Bills’ defense has taken a big step back under Rex Ryan

AP

Say what you will for Rex Ryan, but you’ve never been able to say he doesn’t know how to coach an NFL defense. At least not until this year.

This year, Ryan’s first season as head coach of the Bills, his defense has taken an enormous step backward. And in a season when Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has emerged as one of the pleasant surprises in the NFL, Ryan’s defense is the reason the Bills won’t make the playoffs.

When you look at the statistics, it’s stunning how much worse the defense Ryan coaches this year is than the defense he inherited from last year:

This year the Bills have already allowed 301 points in 13 games. Last year the Bills allowed 289 points in 16 games.

This year the Bills rank 20th in the NFL in yards allowed per game, allowing 358.8. Last year the Bills ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per game, at 312.2.

This year the Bills rank 17th in the NFL in yards allowed per play, at 5.5. Last year the Bills ranked third in the NFL in yards allowed per play, at 4.9.

This year the Bills rank 17th in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage, allowing first downs on 39 percent of third-down plays. Last year the Bills ranked first in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage, allowing first downs on 33 percent of third-down plays.

This year the Bills rank 10th in the NFL in defensive passer rating, allowing opposing quarterbacks an average rating of 84.0. Last year the Bills ranked second in the NFL in defensive passer rating, allowing opposing quarterbacks an average rating of 74.5.

This year the Bills rank 30th in the NFL with 19 sacks. Last year the Bills ranked first in the NFL with 54 sacks.

This year the Bills rank 26th in the NFL in allowing long passing plays, giving up 49 passes of 20 yards or longer. Last year the Bills ranked second in the NFL in allowing long passing plays, giving up 36 passes of 20 yards or longer.

We could go on all day with stats like this: Across the board, the Bills’ defense is worse with Ryan than it was before Ryan arrived. Add in the fact that the Jets’ defense has gotten better this season under Todd Bowles than it was last season with Ryan, and the conclusion is clear: Ryan isn’t quite the defensive genius he’s made out to be.

91 responses to “Bills’ defense has taken a big step back under Rex Ryan

  1. It’s possible his recurring headset problems are being triggered by his own coaches so they can try to win some games without him.

  2. The stat total is a key number, they aren’t disrupting the passer like they did last year.

    I really thought that one thing the wind bag that is Rex Ryan could do was put a great defense on the field, but after this year you have to wonder if even that is out of his reach.

  3. With Jets making the playoffs and Bluster not, that is really a showing “tell” on The Buffoon’s résumé.

  4. The funny thing is, youll never hear an honest assessment like this from Mike Schopp or Jeremy White on WGR 550 in Buffalo.

    They support this guy by letting him off the hook and coming up with stats that support him. Local stations that own the rights to broadcast the games can never be trusted.

  5. Not an entirely fair statement

    Ryan’s defense works a lot better when he has corners that can play good man-to-man

    Last year with Jets, the team had injuries and a bad GM. They had no decent CBs so the defense gave up too many big plays. This year the Jets went out and signed many DBs so Bowles could run a scheme similar to rex. And its working better.

    Now with the Bills, the situation is weird–but I would say having their best pass rushers drop into coverage is a bad idea.

    I would say last year Rex was not good at adjusting his defense for the lack of corners. He still blitzed too much. And playing Calvin Pryor as a free safety was a mistake. But injuries were a huge problem.

    This year the Bills have lost Kyle Williams, so factor that in.

  6. As a pats fan I was scared of this signing I thought he would have the same success with this defense as he did in NY when he had a similar talent level however I was very wrong this team should be fighting for the division not on the outside looking in of the playoffs. I have now decided that I was wrong and Rex isn’t the answer for a head coaching job right now maybe in 4 years once he has time to think but he doesn’t need one now. Let me lastly say that if John fox had this team they would be at least the 5 seed right now

  7. Translation: Rex is HORRIBLE! He did the same thing with the jets. He INHERITED a great D with a really solid run game, ran to the afc championship game the first two yrs with a team SOMEONE ELSE built then eventually his changes kicked in and he left the team as a 4 win team. Once again he takes over a GREAT defensive and a solid run game team and he will run it straight into the ground. He has zero skills, schwartz is 100 times better defensive coach. Rex and Rob only get jobs b/c of what their dad did. Rex only has a job b/c his loud mouth- look at production and he shouldnt coach in the NFL.

