On Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan’s defense is outdated. Back even 7-10 years ago, the exotic zone blitzes and delayed safety blitzes had time to get home with quarterbacks still mostly under center and utilizing a great deal of five- and- seven-step drops. Now, it’s a shotgun, quick-passing league.
I’m not insinuating the zone blitz is obsolete, but to disrupt offenses today, I think you have to make getting upfield the fundamental responsibility of defenders closest to the ball. Maybe his exotic blitzes confuse some quarterbacks... but it really doesn’t matter a whole lot due to the high percentage of quick passes.
Rex has made the cardinal sin of being a head coach or coordinator in the NFL. He had success — which boosted his ego — then didn’t think he ever needed to evolve. The league evolved and passed him by. You can call it classic NFL head coach hubris. In fairness to Rex, this happens to the majority of NFL coaches.
In a vacuum, two years isn’t enough for a head coach in the NFL. But sometimes, there are some extenuating circumstances. This may be one of those situations.
Buffalo’s defensive regression has been staggering. And it’s gotten disorganized.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know of my staunch belief that players are considerably more important than coaches in the NFL.
(Yes, only having 10 games of Aaron Williams has really hurt Rex’s defense.)
And, more to that, head coaches aren’t so much “coaching” as they are “managing.” Rex has had more than his fair share of in-game gaffes and hasn’t exactly put some of his core players in the best position to succeed. The most glaring example of that is what’s happened with Marcell Dareus.
He’s not a two-gapping nose tackle. Wait, let me rephrase that. He can play the nose and two-gap (aka eat blocks / double teams), but the Bills didn’t sign him to a mega, super-player-friendly extension to do that.
From 2011 to 2014, when he was predominantly asked to “attack” in passing situations, he had 28.5 sacks in 63 games, good for a .45 sack-per-game average.
In Rex’s system, Dareus has 5.5 sacks in 22 games, which means his sacks-per-game averaged dropped to .25. That’s a significant dip.
Now... Dareus probably wasn’t in the best shape of his career this season, but he hasn’t been used optimally under Rex. Just hasn’t.
I’ve gotten to the point in which I waver back and forth from being totally indifferent on Rex’s future and thinking it’d be the best decision for the Bills to fire him. Then again, if they keep him — which I highly doubt at this point — continuity won’t be the worst thing for the organization.
If Rex is retained, he first has to realize his “reputation” isn’t and his defenses aren’t nearly as good as he believes. His decision to punt in overtime when his offense had accumulated 589 yards of offense and “turn it over to his defense” was a microcosm his stubbornness and increasingly delusional idea of himself.
After that, he needs to do some soul searching about how he’ll tweak his defensive philosophy and get more organized. I’m just not sure he’d ever do those things.
On Buffalo’s offense
While watching the Steelers - Ravens game last night, I was once again reminded that the Ben Roethlisberger - Le’Veon Bell - Antonio Brown triplet is an absolute blast and the main reason Pittsburgh has morphed into an offensive juggernaut and will return to the playoffs for the third year in a row.
Obviously the Jim Kelly - Thurman Thomas - Andre Reed triplet is the gold standard in Buffalo.
The Tyrod Taylor - LeSean McCoy - Sammy Watkins triplet is a Top 5 to Top 7 triplet in the NFL. Think about it.
Watkins’ yards-per-target figure over the past two seasons, with Tyrod as his quarterback, is an astounding 10.4. Odell Beckham Jr.’s yards-per-target average over that same time frame is 8.6. Sure, starting at the beginning of 2015, OBJ has seen 320 targets to Watkins’ 139, but the yards-per-target gap between the two is striking.
Regarding Tyrod... ready for these stats? (Disclaimer: you are not)
He’s had a QB rating of 100 or more in 12 of 29 career games with the Bills. That’s 41.3%. Also, in 18 of 29 career games, he’s had a QB rating over 90. That’s 62%.
Derek Carr has had a QB rating of at least 100 in 11 of his last 31 starts (beginning in 2015). That’s 35.4%. He’s had a QB rating of 90 or more in 15 of his last 31 starts. That’s 48.3%.
And, no, Tyrod didn’t necessarily pad those stats in his stellar 2015. He’s had six games with a QB rating over 100 in 2016... which is the same number Carr has this season. Lastly on this comparison, Tyrod’s yards-per-attempt average with the Bills is 7.46. Carr’s YPA in 2015 and 2016 combined is 7.0.
Crazy, right? But that’s all true.
Sure, Tyrod and Carr are asked to do different things in their respective systems, but those facts are interesting considering the immense disparity in how both of those QBs are perceived.
LeSean McCoy is LeSean McCoy. He has been an elite RB since 2010 or 2011, and he’s had the most efficient (and arguably his best) NFL season this year.
The point here — the Bills should keep their Tyrod, Sammy, McCoy triplet together and continue to build around it. They need to pick up Tyrod’s option and let him go into 2017 as the unquestioned starter. Remember, they can still draft a quarterback if they want. Their (realistic) goal should be to field the most dynamic yet balanced offensive attack in the NFL.