Rob Ryan

Staff Notes: Bills, Taylor, 49ers, Ryan, Eagles

Another former Panthers assistant will land a job on the Bills‘ coaching staff. Buffalo hired Ken Dorsey to be its quarterbacks coach. A former Miami Hurricane standout, prior to his days with the 49ers and Browns, Dorsey spent five seasons as the Panthers’ QBs coach. In 2018, the 37-year-old coach was on Appalachian State’s staff. Dorsey will take over for David Culley, who is now on Baltimore’s staff. The Bills also promoted Chad Hall to wide receivers coach. The 32-year-old former NFLer spent his first two seasons in coaching as a Bills offensive assistant. Another hire the Bills announced this week: bringing in Terry Heffernan to be their assistant offensive line coach. Heffernan has NFL coaching experience, being a Lions staffer earlier this decade, but spent the past three years at Division I-FCS Eastern Kentucky. Heffernan coached under new Bills offensive line coach Bobby Johnson in Detroit.

None of the offensive coaches who have been hired or promoted have a direct tie to second-year OC Brian Daboll, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. Here is the latest from the coaching carousel:

  • Two teams have yet to hire their head coaches, but the Bengals will look to finalize their agreement with Zac Taylor soon after Super Bowl LIII. The Rams’ quarterbacks coach will travel to Cincinnati on Monday, with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweeting the parties will make their pending partnership official.
  • Rob Ryan initiated the process that ended with him becoming the Redskins‘ new inside linebackers coach. The former defensive coordinator said Kirk Olivadotti‘s decision to take a job with the Packers prompted him to reach out to the Redskins about a job, Ryan said on NBC Sports Washington‘s Redskins Talk podcast. Ryan interviewed with the Redskins twice in the past but has never worked with the franchise.
  • Kyle Shanahan was a bit surprised teams aggressively pursued members of his coaching staff, considering the 49ers went 4-12 this season. “It was a little unexpected,” Shanahan said during an interview with KNBR (via NBC Sports Bay Area). “I didn’t think our staff was going to get raided after a 4-12 year, so that caught me off a little bit.” The Broncos did the main raiding, hiring Rich Scangarello and T.C. McCartney. The Packers also hired Adam Stenavich to become their offensive line coach. Shanahan also denied permission for the Vikings and Packers to interview Mike LaFleur and did not allow Mike McDaniel to speak with the Cardinals, citing neither offensive assistant being up for a play-calling role with one of those teams.
  • San Francisco also lost another assistant, but this time to the college ranks. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will become the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
  • The Eagles will swap out assistant offensive line coaches. After Eugene Chung‘s contract expired, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro notes the Eagles will hire Roy Istvan to replace him. Istvan will come all the way up from the NAIA level, having coached most recently at Florida’s Keiser University. However, he spent time with Philadelphia offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland in the distant past, playing for Stoutland at Southern Connecticut in the 1980s and then breaking into coaching during Stoutland’s stay as that program’s OC. This will be Istvan’s first NFL job.

Redskins Hire Rob Ryan

The Redskins hired longtime defensive coordinator Rob Ryan as their new inside linebackers coach, according to a team announcement. Ryan last served as the Bills’ assistant head coach (defense) in 2016 and is now set to enter his 20th season as an NFL coach. 

Before hooking on with the Bills, Ryan served as the DC for the Saints (2013-15), Cowboys (2011-12), Browns (2009-10) and Raiders (2004-08). He found success with the Saints early on, leading their defensive unit to Top 5 rankings in points allowed and passing defense in 2013. Things unraveled a bit afterwards, but Ryan remains a respected defensive mind.

Clearly, the ILB coach role is a step down from where Ryan has been in the past, but this could be an opportunity for him to springboard into a larger role. For now, he’ll work under Greg Manusky, who was retained as DC after some flirtations with outside candidates this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Contracts, CBA, Broncos, Bears, Rob Ryan, Browns, Packers

We’ve been hearing for the past few months that both the NFL and NFLPA think there are increasingly high odds of a lockout during the next round of CBA negotiations, and we got even more confirmation of that today. The NFL is gearing up for a fight, and with coaches who signed contracts this year, “teams are addressing how much each coach would make — or lose — in the event of a work stoppage” sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