  8. I will be the first to say Rex has underachieved dramatically considering the talent on the Bills D, but to call him out on last years Jets D isn’t fair. The talent Bowles has on both sides of the ball is light years ahead of what Rex was working with last year (Fitz, Marshall, Revis, Cromarie, Scrivens)

  9. Knucklehead tough guy talk with no follow through on the field, mind blowing, idiotic personal fouls and taunting penalties at the worst time, “it’s on me” press conferences explaining unbelievably poor performances, no accountability for bad play on the part of highly paid players, anemic offensive performance despite good talent at skill positions, making a mockery of the captaincy of his team by sending out ironic representation for the coin flips, and last but not least, poor defensive play with the numbers to back up a huge year over year regression. Bills fan, this is the face of your franchise now. Hard to fathom the spike in season ticket sales after Rex was hired when you consider that this is exactly how it all ended in New York at Rex’s first head coaching gig.

  10. *gasp* What a surprise! I think I will die from the surprise…

    To be honest – I never thought of Coach Ryan as a “defensive genius” even when the Pegulas were discussing hiring him. Some really offensively terrible Bills teams beat Ryan defenses…

    But I didn’t think the fall off would be QUITE this bad. Yeesh.

    It’s sad when I have to say “I miss Jim Schwartz…”
    *sigh*

  11. After Rex accepted the Buffalo job, I remember some commentator suggesting that it might be a mistake for Rex to jump back into the AFC East division so soon. Makes sense now — Buffalo will have to win out just to equal the record of last year’s team. A loosey goosey coaching style may be great for some players, but it doesn’t seem to translate into a winning program.

  12. I called this as a bad hire from the moment they hired him.

    The guy got fired from his last job for a reason. He’s not a good coach.

  13. Nobody should be surprised by this. Rex walked into a top 5 defense, and turned it into a very average D.
    He is way overrated as a defensive genuis, and his head coaching ability, especially some of the head scratching in game decisions that he makes, is laughable.

  14. As usual, this buffoon couldn’t back up his “bully” prediction. No discipline. No accountability. Once again he put his foot in his mouth. He will forever be known as a buffoon.

  15. The most depressing thing for Rexy is that when he converts everything from yards to feet, the statistics are even worse.

  16. He’s starting to become a coach similar to his brother. Totally overrated!!!!
    _________

    Starting? He’s been that way for some time now.

  17. It’s no small FEET to take a step back like that. The Ryan Bros & Brandon & Whaley sure can put on a good show. Cue the Entry of The Gladiators music.

  18. The Jets defenses fell apart when Pettine left. Dennis Thurman was raised on Tom Landry’s Bend But Don’t Break, when it was easier for defenses to manhandle offenses. Times have changed and now he just calls a soft game.

  19. hamlet423 says:
    Dec 16, 2015 9:56 AM
    Not an entirely fair statement
    Ryan’s defense works a lot better when he has corners that can play good man-to-man.

    ——————————————————–

    Not an entirely rational statement.
    ANY defensive coordinators defense works a lot better when he has corners that can play good man-to-man.

  20. So much for being the bully !!!!! Once again Rex writes checks that his team cant cash…..and its December and looks whos set up for another post season run…….THE PATRIOTS……..rex …rex….rex……..

  21. No. The fact is Rex is just not an NFL head coach in today’s league.

    Case in point – His obsession with “ground and pound” with the Jets and Bills. That might have been viable 30 years ago but that kind of offense has no place in today’s league. And yet he kept insisting on putting that kind of offense out there.

    But with that said I still think he has a lot to offer purely as a defensive coordinator. Maybe when the Bills fire him he’ll go back to what he does best.

  22. Ryan is a good x and o defensive strategy guy.

    It is when he gets out of the meeting room that his weaknesses manifest.

    He lacks discipline, and his teams mirror that, hence their lack of success.

    I have yet to find a team that Rex can’t make worse.

