The Buffalo Bills fired Rex Ryan after a second straight mediocre season, leading many to comment about what went wrong during his tenure. One such person is Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who had an interesting take on Ryan’s defensive strategy.
Speaking with Josina Anderson of ESPN, Dareus first started by wishing Ryan and his brother, Rob Ryan, well as they move on and said he never likes seeing anyone get fired. Then he got into the meat and potatoes of his thoughts on Ryan’s scheme.
“I feel like we should’ve been just more aggressive on defense…because that’s the kind of players that we have. We want to put our foot on the pedal and keep it down knowing what we’re doing, and being strategic on what we’re doing. Not trying to matchup with this team, or that team. We want to have our identity (knowing) this is who we are, and what we’re going to do.
“It was just too much detail for a lot of guys, and I feel like for a lot of guys it was too much going on for them to check here and check there, if this happens and that happens. Then nine times out of ten, a team will throw something out there that we weren’t prepared for, and then the adjustment to it, we had to get use to and try to make it happen and make plays.”
Essentially, Dareus is saying Ryan’s scheme was too complicated. That it resulted in players having to think too much before and during plays, meaning they weren’t able to play fast and loose. This isn’t a whole lot different than what ex-Bills lineman Mario Williams, who lamented the way Ryan’s defense was run in Buffalo before he ended up in Miami (more on that here).
No doubt, it takes special players to execute and lead a complex defense such as the one Ryan features. He had these types of legendary players during his stops in Baltimore and in New York.
But the Bills never did embrace Ryan’s vision fully, and the results speak for themselves. The past couple of years Buffalo featured a mediocre defense that showed up big some weeks and fell apart just as often, leading to a 15-16 record for Ryan during his tenure with the club.