It seemed like a bit of hyperbole in June when Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly told radio host Jim Rome that Rex Ryan would be looking for a new job if he did not lead the Bills to the postseason in 2016. After all, Ryan’s hiring was celebrated in Buffalo, and it was before his second season with the team had even really begun.
Turns out, Kelly probably wasn’t off.
As they enter Saturday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, the Bills are 7-7 and on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. There was a report almost two weeks ago that Ryan’s firing was imminent, but he survived despite the Bills losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers (Buffalo beat the Cleveland Browns in Week 15).
Still, it seems like it’s almost a foregone conclusion at this point. On Tuesday, Ryan answered “no” when asked if he has received any assurances from Bills upper management or ownership about his job security. GM Doug Whaley and owners Terry and Kim Pegula have been noticeably quiet of late.
Not surprisingly for a team that has a .500 record, the Bills are average in a lot of areas: they’re 19th in total offense, 16th in total defense, ninth in points per game scored and tied for 14th in points per game allowed.
The one thing that sticks out? Save for their surprising shutout win over the New England Patriots and their third-string rookie quarterback in Week 4, Buffalo’s wins have come against teams they should beat, at least in theory: the Cardinals, the Rams, the 49ers, the Bengals, the Jaguars and the Browns. As they’ve gone 3-5 over the past eight weeks, the Bills have lost to New England, Miami, Seattle, Oakland and Pittsburgh, all playoff-level teams.
Like Denver’s Wade Phillips, Ryan may be better suited as a coordinator, and there’s no shame in that.
On the Hot Seat
Rex Ryan, Buffalo: Yes, Ryan is a colorful character, and in good times, there might not be a more entertaining coach in the NFL. But assuming Buffalo is shut out of the postseason again, it will mark six years since he led a team to the playoffs; the New York Jets made the postseason in Ryan’s first two years there, with a combined record of 20-12. In the intervening years – four with New York and the last two with Buffalo – his teams are 41-53.
GM Dave Caldwell, Jacksonville: The Jaguars fired Gus Bradley as head coach on Sunday evening, after a late-game meltdown loss in Houston, and in a statement, owner Shad Khan said Caldwell would lead the search for a new coach. But Caldwell hired Bradley. And drafted Blake Bortles. Maybe it’s time for a new GM too?
GM Trent Baalke, San Francisco: In the long and storied history of the San Francisco 49ers, they have never lost 13 straight games. Until last Sunday.
Mike McCoy, San Diego: Sounds like a tough situation all around in San Diego – the team may be on its way out of the city, and as the Chargers lost their third straight last week against the rival Raiders, there were more Oakland fans at Qualcomm Stadium than Chargers.
Seat’s Still Warm
Todd Bowles, New York Jets: The Jets were down just 13-10 at halftime against the Dolphins last week, but fell apart in the second half. Miami, with backup Matt Moore at quarterback, outscored New York 21-3 after the break to put the game out of reach. There weren’t many Jets fans on hand to witness the collapse.