by Mario "Game" Granata
Sounds interesting enough to the average listener, doesn’t it? The Buffalo Bills are yet again in another coaching change, which has left a lot of the Buffalo faithful, scratching their heads over the 18th Head Coach, Rex Ryan. The 2014 Bills had a stellar defense that ranked in the Top 10 in many of the major statistical categories, while their offense was nothing short of a high school team. So why did the Bills go with such a defensive minded coach?
Rex Ryan is an Innovator – The Buffalo Bills in 2013 hired Mike Pettine, a Rex Ryan disciple who is not one to wait for an offense to make mistakes: he is going to force the offense to make one. The Buffalo Bills and their fans, received a much needed ‘shot-in-the-arm’ when Pettine brought his elaborate blitz schemes to One Bills Drive, which resulted in the Bills setting the franchise record for sacks in a season. The familiarity with Pettine probably helped in the picking of Ryan. Sort of like asking fans of the movie Major League who they like better; Wesley Snipes or Omar Epps. The replacement can never match the original.
Ryan will bring his schemes, personnel, and philosophy to a team and a defense that has a collective chip on their shoulders, and as much as they liked the polar opposite of Ryan, Jim Schwartz, they will equally if not more enjoy playing for Ryan. He is an innovator, a motivator, and a guy who comes from the hardest and most critical market in the NFL, New York.
Ryan’s Presence Helps the Offense – Now, I know what you are thinking; how can a defensive minded coach help the offense? Well, with Ryan’s scheme, the Bills will put pressure on the opposing offenses, thus forcing turnovers, and getting extra possessions for the offense. Also, with the addition of Greg Roman from San Francisco, and his philosophy of ‘Ground and Pound’ which fits well with Ryan, and the early success that he enjoyed in New York, in going to two consecutive AFC Championship games.
Roman’s offensive philosophy works well with young quarterbacks, and hopefully the psychological scarring of EJ Manuel from the hands of Doug Marrone wasn’t too great to overcome, and hopefully Roman can make good use, and develop Manuel to be the first round pick that he was projected to be. Relying heavily on the run, and giving Manuel half field reads, will aid in his development, and with Roman running a Pro Style offense, and offense that Manuel ran at Florida State, the learning curve won’t be as steep as everyone expects.
The reunion with Boobie Dixon will help the other running backs in grasping the offense, and Roman, who was able to take a young Colin Kaepernick to the Super Bowl, an hopefully do the same with EJ Manuel, who, I feel, has more upside than Kaepernick. Let us not forget, that Kaepernick didn’t run a Pro Style offense while he was at Nevada, he ran a spread.
Rex Can Weather the Storm – Unlike the thinned skin Marrone, Rex Ryan has been in the fire of the media, and often deflects or makes jokes when shots are thrown at him. This is something that the fan base in Buffalo desperately needs, as the list of coaches that have been in Buffalo haven’t been ones that have had a lot of gumption. Ryan will be bold, he will be brash, and he will make no excuses for his decisions, and will give the Bills an attitude and ‘swagger’ that this team needs.
By playing tough attacking defense, and a run first philosophy, the Bills are going to win some ugly games in 2015, but the key word in that statement is win. Are there some reservations about having a new coaching staff in Buffalo? Sure. But, with all the new pieces that the Bills have personnel-wise and the pieces that are in place, things are looking up for the Bills as they go into the 2015 off-season.