The Bills have a top shelf defense and some decent offensive weapons. The offensive line is a solid unit and this team can run the ball effectively. However, Buffalo is searching for an upgrade at quarterback due to the less than stellar play at the position holding back the team. Sound familiar? This is the exact same situation Rex Ryan walked away from in New York, just with a slightly improved defense. The gap is really not that much. The Bills finished with the fourth ranked defense allowing 312.2 yards per game. The Jets finished sixth with 327.2 yards per game allowed. That's a difference of only 15 yards per game. New York even had a better run defense than Buffalo. Buffalo was no doubt better though allowing 7 points fewer per game and the Bills generated 17 more turnovers over the course of the season than its AFC East rival. Certainly, the Bills are a step up, but it is not a huge step.
The issue the two teams share is the mostly mediocre quarterback play. The Bills 2014 starter Kyle Orton just announced his retirement and I do not see him coming back. That leaves Buffalo with E.J. Manuel as the only quarterback on the roster going into the offseason. Manuel would be a reclamation project for Ryan and we saw in New York that he struggled to develop quarterbacks in both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. There is a very limited free agent pool of quarterbacks with starting experience in the 2015 class, the best options being either former Titan Jake Locker or Sanchez himself. The Bills are also without a first round pick following the trade last spring with Cleveland in order to pick Sammie Watkins, which means that drafting a quarterback of the future in the first round is out of the question. Buffalo could explore trading for a player like Kirk Cousins in Washington or Johnny Manziel in Cleveland but both of those would be shots in the dark. Ryan once again does not have a proven quarterback and will have his team struggle until he finds one.
I am still very surprised to see Buffalo leaning in the direction of selecting a defensive-minded coach when the offense has struggled so mightily. Ryan is a great coach but he is walking into the same mess that led to a disaster with the Jets. I think he could be viewing this as another opportunity to take a shot at Bill Belichick in New England. Ryan would once again have a chance to meet the Patriots coach twice a year in divisional games. Ryan would love nothing more than to best Belichick and while I am not saying it could be the only reason for Ryan's decision, it could be a motivating factor. I think Ryan is making a mistake by walking into Buffalo. He has shown his impeccable ability to create defensive schemes that can stymie Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks but he has struggled to generate an offense. Over Ryan's six-year stint in New York, the Jets finished 20th, 11th, 25th, 30th, 25th and 22nd in total offense. They also finished 17th, 13th, 13th, 28th, 29th and 28th in scoring offense in that same time span. The Bills need a shot in the arm offensively and Ryan cannot provide it. Looking at it, it just seems like a mistake on paper. I guess now we have to see if what is on paper translates to the playing field.