At this point, Rex Ryan can do little more than shake hands with his players and thank the Bills for putting $27.5 million in his pocket before heading for the door. Owners Terry and Kim Pegula have decided to fire their head coach. It’s no longer a question of whether Ryan will get the heave ho, but when.
Reports circulating Sunday that he would be sent packing Monday were consistent with talk swirling around the organization in recent days. Once source said the Bills would have actually finished the season with four straight victories and a 10-6 record, and he still would have been canned. It's time end the misery for everyone.
The Steelers’ 27-20 victory Sunday at New Era Field figured to only speed up the inevitable for Ryan, who is now five games under .500 as a head coach. He rallied the masses while running his mouth about his defense and insisting the Bills would ground-and-pound their way to success. The Steelers showed him how it’s done.
It was fitting, indeed.
Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, who was thrust into the role of calling plays after Greg Roman was fired in Week Three, will serve as the interim coach and will likely be offered the job next season. He has been a finalist for several coaching positions and impressed the Pegulas with his work this season.
GM Doug Whaley will remain in his post. He and Ryan had a fractured relationship during their short time together. Whaley believed he assembled a roster that should have produced better results. The defense in particular has been a disappointment under Ryan, who supposedly was a defensive whiz.
Ryan’s teams were marked by a general lack of discipline, which was a clear sign he ran a loose ship. They crumbled under pressure. His overall incompetence encouraged the Pegulas to make a change.
Among the final straws was Ryan not knowing, and later failing to communicate, tight end Charles Clay’s plans to stay home from Oakland for the birth of his child.
Ryan’s biggest crime, however, was being a phony. In Buffalo, it’s a felony punishable until eternity. People around here take pride in their honesty, in some cases brutal honesty. Ryan provided endless drivel. He spewed nonsense when he arrived and never really stopped.
The Bills have no intentions of bringing back quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who signed a five-year contract extension worth $90 million during training camp. The Bills had escape clauses after the first and second years of the new deal. It would cost them $27.5 million to keep him for next season alone.
So here we go again, with another coaching change and another chapter in their long and fruitless search for a franchise quarterback. They’re headed for a 17th consecutive season in which they missed the playoffs. The names have changed numerous times over the years, but the results are basically the same.
Lynn could be a fine decision, but it’s difficult to have faith in him when you have little faith in people who are making the decisions. President Russ Brandon had has a hand in every major decision during the playoff drought. Whaley has several poor personnel decisions on his record.
With reports flying before the game that Ryan could be fired as early as Monday, the Bills didn’t exactly rally around their embattled coach. The Steelers bullied – remember that word? – the Bills all afternoon on both sides of the ball and handed Buffalo its second straight defeat. The game wasn't nearly as close as the score indicated.
The Steelers were sloppy against a sloppier Buffalo team in sloppy conditions before asserting themselves early in the third quarter. They inserted an extra tackle along the offensive line and manhandled the Bills’ front seven while running the ball down their collective throats.
Le’Veon Bell carried the ball seven straight times and eight in all during a nine-play drive that ended with him waltzing into the end zone for a 21-7 lead. Bell finished with a career-high 236 yards rushing, and 298 yards from scrimmage, both the most ever against a Buffalo defense. Bell also had three touchdowns in his fourth straight 100-yard game.
At times, he brought new meaning to “carrying the defense.”
Pittsburgh had 195 yards when Bell gave the Steelers a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. At that point, Buffalo had minus-1 total yards. The Bills were a team going backward in another season gone awry. Taylor was sacked three times and had minus-14 passing yards before he completed his first pass in the second quarter. And then he was sacked again. Ben Roethlisberger actually had more completions to the Bills than Taylor had after his second interception in the second quarter.