Sources told Schefter that “both teams and coaches are confident that there will be some type of disruption, and one of the first signs of it is showing up in the language of coaches’ contracts.” The league is widely seen to have won the last round of negotiations over players, and the players’ union will be looking for a lot more from the league in the next round. Owners might not be willing to budge, and it sounds like a lengthy lockout is a very real possibility in 2021.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • The Broncos are reportedly targeting Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell to join Vic Fangio’s staff, and Donatell might not be the only assistant Chicago loses to Denver. The Broncos are “bringing in Bears OLB coach Brandon Staley” for an interview Monday, according to Mike Klis of 9News Denver (Twitter link). It sounds like Fangio is interested in bringing over as many of his assistants from Chicago as possible.
  • With Chuck Pagano now in charge of the Bears’ defense, the team wasn’t planning on bringing back Staley anyway, according to Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune. A source told Briggs that Rob Ryan, the former Saints defensive coordinator and brother of Rex Ryan, could be brought in to replace Staley. Ryan is a big personality and it would certainly be an entertaining hire if nothing else.
  • Freddie Kitchens has added another member to his inaugural Browns staff. Cleveland is hiring Packers offensive line coach James Campen as their associate head coach and offensive line coach, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN (Twitter link). Campen was the longest tenured coach on the Packers’ staff, and had been there even before Mike McCarthy took over as head coach.

Redskins Meet With Rob Ryan For DC Job

Rob Ryan‘s tenure with the Bills lasted less than one season, but he will have a chance to join the Redskins’ staff. Washington added the brash veteran to the list of defensive coordinator interviews, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets.

He joined Gus Bradley and Mike Pettine on the Redskins’ DC interview list, one that did not include Wade Phillips despite the teams being connected. Nor did it include Bengals DC Paul Guenther, whom the team requested permission to interview. Ryan certainly qualifies as a big name, even if his recent jobs did not end well.

This is the first interview opportunity for Ryan as he attempts to rebound from a Buffalo experiment gone awry. The Bills fired both of the Ryan brothers, with Rob making it just 15 games compared to Rex‘s 31 with the franchise. It marked the second straight year the veteran DC failed to finish with his employer, with the Saints relieving Ryan of his duties during a historically bad 2015 campaign.

Rob Ryan has officially served as the DC for four teams, but his role with the Bills — while not given that title — included similar responsibilities. Buffalo finished 19th in total defense for a second straight season.

The Redskins are still seeking to fill the spot made available by the team axing Joe Barry, and the search is coming up on the two-week mark.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Rex Ryan’s Firing

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.

Tom Coughlin[RELATED: Bills to bench Tyrod Taylor]

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.

Rex Ryan

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.

Bills Fire Rex Ryan

The Bills are not waiting for the season to end to make a head coaching change. Rex Ryan has been let go and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will take over as the interim head coach. Rob Ryan (assistant head coach/defense) has also been relieved of his duties. Rex Ryan (Featured)

I spoke with Rex earlier today and we mutually agreed that the time to part ways is now. These decisions are never easy. I want to take this opportunity to thank Rex for all his efforts and wish him all the best moving forward,” owner Terry Pegula said in a statement. “Kim and I and our entire Bills organization share in the same disappointment and frustration as our fans, but we remain committed to our goal of bringing a championship to Western New York.”

Rex Ryan was not given a third year to turn things around in Buffalo despite finishing with a .500 record in his first year and guiding the team to a 7-8 mark so far this season. The Bills will not qualify for the playoffs for the 17th straight season and the organization is not willing to take the patient approach any longer.

Lynn has gone from running backs coach to offensive coordinator to head coach in just three months. His first promotion came when Greg Roman was forced out earlier this year and he’ll now get to audition for the team’s permanent role. Reportedly, the Bills wanted to push Ryan out in part because of their desire to retain Lynn. Lynn has long been identified as a strong head coaching candidate for this offseason.

There are conflicting reports regarding GM Doug Whaley’s job security. A little over a week ago, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported that Whaley is not in jeopardy of getting fired. However, over the weekend, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe said that his status “remains up in the air.”

As of this writing, there are now three teams that will be looking for head coaches in the New Year: the Rams, Jaguars, and Bills.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rex Ryan Defends Rob Ryan

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.

Rob Ryan (vertical)[RELATED: Latest On Bills’ Offense]

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Bears, Rams, Saints

Bears edge rusher Willie Young acknowledged Wednesday that there have been contract extension talks between him and the team, saying (via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com), “Yeah, there has been some stuff mentioned here and there, but that’s something that will be left up to my agent so I don’t get caught in the middle of it.” As of earlier this month, Young was reportedly “50/50” on whether to accept a two-year offer from the Bears. Chicago is trying to keep the soon-to-be 31-year-old after he amassed a combined 16.5 sacks during his first two seasons in the Windy City, and he’s open to spending the rest of his career there. “I would like to finish my career up here in Chicago, but you know that’s not up to me; that’s up to my agent and management,” said Young, who will hit the open market next offseason if a deal isn’t reached by then.

