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Rex Ryan's 2016 Buffalo Bills coaching staff: tracking changes

Rex Ryan and the Bills are making several changes to their coaching staff. Here's what the staff looks like on offense, defense, and special teams at the moment.

The Buffalo Bills finished the 2015 season with a disappointing 8-8 record, and in the midst of a losing skid that doomed their playoff chances for a sixteenth straight year, head coach Rex Ryan admitted that changes were coming with lofty expectations unmet.

Less than two weeks after the regular season concluded, we're beginning to see some of those changes start to take shape on Ryan's coaching staff - particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Let's catch up on everything that's happened thus far, and take a look at the staff as a whole.


  • Rex Ryan - head coach
  • Rob Ryan - assistant head coach/defense
  • Dennis Thurman - defensive coordinator
  • Karl Dunbar - defensive line
  • Jeff Weeks - assistant defensive line
  • Jason Rebrovich - outside linebackers
  • Bobby April III - linebackers
  • Tim McDonald - defensive backs
  • Ed Reed - assistant defensive backs
  • D'Anton Lynn - defensive assistant

Anyone who follows the Bills closely had an inkling that things would be changing on the defensive coaching staff, and Ryan has made a couple of tweaks feel like fairly monumental moves.

The hiring of Rob Ryan as assistant head coach/defense has its purely entertainment-level appeals, but functionally, it's a significant move. There has been some talk that the defensive coordinator, Thurman, will work more with the defensive backs. The Bills run the Ryan defense, and it's logical that the two Ryan brothers would be most heavily involved in game planning and calling it.

Thurman's reported planned involvement with the defensive backs stems from Donnie Henderson's departure. Henderson is one of the more respected position coaches the Bills have had in recent years, but he's out. McDonald remains on staff as a defensive backs coach, and long-time Ryan player Reed joins the staff as an assistant defensive backs coach.

These moves seem to be borne of a desire to bring in more coaches with an intimate knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Ryan scheme. If you'd asked any Bills fan to identify two players who might know Rex's defense as well as anyone, Rob Ryan and Ed Reed might be the two names picked. But without knowing the exacts of the power structure here, this list does have a too-many-cooks vibe, as well.


  • Rex Ryan - head coach
  • Greg Roman - offensive coordinator
  • Chris Palmer - senior offensive assistant
  • David Lee - quarterbacks
  • Anthony Lynn - assistant head coach/running backs
  • Sanjay Lal - wide receivers
  • Tony Sparano, Jr. - tight ends
  • Aaron Kromer - offensive line
  • Jason Vrable - offensive quality control

The only change here has been the departure of assistant offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, who took a promotion to offensive line coach at the University of Arkansas. It's possible that the Bills will replace him at some point. Given the success of Buffalo's offense last season, continuity was fully expected here.

Lynn, by the way, has interviewed for two head coaching openings - Miami and San Francisco.

Special Teams

  • Rex Ryan - head coach
  • Danny Crossman - special teams coordinator
  • Eric Smith - special teams assistant

There was some thought that the Bills might make drastic changes to this branch of the coaching staff, but Crossman remains employed two weeks after the season ended, and the only change is that former NFL player (and 2015 special teams assistant coach) Michael Hamlin won't be back. Buffalo's special teams - their return game, in particular - was far from great last season.

What else do you think needs to happen to Ryan's coaching staff this offseason?