1. You have to give it to Rex Ryan. No one in the NFL -- or sports or, perhaps, the entire world -- does a better job of putting pressure on himself. He knew very well that hiring his twin brother, Rob, to be his assistant head coach/defense would draw the mostly negative/skeptical attention it has so far. It was one thing to hire his brother, a move that automatically raises troubling nepotism flags. It's quite another to hire him after being the coordinator of such an awful defense in New Orleans and with no real track record of success as a coach. And then he does it after the Bills' defense, mainly using the system that he and his brother treat as the Holy Grail, goes from dominant to dysfunctional. But Rex didn't stop there. He parted ways with his defensive backs coach, Donnie Henderson, who did a superb job with the secondary and was highly popular with the members of his position group. Finally (or, at least for the moment) he adds Ed Reed to his staff as an assistant defensive backs coach. Reed is football royalty, one of the greatest safeties in NFL history, but he has never been a coach. And there's the fact that whatever is going to be done to allow the Bills to improve from their disappointing finish in 2015 will primarily be done with the same roster because the team doesn't have the salary cap room to spend much in the offseason.
2. Seeing the Rams leave St. Louis and return to Los Angeles this week has prompted some discussion about how fortunate the Bills are to have owners who won't allow them to play anywhere except Buffalo. It's an understandable perspective. If Terry and Kim Pegula didn't buy the team after Ralph Wilson's passing, the Bills' future in Western New York would have been anyone's best guess -- and probably worst nightmare. The Rams weren't in that position of stability for a long time. From the moment they moved from L.A. to St. Louis, they always seemed destined to return to their previous home because they never really embraced St. Louis. They kept a presence in Los Angeles. They negotiated a lease that gave them all sorts of outs, based on criteria that inevitably wouldn't be met because the Rams didn't want them to be met. They wanted the state-of-the-art showpiece that is going to be built in Inglewood, Calif. I'll go deeper into this in my Inside the NFL column that will be posted Sunday, but suffice it to say that there is nothing in common with the Bills' ownership and the Rams' ownership or in St. Louis' passion for football and Buffalo's passion for football.
3. Keep an eye on Alex Smith Saturday when he leads the Kansas City Chiefs against the New England Patriots in Saturday's divisional-round playoff game. Smith is as good a game-managing quarterback as there is in the NFL. He also happens to be, for all intents and purposes, the only one left in the postseason. All of the other seven quarterbacks left in the tournament fall into the elite or near-elite category. And Smith should give hope to the Bills, because that's what they have when Tyrod Taylor is playing at his best: efficient, resourceful, careful with the ball. Sometimes Taylor is guilty of being too careful when it comes to turning down chances to throw, but it's fair to say that some of that is due to his being a first-year NFL starter looking to do everything possible to hang onto the job for as long as possible. Right now, it's hard to see Taylor ever becoming elite. That seems to be the way the Bills are looking at him, or they wouldn't be taking a wait-and-see approach with a long-term contract offer this year. He'll have the chance to change that opinion, but if he does continue to at least hone his game-management ability, he could very well become what Smith is now -- a quarterback with a chance to help his team reach the doorstep of the Super Bowl.