coaches and how we move forward, so I don’t think it’s fair to comment on other coaches.”
Ryan chuckled when asked if his twin brother would have any objection to having him as a boss.
“He probably would,” Rex Ryan said. “No, I have no idea. I know it was great. He was around for several days and you know he really, really liked the players that we have and sees what we’re building. He’s been around a lot of teams … So I think he was impressed with this organization.”
Ryan said the process of evaluating his current coaching staff will begin Tuesday.
“Like anything else, you evaluate where you’re at,” Ryan said. “You know, what was good, what’s not working, all those types of things.”
Far too often this season, the defense wasn’t working as it’s supposed to, which is why Thurman’s job security is in question.
The Bills dropped to 19th in the NFL in total defense a year after finishing fourth.
“Obviously those numbers aren’t what we wanted in the beginning. Not even close,” Ryan said. “I know one thing: This group will work. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. The continuity, being together for another year, I think’s gonna help. I don’t think there’s any doubt.”