Rex Ryan is the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills, signing a reported five-year, $27.5 million deal on Monday.
Bills owner, fracking billionaire Terry Pegula, hopes he’s struck oil again.
“Following an extensive search, we are pleased today to announce that Rex Ryan is our new head coach,” Pegula said in a statement. “Rex brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the position that we feel will be a tremendous benefit to our players and the entire Bills organization.”
That “wealth of experience” will only be helpful if Ryan learns from his first head coaching experience with the Jets, and tweaks his approach a little. Hey, Bill Belichick learned from his first, failed head coaching experience with the Cleveland Browns. Pete Carroll was fired twice in the NFL (the Jets and New England Patriots) before getting it right on the pro level with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Jets missed the playoffs in Ryan’s last four years with the team after making the postseason his first two years with the club. Ryan needs to learn from the mistakes that helped contribute to four straight substandard seasons.
As Spanish philosophy George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
If Ryan wants to be successful in Buffalo, he needs to find a quarterback. And if he decides to start the unproven E.J. Manuel, he can’t stick with him too long, and let a season head south, as he did with both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith.
Ryan needs a veteran insurance policy for Manuel, and not stick with the kid to the detriment of the team. A big reason Buffalo’s former coach, Doug Marrone, led the team to a 9-7 record in 2014 was that he pulled the plug quickly on a struggling Manuel, and went with veteran Kyle Orton, who isn’t great but certainly played as an upgrade on Manuel.
Watching Ryan up close for the last six years, it’s clear that he is somewhat non-confrontational with his players and “loyal to the point of defiance,” as former defensive lineman NFL Trevor Pryce put it. He has to get away from the mindset that he can will people into succeeding by having a strong belief in them.
Also, he needs to stop starting rookies before they are ready. With the Jets, he started cornerback Dee Milliner in 2013 and safety Calvin Pryor in 2014 from the get-go. Neither was ready, and it impacted the results of games due to blown coverages.
Ryan must also improve his game management. Hiring a good bench coach to stand next to him during the game would be helpful–don’t hire a friend for that role, but a good clock manager.
Ryan has a brilliant defensive mind and is a terrific motivator. He brings a lot to the table as a coach.
But he needs to learn from some mistakes he made his first go around, like Belichick and Carroll did, in order to take the next step as a head coach and lead the Bills to the promised land.
Dan Leberfeld edits Jets Confidential and writes for Breitbart Sports.