It’s been said that the now defunct Cleveland Stadium was the “Mistake by the Lake,” because of cold winds, hot nights and economic problems among many other things. However, I think the Buffalo Bills are trying to become the new Mistake by the Lake.
On January 11, 2015 they signed former Jets coach Rex Ryan to be their new head coach in what I knew would be a horrible move. The Bills were coming off a season in which their defense was a top 5 unit and the offense only needed a few upgrades in order to compete in the New England dominated AFC East.
Ryan immediately liquidated Jim Schwartz and took over as head defensive man which would prove to be a mistake. The only saving grace for what would be a tumultuous season was the offense came along through Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins.
As I’ve chronicled, the Bills “D” turned itself into a penalty-ridden unit that didn’t do much in stopping teams or helping itself. It reminded me of the Jets defenses under Ryan before he was let go by New York. Those Jets teams were sloppy, willing to give up yardage for personal fouls and mouthy. They reminded me of the coach, what I couldn’t understand was how he kept the job for so long. Was there never a better option?
As the 2015 season went on you could see the Bills defense crumble and hear the rumbling from the players. Mario Williams has long complained about Ryan’s schemes for months and I can understand. Williams under Schwartz had 14.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl. Prior to Ryan signing up with Bills, Williams had 91.0 sacks, he was a dominate force when he was allowed to rush the quarterback. But that’s not what Ryan wanted him to do, instead he wanted him to drop back in coverage. By the end of this season he had 5.0 sacks because Ryan forced him to drop back in coverage. Why would you handcuff a guy that can get to the quarterback like this? It makes no sense. But this is just one guy.
Corey Graham said they were confused many times, Preston Brown said the calls weren’t coming in on time and these are just a few of them. I’m certain that there are others who feel the same way. The frustration mounted by the end of the season, it’s no wonder the penalties mounted. I’d be frustrated too going from a top notch defense to a bogus defense.
As the NFL Wild Card weekend finished up it’s final game, the talk should have been on Vontaze Burfict’s terrible hit, Adam Jones’ dumb penalty and Blair Walsh’s unfortunate missed field goal but the Buffalo Bills announced the Rex Ryan was getting his brother to come in as an assistant head coach/defense whatever that means.
This is the same Rob Ryan that was fired midway through the season by the Saints because the defense was ranked last in the league. The same Rob Ryan that struggled to make the Cowboys defense competent, never getting them in the top ten in points allowed per game or yards allowed per game and in 2012 ranking 16 in sacks. You can pretty much guarantee that Mario Williams won’t be a Bill next year.
I’m not a huge fan of this 3-4 nonsense. When Mario Williams was allowed to rush the passer and be at his best this defense was firing, the Bills aren’t built at the moment to be what Ryan thinks he’s going to turn it into. In fact, I don’t believe even if given time he’s going to bring in people that can turn it into a good defense because between the two of them, they are bumbling idiots. I’m not sure how Rex was able to convince GM Doug Whaley and Bills owner Terry Pegula this was a good idea, but I have had just about enough.
In the first game against the Patriots you saw the Rex Ryan influence right away; the chirping, the penalties for personal fouls, the dumb plays. It was everything that this team wasn’t the year before. For all that Doug Marone was, he wasn’t a guy that was a talker and he wasn’t a guy who tried to run his mouth about other teams or tried to stick it to other teams. When the Bills went on the field they played the game and they didn’t try to yap at other players. Suddenly the “yap factor” came into play. Against the Giants, I could see it with Beckham and they let him get into their heads too.
It’s going to be this way until Ryan is gone unfortunately. Both Ryans. Because since Cleveland has torn down Cleveland Stadium, the Buffalo Bills are the new Mistake by the Lake. The hiring of Rex Ryan one year, followed by the hiring of Rob Ryan has morphed the Bills into a laughing stock. Even four consecutive Super Bowl losses couldn’t make me embarrassed to be a Bills fan, but now I am. Hopefully they get what they want, even if Ryan leads them to a Super Bowl I won’t be celebrating, I can’t follow this team, if he’s right I’ll gladly be wrong.