  23. Rex seems like a great guy to have a beer with…I have many friends like that..I don’t want them coaching my team.

  24. There’s no excuse for why the Bills D is worse than it was a year ago. The amount of talent on that side of the ball has only gotten better with the drafting of Ronald Darby and the retention of most, if not all, key players with the exception of Alonso. But seeing as he was hurt last year and the Bills D was still great, it didn’t matter. I understand that they switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4. but how does it change so drastically as to take a top defense and make it very average? No excuses here for Ryan.

  25. Thank you MDS for saying what should have been said years ago about Rex. Writers like Peter King fawn over this guy, defend him as a coach and gloss over the statistics you point out. Simply put he can only coach when someone else has set the player table for him. From there it’s all downhill.

  26. Ryan’s not coordinator, right? Mmmkay. Let’s give him at least a second year.

    Yes. They’re horrible on defense. But the important thing is they found a QB. THAT is typically the hard part. I’m pretty sure Rex can turn around a defense faster than it usually takes teams to find a QB to build around.

  27. Maybe he’s just trying to tee up the idea of needing to bring brother Rob on as defensive coordinator. Then he could spend all is time mouthing off as Head Coach. Now what a circus that would be! A great new act for the reality show that the NFL is becoming with the Chief Clown at the helm in headquarters.

  28. Doesn’t it usually take more than 13 games for a coach to put his stamp on the team? I know he is easy to pile on, but I think he probably deserves at least more than one season…

  29. Well, why does this surprise anyone? Rex sells himself not as a logical and thoughtful guy, but as a bully that you’ll like as a regular guy. He’s no Bill Belichick; he just keeps promising people he will beat Bill. It is an empty promise.

    It reminds me of the political arena. I watched a bunch of blowhards last night, including a woman, try to sell themselves to the American people by telling them they would bully and kill any and all adversaries of the United States. Russia was an ally of ours in WW II. We have spent the better part of 70 years working to avoid a nuclear war with them. Despite those facts, these clowns with no experience commanding any military action want to play chicken with the Russians.

    The fat guy from New Jersey, who thinks he’s Tony Soprano, is just a more obnoxious version of Rex Ryan. Which Republican candidate reminds you of Bill Bellichick and not Rex? Alas, I don’g think he was on the stage at the Venetian last night.

  30. The real question now is how much of a factor was Doug Marrone in terms of effectiveness as a head coach. He had the team on the upswing when he opted out of his deal. Maybe the Pagulas should have stepped and paid the man who had the team moving in the right direction. Now, it looks as if Marrone’s bold move will pay off. There will be several HC vacancies and Marrone will get one and the Bills are stuck with the blowhard and that undisciplined madness of a sideshow he brings.

  31. His concepts are outdated, his management style is to be the players’ buddy, he instills no discipline, and the results are hardly surprising to anyone who has seen the last few years in NY.

    I guess Pegula missed all that.

  32. don’t see any of those Playoff predictions that were flowing from Bill’s fans during the preseason and first part of the regular season…oh, well…the Christmas you get you deserve…

  33. Ryan’s defense is the reason the Bills won’t make the playoffs.
    …………………
    Let’s not leave out an insistence by Greg Roman to dial up 50/50 deep balls on third and short, consistently killing drives and offensive momentum.

  34. I am not defending Rex as a head coach but his corners in Buffalo (and in NY the last couple of years) aren’t what he had before that. Great corners go a long way towards bumping a D’s numbers in this pass happy age. A new system is also bound to see some speed bumps along the way as well.

    That said you can throw the logic of those statements out the window where Rex is concerned. A steady diet of excuses, hype and buffoonery can make a D fat, dumb and happy with itself instead of hungry. Witness Marcell Dareus’ recent comments about buying into the hype.

    Rex is going to be entertaining, if not informative, as a member of the media.

  35. So what would people say if the Bills were 13-0 Rex your my hero…Rome wasn’t built in a day see what next yr brings then call the guy out….Rex ain’t out on the field when guys are missing tackles, jumping off sides…

  36. Are they still “the team nobody will want to face in the playoffs?”
    Every person connected with the Buffalo Bills has been crazily overrated this year.

