Death Of A Salesman: The Fall of Rex Ryan

Rex Ryan constantly wrote checks his coaching couldn't cash. (Getty Images)

Rex Ryan constantly wrote checks his coaching couldn’t cash. (Getty Images)

– Evan Sally

Rex Ryan’s tenure with the Buffalo Bills started loud and ended with a whimper.

The man who boldly told Bills fans to “get ready because we’re going (to the playoffs)” had been transformed into the haggard and beaten down man we saw following perhaps the most crushing loss of Rex’s time here, Saturday against Miami. He changed from a man who purported to have all of the answers to a man who was desperately searching for answers of his own. However, not everything changed about Rex during the two year whirlwind he spun through One Bills Drive. From his first day in charge of the Bills to his very last, Rex was always a salesman. And for a while he was pretty good at it too, selling his team and himself, the Rex Ryan brand. Through the previous 17 years of the drought the Bills have had coaches of all types, from the faux intellectuals like Gregg Williams, to the hypocritical disciplinarians like Doug Marrone, to the kindly grandfather who just couldn’t handle it like Chan Gailey, we’ve seen the entire spectrum covered. From Rex’s opening press conference on, I saw Rex’s bombastic personality as refreshing, as breathing life into a moribund franchise. However for many the tough talk was off-putting from a guy who hadn’t accomplished what he had promised yet. After a middling first season both sides of the Rex debate had ammunition. His much ballyhooed defense disappointed in 2015 but Rex was given credit for identifying Tyrod Taylor, the most exciting Bills quarterback in years. You have to take the good with the bad sometimes and plus there’s that whole continuity thing Bills fans are so fond of referring to. So fans and upper management were patient and gave him another chance.

With another season to prepare for, Rex Ryan the salesman whirred into full gear, this time with the full backing of Buffalo Bills Entertainment. After hiring his brother Rob, a two part mini series “Rex and Rob, Reunited” hit the airwaves. Add that to commercials and tandem bike rides with his brother, the mystique of Rex only grew; the mystique he would later be crushed under. As the drum beat got louder about Rex’s firing over the past few weeks something that fascinated me was how a coach that has been this relatively “successful” in Buffalo had become so toxic. Rex leaves the organization with a record of 15-16, the best winning percentage for a Bills coach in 15 years. That record isn’t good but it’s by no means bad. Rex’s problem from the outset here in Buffalo was that he constantly wrote checks that his coaching ability couldn’t cash. He said that the 4th ranked defense that he inherited wasn’t good enough. His defense after having 2 years to implement his scheme ranks 15th in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed this season. Rex promised playoffs and in both seasons the Bills were eliminated before Week 17. Rex promised a Bills team that was bold and full of bravado like him and on 4th and 2 with the season on the line in overtime against Miami, he meekly punted the ball away. Rex over promised and under delivered. He was overexposed. He rubbed people the wrong way. Rex the Salesman got Rex the Coach fired. And now they’re both gone.

evan sally– Evan Sally (@Evan_Sally)

 

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