In his final press conference as the coach of the Buffalo Bills, Rex Ryan referred to an incident in the loss to Miami as one of the most ridiculous things he’d ever seen. He was speaking of the 57 yard run that Jay Ajayi ripped off in overtime. That run pushed the Dolphins from their own 15 yard line to the 28 of Buffalo.
After that run, the Bills put an 11th defender on the field.
The Dolphins ran for 8. Against 11.
On second down they ran for 3. Against 11. First down.
The Dolphins ran for 6. Against 11.
Outside that 57 yard run the Dolphins were able to put up 437 yards of offense. Presumably the Bills had 11 on the field for all of those plays.
Your defense didn’t keep Miami in check. Not in this game… not in this season:
In 2 games, Buffalo forced Miami into a 3 and out 5/24 times or 21%.
The Dolphins averaged 5.5 yards per carry against your defense when it fielded 11 players. That’s… just under the Bills average yards-per-carry in the loss. In fact, it’s also what the Bills have run for as the #1 rushing team in the NFL this season.
5.5 yards per carry is the best rushing offense in football. That’s what Miami was doing to Rex's team in a must-win scenario, against 11 defenders… and he chose to give them the ball again.
And through it all, Rex regretted 10 men on the field more than anything.
Is 10 men on the field a problem? Absolutely it is. Somewhere there’s been a communication breakdown. One of your 30 million assistant coaches should have figured out how to field a complete team for your super-impressive “pin them deep” stand you were about to make.
10 men on the field is a problem, but it’s a mistake and the coach knows it.
To Rex, the punt is not a mistake, and that is unforgivable.
In Rex's explanation for kicking the ball away, he pulled out a story from a 2009 game between the Colts and Patriots. Bill Belichick opted to go for a 4th and 1 in an attempt to seal a victory. He felt it was a good idea to try to get one yard, rather than willingly give the ball back to Peyton Manning.
Rex's takeaway from that game and situation was effectively, "Didn't work, and he lost."
He did not take away that a (then) 3-time Super Bowl Champion thought "I should keep the football and try to win, rather than giving it to the future Hall of Fame QB on his home field with 2 minutes left." Who knew that game in 2009 would shape one of the worst coaching decisions in Bills history in 2016?
In the loss to Miami the Bills “controlled the clock” (won TOP), won the turnover battle (1-0), and pinned them deep (with that stupid punt).
Everything about coaches like this, is about having the football. Until they’re required to do something to keep it, that is. They’ll spend 15 hours a day, designing game plans, and picking players and schemes to either keep the football or go and get it.
They'll draft defensive backs that are ballhawks, and defensive ends that get strip sacks. They'll sign QBs to manage the game and throw to the fullback in the flat, just because downfield throws are too dangerous. They will talk about winning the turnover battle for 8 months out of the year. Too many will fail to learn that the person who turns the ball over on a football team the most, is the coach.
It never bothered me that Rex was a bit wacky. I didn’t care about the antics that so many get distracted with. I didn’t care that he hired Rob Ryan because the NFL is a world of nepotism and friend-hiring. It’s like establishment politics on steroids.
I’ll remember the Rex teams for losing to good teams. I’ll remember them for beating and padding their stats against the bad teams.
While the offense, primarily the run game, went off like gangbusters again, they finished just about where they were supposed to.
We’ve seen good run games during this drought.
We’ve seen strong defense.
We’ve seen horrendous punts that do damage to the team.
I tend to remember the punts.
Maybe you’ll remember 10 men on the field, like Rex will.
I’ll remember the punt.