The Bills are on the hunt for a new head coach after firing Rex Ryan on Tuesday, but the presence of general manager Doug Whaley is likely to limit their options, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. With Whaley entrenched atop the Bills’ front office, head coaching candidates who want significant say in roster construction might be less inclined to take the job.
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That could include longtime NFL head coach Tom Coughlin, with whom the Bills spoke last offseason about a front office role before he took a position with the league. Coughlin is now a possibility to end up back in Jacksonville – where he coached from 1995-2002 – but Bills owner Terry Pegula is interested in tabbing the two-time Super Bowl winner to succeed Ryan, per Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is also high on the Bills’ list, reports Cole, who adds that the team would want to retain interim head coach Anthony Lynn as its offensive coordinator under either Coughlin or Austin.
Lynn entered the season as the Bills’ running backs coach, but they elevated him to O-coordinator after firing Greg Roman on the heels of an 0-2 start. Buffalo’s Lynn-led attack ranks first in the league in rushing, seventh in scoring, eighth in DVOA and 12th in total offense. Now, given his impressive work this season, it’s possible Lynn is actually the favorite to take over for Ryan on a permanent basis. Whaley “pushed” ownership to place the interim tag on Lynn, tweets the Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci, who wrote last week that Lynn could be primed to grab the reins going forward. Lynn garnered attention from head coach-needy franchises last winter and will again be on teams’ radars this offseason (the Rams are reportedly eyeing him), so the Bills could lose the 47-year-old if they don’t select him as Ryan’s replacement.
As for Ryan, his downfall in Buffalo was his inability to live up to his reputation as a defensive guru. The Bills had a top-tier defense in place when they hired him in advance of the 2015 campaign, but it was a below-average unit in each of his two years with the club. Ryan’s move last January to hire his twin brother, the now-fired Rob Ryan, to team with him and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman didn’t produce positive results. In fact, Bills players told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington that the Ryans lost the defensive portion of the locker room because there were “too many cooks in the kitchen” (Twitter link). Defensive end Leger Douzable took to Twitter to bash Buffalo’s decision to ax Rex Ryan, whom he also played under as a Jet, but star D-tackle Marcell Dareus doesn’t seem too broken up about the coaching change.
While Dareus told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he likes Ryan, the franchise’s highest-paid player explained that the defensive scheme “was just too much detail for a lot of guys, and I feel like for a lot of guys it was too much going on for them to check here and check there, if this happens and that happens. Then nine times out of 10, a team will throw something out there that we weren’t prepared for, and then the adjustment to it, we had to get use to and try to make it happen and make plays.”
The 26-year-old Dareus will be among a few marquee talents the Bills’ next coach inherits (running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins are the others), though the environment “from top to bottom” is “toxic,” relays Carucci (Twitter link). Considering the Bills have gone a league-worst 17 years since their latest playoff trip, that’s not overly surprising.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.