It’s safe to assume that Jim Kelly is the most-popular former member of the Buffalo Bills. The Hall of Fame quarterback led his team to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances and is among the greatest to ever suit up in Western New York.
Kelly’s fight against cancer has also placed him in the public eye as an inspiration to all those who have had to deal with that dreaded disease.
When Kelly speaks up on anything Buffalo Bills related, those close to the organization as well as the fan base will surely listen with open ears.
Talking about Bills head coach Rex Ryan, who is entering his second season with the team, Kelly had nothing but positives to say.
“The bottom line is, I think any coach in the NFL, you don’t win, you’re not going to be around very long. But with Rex, Rex is a great coach. I hope he’s around for 20 years,” Kelly said on The Rich Eisen show this week. “But with our team the last year, probably the last couple years, we’ve had star players, but when most of them are in their getting rehab and they’re not on the field playing, it doesn’t matter who you are, your job is going to be on the line.”
There’s a couple different things to dissect here. First off, in order for Ryan to remain in Buffalo over the long term, he’s going to need to lead the team to its first playoff appearance since the Bill Clinton Administration (1999).
Second, while it does appear Kelly is throwing praise Ryan’s way, the wording of his comments is rather interesting. He knows full well that the NFL is a win-now business. He also points to the continual injury issues the Bills have faced under Kelly.
From Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy to Sammy Watkins a season ago, Buffalo’s top players simply haven’t been able to stay healthy.
Whether that speaks to them merely being injury prone or a larger issue within the Bills organization remains to be seen. What we do know is that coming off an eight-win season, something needs to change within the culture in Buffalo.
So while Kelly and others close to the Bills might have a ton of respect for Ryan, it’s time for him to put up or shut up. That’s the true nature of the beast in today’s NFL.