  37. Rex was a foolish hire by the Bills ownership. His teams are emotional and undisciplined, just like Rex.

    It’s like no one remembered what happened to the Jets when Rex was there – no offense to speak of, and a deteriorating defense. He started off OK, but when Mangini’s guys were gone, there went the team. Looks like the same in Buffalo.

  38. Our front 4 are pass-rushers NOT meant to sit back in coverage. We don’t need safety blitzes to pressure the quarterback.

    Rex is good for the Team though. No one else had balls to stand up for Buffalo (Jauron, Malarky, Marrone, Chan Gailey). He is trying to be too complex with his D scheme, bot what our Line was built for.

  39. Rex runs a 34 blitz heavy scheme where tight man to man coverage mitigates those quick blitz beater routes and the QB gets swallowed up, throws it away quickly or makes a bad throw. He took over a team geared for 43 with more zone defense then man skills. The DL and LBs all had to learn a new way to play. The necessary skills sets and interaction are different. Expecting them to continue at their previous high level while overhauling the basic schemes was absurd.

  40. Rex works betters when he has corners like Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie, safeties like Ed Reed, linebackers like Ray Lewis/David Harris, defensive ends like Wilkerson/Richardson, defensive tackles like Haloti Ngata and edge rushers like Terrell Suggs. It’s your team’s fault if they can’t provide those kind of players.

  41. Rex’s defense is all about him trying to confuse the QB and longer before the snap. With the personnel in buffalo that’s not necessary and it’s honestly a disservice to those guys. You want those guys working the same player all game long, make it a chess match that they can win. When you’re constantly blitzing and moving guys around as long as the line schemes right they’ll pick up the blitz because the dlinemen are limited to one gap. Last year in Schwartz system these guys could rush wherever they wanted most of the time and call their own line stunts and everything. I just don’t think rex knows how to coach with extra defenders in coverage. He really screwed that up this year.

  42. FinFan68 says:
    Dec 16, 2015 11:23 AM
    Rex runs a 34 blitz heavy scheme where tight man to man coverage mitigates those quick blitz beater routes and the QB gets swallowed up, throws it away quickly or makes a bad throw. He took over a team geared for 43 with more zone defense then man skills. The DL and LBs all had to learn a new way to play. The necessary skills sets and interaction are different. Expecting them to continue at their previous high level while overhauling the basic schemes was absurd.
    …………………
    All that has merit- but my response is this. Either A) if he’s truly a defensive genius, he should be able to adjust to his players and not be bogged down by his scheme and B) if that’s the case, ownership and GM should have done some research on who the best fit for their team is.

  43. FinFan68 says:
    Dec 16, 2015 11:23 AM

    Expecting them to continue at their previous high level while overhauling the basic schemes was absurd.
    ————————————————————
    Cool. So they’ll be a “nightmare to play against” and have the “#1 or #2 defense” next year?

  44. rrhess1529 says:
    Dec 16, 2015 11:01 AM
    .Rex ain’t out on the field when guys are missing tackles, jumping off sides…
    ……………..
    No he’s not, but discipline and tackling are 2 things you can go over in practice and should take ownership of as a coach, are they not?

  45. bobC927 says:
    Dec 16, 2015 10:59 AM
    Jets in, Bills out. Enough said.
    …………..
    Jets arent in anything yet. And they have a tough road to get there before they are.

  46. I’ve been telling everyone for 3 years how over-rated Rex Ryan is as a HC and a DC. Go back and watch his Jets defenses. They consistently gave up long drives which often cost them games.

    Ryan has fooled the media because of his big mouth. But he can’t fool real football fans and he can’t fool his opponents. They know he is nothing more than a big windbag.

    Bills fans, I hate to tell you this, but you were duped, too. And having him as your HC will set the Bills back for years.
    Look at the Jets. They’re way better without him than they were with him.

  47. It wasn’t going to work. The Bills had built a great 4-3 defense; Rex wants to run a 3-4. So the first thing he did when he got there was tear down the best part of their team. You should have been able to see this coming from a mile away.

