Bills replace Karl Dunbar with John Blake

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At a time when it’s still not clear why the Bills decided in the middle of March to get rid of defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, the simple truth could be that coach Rex Ryan parted ways with Dunbar in order to clear a path for his replacement.

Dunbar’s replacement is John Blake, a former defensive line coach with the Cowboys of the 1990s who became the head coach at Oklahoma in 1996. One of Blake’s employees was Rex Ryan, who worked as the Sooners’ defensive coordinator.

“I believe he will do an excellent job in working with the talented players we have at that position,” Ryan said in the press release announcing the move. “John is a heck of a coach who has worked with many outstanding players and made them better. He endured a difficult time in his coaching career a few years back, but has moved forward with his life and put that behind him. Since that time he has worked with a number of NFL players and earned their respect with his ability to hone their skills and techniques. I don’t think you will find better examples of his teaching abilities than the work he has done recently with Jason Pierre-Paul and Jerry Hughes.”

In 2010, the NCAA targeted Blake (who at the time was coaching North Carolina’s defensive line) for allegations that he steered players to agent Gary Wichard. The NCAA eventually imposed a three-year “show cause” sanction on Blake, essentially freezing him out of college football. Earlier this year, Blake was hired by Lamar University to coach the defensive line there.

Whether it’s because Ryan aggressively recruited Blake or Blake decided to return to the NFL, Blake is back — and that could be the best explanation for why Dunbar is gone.