Seventeen straight years – that’s how long the Buffalo Bills’ NFL longest playoff drought has now been extended following a largely disappointing 2016 season that saw the end of Rex Ryan’s tenure as head coach. This section of our yearly review of the Bills’ season deals with management and coaching, and the fact that Ryan and his brother Rob were both jettisoned tells the tale of another head coaching failure in Buffalo. Despite a constant coaching carousel not being a good thing, Ryan deserved to go. In his final game as coach, the team displayed the same negative attributes that marked his two year regime – undisciplined play, unforced penalties, poor time management, confusion on play calls and personnel, and just disorganization in general. If I’m Bills’ owners Terry and Kim Pegula, the play in overtime that sealed the win for Miami, Jay Ajai’s long run on which the Bills had only 10 men on the field, is evidence enough to relieve him of his duties. Add in the defensive meltdowns in Miami and Oakland that cost the team valuable wins and there is no way Ryan, a supposed defensive genius, should keep his job. He never managed to fix any of the problems that plagued the team from day one of his regime. The defensive players vowed they would play hard to try to save Ryan’s job, yet the lack of effort and poor tackling in some of the team’s heart-breaking losses this year was pathetic. Critics can say the lack of continuity is the reason for the Bills’ problems, but when continuity equals mediocrity it’s time to make changes.
General manager Doug Whaley has apparently survived to pick the new coach and run another draft, and in my mind he deserves to stay, but the players he has drafted and signed need to reverse the regression they showed under Ryan when a new coach takes over, in order for him to stick around after 2017. The Pegulas gave Ryan all of the resources he could ask for to turn this team into a winner, including a bloated 29 person coaching staff, and he couldn’t get the job done. It’s time for Whaley to find a competent head coach, not just a carnival barker, to lead this team. Any coach who claims he needs a five year rebuilding plan should be eliminated from consideration. All this team needs is a real leader who will demand accountability from his players and who has some semblance of organizational skills.