Sunday morning the Bills made the biggest oh wow moment of the year so far by hiring ex-Jets HC Rex Ryan to replace Marrone who bravely ran away on New Years Eve. It shocked mostly everyone as many thought the Bills were leaning towards an offensive minded coach and Rex a shoe in for the Falcons job where there is a really good QB in Matt Ryan . Instead he goes to a very talented defense and an offense that is young and talented at a lot of key positions but they still need a lot of work.
The Bills got the most experienced coaching candidate who is not past his prime (Mike Shannahan) and one of the top defensive minds in the game. He will bring his hybrid defense to Buffalo where in 2013 a similar defense led the Bills to franchise record in sacks and was one of the dominating defenses in everything except stopping the run. The secondary will love the hire especially Stephon Gilmore who will now be allowed to play mostly again and show why he is one of rising stars at cornerback. The defense will be more exotic than what was under Schwartz who for the most part stuck to his base defense and very little blitzes. Plus with a linebacking trio of Kiko, Bradham and Brown, they will be far better against the run than what they were in 2013 (plus Rex won’t be trying to get style points to get a HC job like Pettine was).
However he does have a negative and that he really could care less about offense. His offenses in New York were ground and pound with no semblance of a passing game. He struggled to develop a QB in New York and his QBs had a tendency to be a turnover machine. Part of that is from the GMs who thought drafting defense in the 1st each year was the way to go and really neglected the offense in his last years (Stephen Hill was their highest pick on offense excluding QB). He needs a good offensive coordinator and in Buffalo he hopes Greg Roman is that guy.
When in Rome
Greg Roman has spent the last 4 years in San Francisco being their offensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh. In his 4 years as OC, the Niners offense has been top 10 in rushing each year, being top 5 the past 3 years. The passing game however is in the other extreme and are in bottom part of the NFL, but so is Seattle’s and they seem to be doing just fine. The offense he runs is a rough and tough power run game. He uses multiple TEs, a FB and extra lineman if need be with a lot of pre-snap movement. With the arrival of Colin Kaepernick at QB, he has included some pistol in his offense and read option elements that use his QB’s athletic ability. He uses a lot of different formations but for the most part the offense will be run up the gut and pound the opponent into submission. He uses the run to set up the pass and play-action is something he calls quite frequently to get favorable matchups for his QB. Roman is just the kind of coach Rex wants to implement his run heavy philosophy and Roman has done. There is still the question of his QB development as Kaep regressed this year and really took a step back in his development. Part of that is because of injuries and Jonathan Martin being on the team, but part of it was Roman went pass happy at times when Kaep clearly was not ready for it. That will be something to look at this year.
Overall Rex was the flashy hire the Bills wanted. It got them a media darling and now the media might be able to find Buffalo on a map (though I still doubt it). The defense will yet again be elite and the Bills will have a top 5 run game this year. With 30+ million in cap room and potential for more, I expect the Bills to try hard to sign some ex-Jets particularly Darrelle Revis who Rex really wanted last year but his GM said no. He didn’t fit the Bills need of an offensive minded coach and is probably the opposite of what they really need, but the Bills clearly have an idea of what they want to be, a defensive minded team with a run heavy offense similar to Seattle and San Francisco and clearly Rex is what the Bills looking for to achieve that goal.