The Bills have fired coach Rex Ryan after another disappointing season. Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will serve as interim head coach.
Lynn will also get a shot to replace Ryan full time.
Anthony Lynn takes over as interim head coach, a move strongly supported by the front office. He'll have a chance to keep the job— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 27, 2016
Rob Ryan, the team's assistant head coach and Ryan's twin brother, was also fired.
"I spoke with Rex earlier today and we mutually agreed that the time to part ways is now," Bills owner Terry Pegula said in a statement. "These decisions are never easy. I want to take this opportunity to thank Rex for all his efforts and wish him all the best moving forward. Kim and I and our entire Bills organization share in the same disappointment and frustration as our fans, but we remain committed to our goal of bringing a championship to Western New York."
Rex Ryan, who was hired in January 2015, leaves Buffalo with a 15-16 record and failed to get the team to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. He arrived in town with much of the swagger we saw early in his coaching career with the Jets, where he led New York to back-to-back AFC title game appearances before four straight mediocre-or-worse campaigns led to his demise following the 2014 season.
The Bills hired Ryan a short time later, and the promises of success soon followed.
"I'm going to be myself, and this is the direction that we're going to take," Ryan said shortly after he was named the Bills coach. "Be true to yourself, and that's exactly what I'm going to be.
"I think I've got to put everything in. Just like [Buffalo fans] put everything in, I'm putting every single thing that I have into coaching this football team. That's it for me. This'll be my last shot. I don't care if I'm young, whatever. It makes no difference. Every ounce of my energy will be to build this team. And the great thing is, it's not like I'm building this by myself. I've got some great people around me with the same direction, and that's why I'm so confident."
In January 2016, in an effort to improve on his 8-8 debut, Ryan added Rob Ryan to the coaching staff. Predictably, there was plenty of skepticism that two Ryans would be better than one when it came to winning football, particularly since Rob had flamed out as the Saints defensive coordinator last season, and that he was mostly mediocre in that role with the Raiders, Browns and Cowboys.
But general manager Doug Whaley tried to make the case that Rob would be good for Rex.
"If you look at it, Rob and Rex, they've had some troubles," Whaley said at the time, via the Buffalo News. "Their name is kind of like, 'Hey, they're the Ryans, what happened to their defense?' So why not bring in your brother and try to reclaim that name? That's the way I look at it. And who's going to have your back more than your brother? I think it's a positive. I know it's a positive. Everybody in the building feels it's a positive. It's a positive for Rex, too. It can help him expand his horizons as the head coach and get into some other things."
Clearly, that didn't happen. The Bills' defense currently ranks 24th, according to Football Outsiders' metrics, which is where the unit finished in 2015. For some perspective on the Ryans' impact, Buffalo's defense ranked second in 2014.
Outside of New England, there hasn't been much stability in Buffalo or the rest of the AFC East. Behold:
AFC East head coaches since 2000. pic.twitter.com/TZfZ6VKbQF— Christopher Price (@cpriceNFL) December 27, 2016
Incidentally, the Bills' last winning season came under Doug Marrone in 2014, a year before Ryan arrived.
As for Ryan's future, he'll likely have little trouble finding work as a defensive coordinator. That said, he claimed that Buffalo would be his last coaching stop, though he certainly expected his tenure to last more than two seasons.
"This is it. This is my last stop. This is it for me," he said in January 2015. "The last team I'll ever coach will be the Buffalo Bills, and I hope it's 15 years from now."