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Jim Kelly thinks Rex Ryan will be fired if Bills miss playoffs


Jim Kelly believes Rex Ryan will be fired as Buffalo Bills head coach if he fails to lead the team to the playoffs next season.

The Hall of Famer and Bills icon made his comments concerning Ryan’s perceptively shaky future with the organization during a Thursday appearance on “The Jim Rome Show.”

“I think we need to do it [make the playoffs],” said Kelly, as transcribed by’s Darryl Slater. “I think we have to do it. If we don’t, I think Rex will probably be looking for another job. I think everybody knows that, including Rex. We have the nucleus to get it done.

“On paper, we look great, and we should be a very good team. But you cannot go to the playoffs, you can’t win championships, when you’re spending most of your time in the training room [with injuries]. You’ve got to stay healthy. Our key guys have got to stay healthy.”

Given Kelly’s words are treated as gospel in Buffalo, his comments obviously carry some weight. Interestingly, Ryan and Kelly became fast friends after the coach was hired, so it’s somewhat surprising to hear the legendary quarterback put things so plainly. The two also spent some time together during Kelly’s recent charity golf tournament.

All that aside, the Bills did take a step back during Ryan’s first season, going 8-8 after posting a 9-7 record the previous season under Doug Marrone. The defense was the Bills’ strength as Ryan took over and the assumption was that his acumen on that side of the ball would only make the unit that much more formidable.

Unfortunately for Ryan, that did not prove to be the case. The installation of his system rubbed several players on defense the wrong way, highlighted by the very public griping from Mario Williams, who is no longer with the team.

Many of the complaints levied against Ryan was that his system was too complicated, involved too many late adjustments and included having lineman drop back into coverage instead of rushing the quarterback.

Ryan didn’t hesitate to criticize the defense throughout the season (here and here), both for its performance and his role in the underwhelming overall performance of the unit.

Further complicating matters is the postseason futility of both Ryan and the Bills. The coach hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2010 with the New York Jets. And the Bills haven’t qualified for the postseason since 1999, the longest drought in the NFL.

Perhaps having a full offseason will help Ryan implement the concepts needed for his defensive system to be more effective. Otherwise, even one of Ryan’s Buffalo-based pals believes it could spell the end of the road for him in Western New York.