Following an 8-8 campaign, which left the Bills out of postseason play for a 16th straight year, Buffalo has already began making significant adjustments to their coaching staff for 2016. These moves have included the hiring of Ryan’s twin brother Rob, nine-time Pro Bowler Ed Reed and most recently the first full-time female coach Kathryn Smith.
On Friday Ryan addressed the changes with the media at One Bills Dr. via press conference.
“Obviously we have I guess is it three new additions to the coaching staff. Starting with, I guess for some reason you know the Rob Ryan one was big we thought for a time, but we will start with the latest hire, Kathryn Smith,” Ryan began.
“I hired Kathryn because I believe she is going to do a tremendous job,” Ryan said. “I have known her professionally for seven years and the reason that I think she is going to do a tremendous job here it starts with everything else just like any profession, you have got to have a work ethic, you got to have a passion for it, and I just like the way she is. She is really all about the team.”
News of Smith being brought onto the staff as a the quality control-special teams coach broke late Wednesday night, in what is a historic move for the NFL. Not everyone has expressed the similar confidence that Ryan has for Smith to succeed in the role, in fact a Cleveland sports radio host event went as far as to claim that there is “no room for female coaches in pro sports.” Those negative comments however, are something Ryan has little care for. “I will be honest with you, I had no idea it would get this much attention, I can promise you that,” Ryan said.
Ryan also spoke very highly of Reed – the retired safety whom he coached on two different teams – explaining, “Ed Reed is a young man who is going to be a first team Hall of Fame guy, I don’t [think] there is any doubt about that, but what maybe we don’t know is [he] was the most instinctive player maybe that we have seen playing that safety position…I saw the way [other] players reacted to having Ed Reed in the building, and from day one he walked in, he was trying to make players better, and they knew it, and they followed him, I mean it was the Pied Piper and they just followed him.”
Reed is expected to serve as an assistant defensive backs coach under Tim McDonald. There is no denying Reed’s almost unmatched success in Ryan’s scheme with both the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets also contributed to his hiring. “Ed obviously knows the system inside and out, there is no question, he has played in this system for two different teams. So that is a big help, but I really think it is what he is going to add to our players and taking their preparation to a different level.”
In regards to his own brother Ryan cleared up any confusion about Rob’s role, making it known that he will still be calling the defensive plays and that Dennis Thurman will retain the title of defensive coordinator. “I understand where it is coming from because my brother, 12 years he has been a coordinator, but we brought my brother in to just add to what we have. And to have other eyes in it,” Ryan said. “I think it is going to allow me to be more involved in the team, even if it just for supporting my coordinators and things and I am going to be right there for them. Because this is my football team, that is how I am approaching it. It is not that I am just a defensive guy, no this is my team.”
Ryan also went on to add that his brother actually turned down potential coordinator jobs both at the NFL and collegiate levels solely because he really wanted to be a part of the coaching staff in Buffalo. While Ryan has found confidence in combining numerous defensive minds to fix the defense, outsiders are asking if their are maybe too many cooks in the kitchen?
“I don’t think that is, the great thing is that there is discussion, like that opens it up. But when the plan comes in and the call comes in, it is a Buffalo Bill thing and we are all in it together, Ryan said. “But I love having opinions, having voices I think…I know one thing, I believe in myself, and I believe in the people that are with me.”
In the early stages of this off-season, building a coaching staff that Ryan is comfortable with is just the first of many moves to come before the 2016 season kicks off, but it’s already very evident that Ryan is determined to in his own words “get this thing right.”
“It is not just built for one man it is built for all 11 men and I think that is what they got to understand. But when I ask specifically what do you not like, what are you uncomfortable with I finally at the end of the year started getting some answers,” Ryan said. “I am so excited to be back in and hey we don’t know at the end of the day what it is going to look like personnel wise, there is a lot of decisions that have to be made on different guys. But I am excited about moving forward, not just with this defense but how much our offense can improve.”