The first name that has been floated as a possible replacement for defensive coordinator Bob Sutton in Kansas City is indeed an interesting one — ESPN analyst and former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
The news of Ryan being a possible candidate for the job was reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN shortly after Sutton was fired by the Chiefs on Tuesday. Ryan, 56, has been out of coaching since being fired as the head coach of the Bills following the 2016 season. Ryan coached two seasons in Buffalo, where he moved to after six seasons as the head coach of the New York Jets. Before his time in New York, Ryan spent the previous ten seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, where he was the defensive line coach for the 2000 Super Bowl team and served as defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008. His first NFL job came with the Arizona Cardinals in 1994 and 1995 as a defensive line and linebackers coach, while he’s also held defensive coordinator roles at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Cincinnati, and Kansas State University.
Ryan is known for his upbeat, gregarious, and headline-grabbing personality, which took center stage during his seasons with the New York Jets. He is also known for a defensive scheme similar to that of Sutton, who was a linebackers coach (2009-2012) and an assistant head coach (2012) under Ryan with the Jets. During a December episode of ESPN’s Get Up!, Ryan recently expressed getting back into coaching once the 2019 season arrives.
“Guess what,” Ryan said, per Business Insider. “You know what? I will probably get back into football next year, and I don’t care if I make everybody mad at me or whatever. I could care less.”
In a 2017 interview with NFL.com, Ryan said he was initially dejected by his firing from the Buffalo Bills but changed his mind after taking some time away from the game.
“This might be the best thing that could have happened to me,” Ryan said. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but I needed a year off. Everyone talks about recharging your batteries. But you have no idea until you actually do it.”
Ryan posted a 65-68 record as an NFL head coach, which included a 4-2 mark in the postseason in his first two years in New York. His time came to an end with the Jets after a 4-12 season in 2014, then the Bills let him go after posting a 15-16 mark in two seasons. Ryan told NFL.com in 2017 he might approach coaching differently if he were given an opportunity.
“Maybe I’d come at it with a different perspective,” Ryan said. “I understand that you need to get people who are as loyal as hell, pulling in the same direction. This is no slight to Buffalo and New York, but it’s just something you have to make sure gets done. … As a head coach, it’s my job to make sure everyone pulls in the same direction. Players, coaches, front office. It’s a lot easier said than done.”