Last February, after Bills head coach Rex Ryan hired his wild-haired brother, Rob Ryan, to serve as the team’s assistant head coach/defense, Rex called Rob a “great football coach.” That raised eyebrows considering Rob Ryan previously ran a Saints defense that was on a historically poor pace under his leadership last season, causing head coach Sean Payton to dismiss him in November.
While the Ryans expect their union to produce excellent results, that hasn’t been the case yet. Under the Ryans and coordinator Dennis Thurman, the Bills’ defense has begun the season in less-than-ideal fashion during the club’s 0-2 start. The unit was especially ineffective in a 37-31 loss to the Jets in Week 2, when journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had his way with the Bills in a 24-of-34, 374-yard performance. Running back Matt Forte added another 100 yards rushing in a game that saw Gang Green’s offense total a combined 493 through the air and on the ground. Despite that, Rex Ryan stuck by his brother Monday.
“I think my brother’s done as good a job as anybody coaching in this league, so I think that’s … but I get it,” he said (via ESPN’s Mike Rodak). “That’s always going to be [those questions] out there but hey, it comes with the territory. And now it’s time to move on, I’m focused on Arizona and I better be.”
In fairness to the Ryans, it hasn’t helped their cause that the Bills have been without stellar defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who’s serving a four-game suspension, or two injured rookie linebackers – first-rounder Shaq Lawson and second-rounder Reggie Ragland. Still, there’s nothing to suggest either Ryan has done well atop the Bills’ defense since Rex Ryan’s hiring as their head coach last year. Under previous coordinator Jim Schwartz, Buffalo had an elite-caliber ‘D’ in 2014. Then, with largely the same personnel Schwartz worked with, the Rex Ryan-led group was a below-average one last season. And this year, double the Ryans hasn’t meant double the fun for the Bills, whose defense ranks 21st in scoring and 22nd in yardage.
Rex Ryan fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman on Friday for his side of the ball’s subpar output over the season’s first two weeks, but that type of shakeup isn’t going to come on defense. Now, having lost to the Ravens and Jets over the season’s first two weeks, life isn’t about to get any easier for the Bills. They’re set for a home matchup against the high-powered Cardinals this Sunday, as Rex Ryan mentioned, and will then head to New England to take on the AFC East rival Patriots.
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