    Also, when Rex went from the Jets to the Bills, the Jets got better and the Bills got worse. Coincidence?

  48. In a small defense of Rex, (very small), last year’s team went through the season fairly healthy, especially on defense. The loss of Kyle and Aaron Williams really hurt in the long run, as well as the regression of Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown. And, as stated previously, Rex is a 3-4 guy, while this defense was built to be 4-3. Still, there is no excuse, given the talent level, to slip so far over one year.

  49. As previous poster’s have stated, Wreck’s defensive schemes are outdated. Like his brother Rob-boy, they keep trying to “invent” a new defense (trying to duplicate the ole’ man, Buddy, with his 46 defense for the Bears) instead of just playing solid defensive schemes. The gadgetry will obviously work occasionally but opponents focus more today on a team’s weaknesses than their own strengths on both sides of the ball. I despise the Pat’s and everything they stand for but admire their approach to each game. Say what you want about Belichek, I am totally baffled why the other 31 NFL teams do not follow his strategy. He simply takes away the other teams best offensive weapon(s) and takes advantage of their defensive weaknesses…..it’s not rocket science. He may have the best QB in the league but if the opponent has a bad rush defense, he’ll run the ball down their throat with no-name RB’s etc. Every team has a weakness on offense and defense that can be exploited and this is what Belichek does best.

  50. i see u guys must employ the short bus for writers. how do u compare last years jets d to this years?? revis and cro and skryne are better than anyone they had last year

  51. IMHO a team with a lot of penalties is a poorly coached team. This team is full of penalties and are stepping on their own toes all the time.

    I think the Bills regressed under Rex. This team was loaded with the exception of a quality QB, ditto Rams, Houston, Miami.

    Dump Rex and get a real coach who can oversee the operation and let the O and D coach do their thing. Too much Rex in this mix

  52. .
    Totally true… I thought the Bills defense was going to be lights out this year under Rexy… but they got way way worse.
    It makes no sense… all he had to do was leave it alone and BAM…

  53. When’s the last time a “players” coach won anything? It’s like having a teacher who lets you good off then expecting high test scores. Aint gonna happen. The Bills and Buffalo deserve much better than this clown.

  54. The Bills fans were sold an empty bill of goods by the PR machine hyped up by Rex. All talk and no action. You’d think the Bills would have looked at the dumpster fire Rex left the Jets and greeted him with skepticism. Instead they opened their wallets and threw money at this huckster televangelist.

  55. FinFan68 says:
    Dec 16, 2015 11:23 AM
    Rex runs a 34 blitz heavy scheme where tight man to man coverage mitigates those quick blitz beater routes and the QB gets swallowed up, throws it away quickly or makes a bad throw. He took over a team geared for 43 with more zone defense then man skills. The DL and LBs all had to learn a new way to play. The necessary skills sets and interaction are different. Expecting them to continue at their previous high level while overhauling the basic schemes was absurd.
    …….
    .
    Thoughtful and well reasoned post, FinFan68
    Rex was handed a top-5 defense and was given freedom to add players
    to make it even better. (Ronald Darby has been a revelation for them.)
    So it’s confounding why a so-called defensive genius would choose to
    radically change the basic scheme for which these players were hand-picked
    to play, and were already immersed in. Rather than adapt and embrace a
    proven system that works, and is already in place. Doing so gets away from
    the fundamental strengths of his players, and takes away any edge they had
    over the opposition.

    For a man who grew up on the knees of a defensive guru, it’s
    troubling that he wouldn’t, or couldn’t adapt his style to fit his players.
    Whether it’s pride or stubbornness, choosing a radical change in defensive
    philosophy, over continuity and consistency, is foolish.
    It will set the Bills back, and robs their star players of time they could be
    playing at their peak level.

    In a similar situation, Mike Tomlin’s best decision ever was to stick
    with LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme, even though Tomlin was a Tampa-2 guy.