More from the NFC:

  • Free agent safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner remain “in play” for the Rams, tweets Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News. If the Rams sign either, it won’t occur until after OTAs because the team wants to evaluate its in-house options, Bonsignore adds (Twitter link). Los Angeles hosted Whitner, a three-time Pro Bowler, in early April. Goldson, who has two Pro Bowl selections under his belt, met with the club earlier this month. PFR’s Dallas Robinson ranks Whitner as the best defensive free agent on the market.
  • Fellow free agent safety Roman Harper could rejoin the Saints, per FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez (via Twitter). Harper, whom the Saints took in the second round of the 2006 draft, spent his first eight seasons in New Orleans before signing with the division-rival Panthers in 2014. The 33-year-old proved to have a fair amount left in the tank last season for the NFC champions, starting all 19 of their games (playoffs included) while grading 53rd out of 89 qualifying safeties at Pro Football Focus.
  • Ex-Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who coached Harper in 2013, spoke negatively last week of his time on New Orleans’ staff. One of Ryan’s former pupils, now-Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, backed Ryan’s claim that the coordinator wasn’t running his own scheme during his final two years with the Saints. “Not to talk about New Orleans for the rest of this interview, but as a player in that system, you can see when power is taken away from a guy,” Hicks said Wednesday, per Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. “It was evident in that situation and you saw what the turnout was because of it.” Hicks also praised Ryan as a person, stating, “I didn’t see the interview, but I do know this, I’ll forever and always have a lot of love for Rob Ryan, just because there’s nobody that’s going to shoot you straighter.”

Ryan Bros. On Bills, Saints, Pats, M. Williams

Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB.com had a rather entertaining interview with Bills head coach Rex Ryan and brother Rob Ryan, who’s in his first year as the team’s assistant head coach/defense. Their discussion is certainly worth a full read, but we’ll round up some of the highlights from the braggadocious bros.

Rex Ryan on Rob Ryan:

“Nobody grinds the way Rob does. Bill Belichick hired Rob for one reason: He knew he was a freaking great football coach, and he could grind. That’s it. If you are going to be with Bill Belichick, you better be a grinder.”

“He sleeps here half the week, in his office, in the offseason. Honest to God.”

“I brought in a real football coach. Not a 9-to-5er, a real football coach whose life and passion is the NFL. The name Ryan means something. If you are a fan of the Buffalo Bills, thank your lucky stars he is here, and myself. To me, that’s what we added to this team. When we talk about “all in,” we’re going to do everything we can in our power to help our players succeed. And that’s why we made some of the changes that we made.”

Rob Ryan on why he joined the Bills’ staff:

“I am used to picking my spots, but this time, I had one choice. When I was fired by the Saints, I came here to look at it. Rex loves this team, he brags about this team, so I wanted to be around it. After I did that, for one week, I was like, Damn, I’ve got Rob Ryan to be here. I don’t care who was going to offer me a job. I wanted to be a part of this. Rex brought me in, because of nepotism … (pause) … and I’m glad he did.”

“To be the best defensive coach in football, I’ve got to learn from the best, so I came here. It’s been how many years since we’ve been together? He’s not learning anything, but I am. Look at some of his protégés. Bob Sutton is doing a fantastic job in Kansas City. Chuck Pagano was with Rex. He spun off a ton of great coaches, and it is going to be fun to be a part of that.”

Rob Ryan on his nearly three-year tenure as the Saints’ defensive coordinator:

“I need to be in a multiple system. I was hired to be in a multiple system in New Orleans, and I did a damn good job and got fired for it.”

“I have coordinated in college and in the pros. And the biggest history of improvement ever in the league, I coordinated that defense [the 2013 Saints]. The defenses I have taken over were ranked, like, 31st. Oh, “my numbers aren’t too good.” You take over the 31st group and see how you do. And you’re given about two years to do it. There are two years that don’t have my signature on them, and it’s the last two years in New Orleans. And that’s just the truth.”

[Note: Saints head coach Sean Payton responded by shooting down the notion that the team’s defense didn’t have Ryan’s fingerprints on it.]

“All of a sudden, we let some good players go; we changed the system after we finished fourth in the league in defense.”

“The biggest mistake I think I made in New Orleans was sitting on my hands and collecting a paycheck, instead of going in, knowing it was wrong and fixing it. When we wanted to change the philosophy of the defense, I should have.”

