It didn’t take Rex Ryan long to earn a second shot at a head coaching job. He didn’t even have to leave his division. Some of the first words as Buffalo Bills coach were that his team was going to be a “bully”.
It’s pretty clear at this point that he is trying to replicate the success he had early in New York, with an all-world defense and a giant running game. It’s also becoming more clear that Rex is set on taking chances on guys that don’t have the best past. He gave a second, or even third chance to multiple players. He understands that it’s not often that a coach gets scooped up by a division rival as fast as he was.
Moves like the ones he’s making does raise question marks. Just check out this Buffalo cartoonist’s rendering of the Bills offseason.
The Rex Ryan effect… @TheBuffaloNews#BuffaloBillshttp://t.co/PUHxRbpE7Bpic.twitter.com/9IYePJHMfk
— Adam Zyglis (@adamzyglis) August 15, 2015
While that drawing is a little over the top, the moves the Bills made could pan out for them in very big ways. Enter possibly the most controversial player they brought in, Richie Incognito. The troubled guard is filling a giant hole for them on the offensive line and Ryan already praised him multiple times throughout camp, saying he may be their toughest lineman.
Incognito’s been out of the league since 2013 because of the Miami Dolphin bullying scandal. Now he’s been picked up by a division rival and if any coach can create an environment for him to excel in, it might be Rex Ryan. Incognito will be a vital part of an offensive line thats going to need to make some space for LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson.
Percy Harvin was traded from Seattle after allegedly being a locker room problem and fighting with a few of his teammates. He’s not in line to be a starter and will take up his usual gadget role in the offense. Ryan obviously didn’t have any problems with him in New York last season, and his signing should open up a crowded ground and pound offense. For a team with a viable threat at quarterback, Harvin can create in a variety of different ways. Still, we’ll see what happens off the field with him.
The entire team is filled with players on second chances. Even second-round draft pick Ron Darby and fifth-round pick Karlos Williams had major red flags coming out of college. Still, Ryan and the Bills took a chance on him, figuring the risk was worth the reward. Their most recent acquisition may have been the one that turned the most heads.
They signed the now-famous IK Enemkpali, just a couple of days after breaking Geno Smith’s jaw. Like Harvin, Ryan must of liked him enough in New York to sign him after an incident like that. Rex even joked about it during a speech before a joint practice with the Browns.
“We claimed IK Enemkpali,” Ryan said to the Bills in a statement, ” I wouldn’t bring him here if I didn’t think he could really come in and fit in with us. I need your help to welcome him to the team like he’s any other player.”
The linebacker is the type of player to fit in with the team they have been building. Talented and ready for a second chance. He may not factor in a whole lot on an already stacked defense, but the singing epitomizes what Ryan is trying to do.
Maybe the cartoon rendering is so far off after all. Their offensive line coach, Aaron Kromer is suspended for the first six games of the season, for allegedly punching a teenager in the face over a beach chair.
If all these moves work out, Ryan may have his most talented team yet. The defensive line is better on paper than any of the years with the Jets and with McCoy and Watkins the offense has two of the leagues premiere players at their positions.
If Ryan got Mark Sanchez to the AFC title game, it will be as big as a test getting either Tyrod Taylor or Matt Cassel into the playoffs. E.J. Manuel is the only quarterback that Rex didn’t bring in himself and his currently third on the depth chart. It’s going to come down to Cassel or Taylor. They do have the pieces around them, and if Rex stays true to what he said earlier, they could run the ball around 40 to 45 times per game.
And that may be enough to be a better version of his early Jets and contending with New England for the division is very possible.