Bills fire Rex and Rob Ryan, bench Tyrod Taylor; Anthony Lynn becomes interim coach

The Buffalo Bills made the decision many saw coming. Rex Ryan has been fired as head coach just prior to the season finale, the team announced early Tuesday. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan also has been let go.

Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has been named interim head coach. Lynn replaced offensive coordinator Greg Roman in Week 3 and could be a candidate to replace Rex Ryan full time after the season.

Saturday’s mistake-laden overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins might have been the final straw. The defense had only 10 men on the field on Jay Ajayi’s 57-yard run, and Ryan referred to it as “as painful of a loss as I can remember.” The Bills also punted from midfield in overtime, in a game they trailed by two touchdowns late in the third quarter.

But Ryan’s termination appeared to be in the works for some time. Owners Terry and Kim Pegula were said to want to lean in a different direction for a head coach, and Terry Pegula issued a statement shortly after the firing was announced.

General manager Doug Whaley had been mostly mum on Rex Ryan’s future in recent weeks, which was another sign his future was bleak. Ryan’s buyout is massive — he has three years remaining on a five-year deal that averages $5.5 million annually — but the team clearly wanted to move on.

Rex Ryan has been fired by the Bills. (AP)
Rex Ryan has been fired by the Bills. (AP)

The 7-8 Bills have lost three of their past four games this season to fall from the playoff race.

More changes appear to be afoot, too. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bills will bench Tyrod Taylor and start EJ Manuel in the season finale against the New York Jets. Taylor is due nearly $30 million next season and could be let go for financial reasons.

Whaley also is safe, the team announced later on Tuesday, despite Taylor’s unwieldy contract and a sub-par draft record, and will lead the search for his third coach as GM. Ryan was one of 12 candidates the team interviewed following the 2014 season, when then-coach Doug Marrone opted out of his deal following a 9-7 season, his second as the head man in Buffalo.

Ryan’s firing avoids what would have been a strange scene — going back to New York to face the Jets, his former team, in Week 17 at MetLife Stadium. The cruel reality is that it could be the final game for Todd Bowles, the man who replaced Ryan, as Jets head coach as well. It’s not clear if that played into the timing of the announcement for the Bills firing Ryan, or if they wanted to give Lynn a one-game audition.

Ryan, 53, had a record of 15-16 in his two seasons with the team, and this was his sixth straight non-winning season. His last winning season as a head coach — also the last time one of his teams reached the postseason — was in 2010 with Jets, when they were 11-5. Ryan, son of the late NFL coach Buddy Ryan, owns a head-coaching record of 61-66 with two appearances in the AFC championship game with the Jets.

The Bills have not made the postseason since 1999 and Lynn will be their ninth head coach (including interim) since Marv Levy left following the 1997 season.

Lynn is expected to be a candidate for the job, and former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin also has been rumored as a possible successor to Ryan for some time now.

Will Ryan coach again in the NFL? He has been targeted by television networks as a possible analyst, where his bombastic style might be successful. Ryan might not want to be a defensive coordinator again — and money shouldn’t be an issue — after spending eight seasons as an NFL head coach.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!