“They signed players; they signed a free-agent free safety [Jairus Byrd in 2014], and said, we are going to keep him in the middle of the field like the goalpost. Well, that’s great. He’s not going to make one play back there, and now we have changed the entire defense for one signing, and it ruined us. He’s a great kid. But the truth of the matter is, you let an All-Pro safety walk, Malcolm Jenkins, and lost your two best leaders on the team, him and Roman Harper. We changed the entire style of play. It was strange. But hey, I did the best job I could. And it wasn’t good enough. They should have fired me. They probably should have fired everybody that made that decision to go in that direction. Now I’m going to move my whole family over here to Buffalo for a reason: to go kick everybody’s ass, including theirs.”

“But at the end of the day, the last two years in New Orleans were a waste of time for me.”

Rex Ryan on the Bills’ 2015 defense, which dropped to 19th from fourth under Jim Schwartz the previous season, and whether a rebound is on the way:

Rex Ryan“I screwed up, and that’s totally on me. So if people lost a little faith in it, or whatever, I can understand. I should be doubted, because I made a mistake in judgment. But just go back and look at the history. You are going to get the real deal this year, and we’ll see how it goes. I know how it has gone my whole career.”

“This was the first time in my life I have ever come into a situation where the defense got worse. And so that was odd. That was different. No excuses. But I’ll stand by my record; I’ll stand by everything I have ever done in this league statistically. Put the numbers up. Do you want to look at one year, or a 15-year window? I specifically said I probably shouldn’t have tried to combine systems last year. I should have just gone for it, this is it, blunt-force trauma, and bring in some players that knew the system and can help run it.”

Rex Ryan on defensive end Mario Williams, who was unhappy in Ryan’s scheme last season and got his release in March:

“Now look, with some of the comments [he made], do I wish him well? Not really. But, he’s on Miami. If he would have gone somewhere else, maybe. He’s a good kid, but I am used to some mean motherf—ers that play out there. The Terrell Suggs, Jarrett Johnsons of the world. I screwed them, too; I had them drop [into coverage], too. Not one of them bitched. Von Miller [dropped into coverage] in the Super Bowl. Why? Because that’s what’s asked of him; that’s what his job is. Your job is to play. Coaches spend a hell of a lot more time studying tape and everything else. They are trying to put the team in the best position to be successful, not an individual.”

Rob Ryan on the AFC East rival Patriots:

“But I know one thing, we are going to beat them. We are together, we’re going to beat the best. It’s two against one. [Belichick] one on one against any coach in the league, that guy is pretty damn good. And he’s also got his best buddy Tom Brady with him. He trained him, and he single-handedly made him great as well.”

“Bring Belichick on. We got him.”

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Lions, Lynch, Saints, Cowboys

As Lions OTAs continue, the shadow of Calvin Johnson looms large. How long did it take quarterback Matthew Stafford to get used to life without Megatron?

Apparently, a lot quicker than you guys,” he said to reporters (link via The Associated Press).

The Lions signed Marvin Jones in free agency and he’ll likely be their No. 2 option at wide receiver behind Golden Tate. They Lions also picked up Jeremy Kerley in the offseason to add some depth to the position and possibly take the role of punt returner off Tate’s plate. The Lions still have plenty of passing options – including tight ends Eric Ebron and Brandon Pettigrew – but it remains to be seen whether they can collectively fill the void left by Johnson’s retirement.

More from the NFC:

  • There was a report Wednesday offering conflicting viewpoints from those close to Marshawn Lynch on whether the four-time Pro Bowl running back will actually finalize his retirement. Now Seahawks receiver and longtime Lynch teammate Doug Baldwin has become the latest to weigh in, telling SiriusXM NFL Radio, “I’m most certain that he’s not coming back” (Twitter link).
  • Former Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan claims that he he did not have a full say in how their defense was run, but coach Sean Payton dismissed that notion in an interview on Thursday night. “We tried to implement some schemes we thought would help our defense,” Payton said (link via The Times-Picayune). “But the idea that it wasn’t his defense, or that he wasn’t, you know, in charge of it, is silly.”
  • The Cowboys have gotten inquiries from teams interested in their running backs, but they don’t plan on dealing any of them, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones.“We got calls during the draft asking to trade for some of our running backs. We just don’t have that interest,” he said Thursday (link via Katie Halropoulos of the Dallas Morning News). In addition to fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys have Darren MacFadden – who ran for 1,000-plus yards last year – as well as three-time 1,000-yard rusher Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar as credible options out of the backfield.

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.