Overreactions are part of the early-season NFL schedule. It happens every year. A team wins its opening game, and some conclude that’s a sign of things to come.
Another team loses in embarrassing fashion, and that represents the end of its season after just one game.
The same can be said about the NFL coaching hot seat. How can we look at the performance of a team in the first two weeks and draw a reasonable conclusion about its head coach?
Well, call it an overreaction or whatever you please, that’s exactly what we are going to do here.
It was fourth down an one with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. The Buffalo Bills had the ball inside New York Jets’ territory. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor inched to the line looking to potentially draw the Jets offside.
It’s something we see on a consistent basis around the NFL. Look for the other team to make a mistake and capitalize off it. In and of itself, this isn’t a bad idea. In fact, the Bills had success doing the exact same thing to Rex Ryan’s former squad last season.
This time, however, New York remained disciplined and did not jump offside. That forced the Bills to use one of their final two timeouts.
Okay, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Common logic would then seem to suggest that Ryan and the Bills would punt in an attempt to pin the Jets deep in their own end. It’s a sound strategy, especially with your team trailing by just six points.
But wait. What happened next is the biggest issue, and something we have seen from Ryan-led squads too many times in the past.
Ryan decided to go for it following the timeout. That’s right, he wasted a valuable timeout in an attempt to draw the defense offside, only to decide against the punt.
It didn’t work. Facing a 10 man box, the Bills ran a straight power run up the middle. It was snuffed out, giving New York the ball at near midfield. A few plays later, Matt Forte would score his third touchdown of the game, icing it in the Jets’ favor.
Immediately after his team’s second consecutive six-point loss, Ryan blasted into its defense.
“I never expected this. You know, the Jets were a much better team than we were today, especially their offense against our defense looked like a mismatch today,” Ryan said in the Bills’ post-game press conference, via the team’s official website. “And you know, you look for a difference in the game, that was the difference in the game.”
So. Let’s get this right. Ryan failed to strategize correctly in-game. Yet another representation of his own inability to perform at a high level in comparison to his counterparts on the other sideline.
He then decided to take it out on the players that went to battle for him. That’s not a united front. That’s not accepting responsibility for your own failures. That’s straw man.
And that’s exactly what Ryan has become in just over a season in Western New York. A straw man.
It started with some curious on-field coaching decisions last season. It continued with some absolutely absurd assumptions about his team’s off-season performance. It then progressed after the team let its top pass rusher leave. And it culminated in the handing over of an important coaching position to his brother, Rob, through a silver spoon.
Even after all this drama occurred, it looked like Ryan had the talent to help Buffalo break a playoff streak that’s existed ever since the Bill Clinton Administration.
Then, came a flurry of suspensions — a clear sign that Ryan’s own house wasn’t in order internally (more on that here).
Is that an overreaction? Maybe. But consider this: Buffalo yielded 37 points, 28 first downs and 493 total yards to the Jets on Thursday night. It did so under the guise of a head coach that’s expected to field a dominant defense. A head coach who had previously been declared to be a defensive wiz.
What happened to that guy? The one who led the New York Jets to multiple AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez as their quarterback. You remember that guy, right? The lovable Rex.
Well, things have certainly changed between then and now. His act is growing tired. His scheme isn’t working. His offense is inept as ever. And his philosophy just isn’t meshing in today’s NFL.
Patience might not be a virtue fans in Western New York can afford. That’s fine. But the brass in Buffalo owes it to the fan base. It owes these fans a fighting chance to root on a decent squad. The longer this organization sticks with Ryan, the longer its delaying the inevitable.
It’s now time for the Bills to send the Ryan brothers packing on their bike. It’s the only thing that can salvage what is already looking like a lost season.