The Bills fired head coach Rex Ryan Tuesday morning after being eliminated from playoff contention for the 17th consecutive season.
Ryan's ultimate downfall was his defense. He said in his introductory press conference that having the NFL's fourth-ranked defense in 2014 was "probably a little disappointing, to be honest with you, because that’s not where my expectations are. I know we’ll lead the league in defense."
Instead, the defense went backward under Ryan. His run defense was especially poor this season, allowing three separate 200-yard individual rushing performances, which only two other teams in NFL history had done before.
As you can see in the chart below, the Bills defense regressed in every category after Ryan replaced Doug Marrone two years ago. The two most important stats, total yards allowed and points allowed, have the thickest lines.
The chart goes back to 2010, when Chan Gailey took over as head coach. Marrone coached the 2013 and 2014 seasons – the best years on the chart – and Ryan coached in 2015 and 2016.
The Bills planned to get to the playoffs under Ryan with strong defense and capable offense. The offense more than held up its end of the bargain, ranking seventh in points scored this year and 12th last year, but the defense very clearly let the team down.
The more I think about Saturday's loss to the Dolphins, Ryan's last stand truly was trusting his broken defense one last time by punting on a fourth and 2 late in overtime. Jay Ajayi gained 57 yards on Miami's first play while Ryan's defense had yet another communication issue and only put 10 players on the field. Andrew Franks kicked the winning field goal shortly after.