The Buffalo Bills wasted no time in naming offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn as the interim head coach for Sunday’s meaningless finale against the New York Jets following the firing of Rex Ryan.
While Lynn’s rise through Buffalo’s coaching system has been nothing short of meteoric, his coaching experience goes much farther back than his time here with the Bills. Lynn becomes Buffalo’s ninth head coach in the 20 years since Hall of Famer Marv Levy retired.
Lynn was a running back during his NFL playing days, totaling 28 carries for 177 yards and zero touchdowns over parts of six seasons. He was a member of the Denver Broncos teams that won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998.
As a coach, Lynn’s career began immediately after his playing days ended. He was a special teams assistant in Denver for 3 seasons before moving to Jacksonville to coach running backs. After that two-year stop, he had two more two-year stints with two different franchises (Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns) before moving to New Jersey to coach with the Jets and Rex Ryan in 2009. He has been on Ryan’s staff ever since, coaching his running backs from 2009 until this season, when he was named offensive coordinator on September 21st.
Under Lynn, rushing offenses have tended to flourish. Eight teams that have employed Lynn have had a top-10 rushing attack, and only twice (the 2008 Browns and the 2011 Jets) have these offenses found themselves outside of the top half of the league in rushing. The ‘08 Browns had a 29 year-old Jamal Lewis, who was clearly a shell of his former self, and a tire-fire at quarterback that included Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, and Ken Dorsey combining to complete 48.8% of their passes with a 1:2 TD:INT ratio. The ‘11 Jets had Shonn Greene at his most productive (1054 yards, 4.2 YPC).
With Lynn at the helm of the Buffalo offense, he has overseen a unit that is 12th in yards gained, 7th in points scored, and 1st in rushing. While the team ranks 31st in passing yardage, it is worth noting that they are also 31st in attempts; they are 2nd in rushing attempts (only Dallas has run more) and 1st in yards per carry. The last time the Bills finished as high as 7th in the league in scoring was 2004. The last time they were as high as 12th in yardage was 2002. The last time they finished as highly in both categories was 1998, when they were 7th in points scored and 6th in yards.
With reports that Doug Whaley will lead the head coaching search , Lynn will have himself an open audition on Sunday. It would be quite the rise in what has been a tumultuous year even by Buffalo Bills’ standards.