  56. While Rex Ryan has definitely had a negative effect on this defense, if Tyrod Taylor (offense) doesn’t throw a pick at the beginning of the 2 minute drill at end of Eagles game or hit on ANY of those 5-6 deep balls in which he missed wide open receivers (or if he wasn’t 0-4 in game winning drive situations in which the franchise qbs shine) , the bills are in the midst of the playoff race for the 3rd time in 16 seasons and this article is never written, at least not yet…

    P.s As a Bills I can tell you that Rex defense wasn’t so much bad as it was inconsistent. Did you know the bills held the pats to the least # of points in any game this season? That’s WITH Gronk. The problem is that after that game he went right back to constantly dropping DE’s into coverage against the Chiefs costing the bills a game that they had complete control of throughout first half. Inconsistent.

  57. ReligionIsForIdiots says:Dec 16, 2015 11:25 AM

    For all you idiots criticizing Rex, the players aren’t fit to run his scheme.

    Blame goes both ways. You have one trick pony players, and a head coach who is too stubborn to change his ways.

    —-

    You can say that, and it’s true to a point, but look at Ryan’s ability as an HC with the Jets.

    His best years were when he inherited Mangini’s team. By the third year when it was his team, they did consistently worse each year.

    As one of the many who thought this might be his and the Bills breakout year, I’m coming to the realization that maybe we all fell for his bluster a little bit too much and he just isn’t HC material right now. I think another stint as DC somewhere with a good offensive mind he can learn from would help.

    And he really does have to be more of an authority figure than a friendly guy to the players. That style of leadership just doesn’t work for very long. Not in an organization with the kind of egos that professional sports players require to keep pushing themselves. Eventually (faster this time then with the Jets it seems) he’ll get walked over by the players. No respect, no authority, lost team.

  58. I was wrong

    Rex has some good defensive ideas

    But a good coach takes the talent he has and makes the scheme functional.

    A bad coach imposes his system on talent, whether or not it works, and then gets new players when it doesn’t. With the Salary cap its much more difficult to replace players suit your defensive scheme.

    Todd Bowles had tons of injuries on the Arizona team last year, but found ways to work with what he had to field a functional defense. A good DC can work with what they have to field a functional unit. Rex has not been successful in doing that. That should tell you something.

    Last year Rex ryan lost his best cornerbacks and was lost. He played a great strong safety at free safety, still called too many aggressive blitzes and gave up tons of huge plays.

    He has tons of defensive talent on the Bills and still is making them play 3-4 instead of 4-3. Dropping Marcel Dareus or Mario Williams into coverage? He is forcing a 4-3 team into a 3-4 and its not working. And he is not adapting to that.

    I’m not sure if Dennis Thurman is a good DC without rex. Mike Pettine maybe, although Pettine wasn’t so great with the Jets. Called an all out blitz that lead to A tebow game winning touchdown and costing the Jets the playoffs one year. And sadly extending the saga of tim tebow by one more game.

  59. back2ebayy says:
    Dec 16, 2015 1:48 PM
    While Rex Ryan has definitely had a negative effect on this defense, if Tyrod Taylor (offense) doesn’t throw a pick at the beginning of the 2 minute drill at end of Eagles game or hit on ANY of those 5-6 deep balls in which he missed wide open receivers (or if he wasn’t 0-4 in game winning drive situations in which the franchise qbs shine) , the bills are in the midst of the playoff race for the 3rd time in 16 seasons and this article is never written, at least not yet…

    —————————————————–
    …if Russell Wilson doesn’t throw that INT. in last years SB…if Tom Brady doesn’t throw a pick six vs. Denver…if Andy Dalton doesn’t break thumb…if,if,if.

  60. Well Rex was right about one thing. All the teams they played against this year were so frightened to play against them in the playoffs that they banded together and beat the Bills during regular season. That was some scared opponents right there. Rex is a genius after all.

  61. All I can say is Amen brother well said. If the Bills could have kept Marrone there’s no telling what they may have done this year. It sort of makes you sick!

  62. So glad to see this article. The local sports radio keeps defending Ryan – saying Bills fans were foolish to expect the Defense to be that good again. They also try to point out that the D isn’t that bad. They are horrible compared to last year. I totally agree with the points about a good coach plays to his player’s strengths, not forcing them into a scheme they are not suited for. The guy is just a bad head coach. Poor clock management, horrible penalties. Just a waste of a talented roster.

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