It’s been often pointed out that where Rex Ryan goes, a certain amount of craziness follows, but Ryan himself couldn’t possibly have expected the chaos that has unfolded in Buffalo this off season. With a decent draft and a large number of returning starters, things were looking up in upstate New York. Many probably imagined the Rex / Rob Ryan coaching combo would be grabbing the headlines for their media hi-jinks, but a spate of high profile injuries and suspensions has left the Bills reeling. Now star defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is facing a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse. Is the Bills’ 2016 a season lost before it’s even started?
The team have made no bones about their anger and disappointment over Dareus’ indiscretion:
“We are very disappointed Marcell chose to put himself first, before his teammates, coaches, the rest of the organization, and fans through his recent actions,” they said in statement. “From ownership down we have made it clear his behaviour is unacceptable. We will continue to take the necessary steps to work with him in order that he adheres to the policies set forth by our league.”
Although he only completed 2 sacks last season, in 2014 Dareus ranked in the top 15 d-linemen with 10.5 sacks. The loss is certainly a big one for a Bills team with diminished depth on their d-line through injury and the loss of Mario Williams to the Dolphins following his ‘personality clash’ with Ryan. On his own Instagram Dareus issued an apology to the team and fans, but this is likely to be of little comfort to a team crippled with problems, especially as this isn’t his first suspension. He served a one game ban in 2015 following an arrest for felony possession of a controlled substance. The team certainly expected better from the man they signed to a $103 million extension (with $60million in guarantees) last year.
The Bills are now ‘moving forward as an organisation’ and focusing on preparing for their season opener against the Ravens without a number of key names, including their first and second round draft picks Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland. Both were expected to feature heavily in Ryan’s defense in a bid to improve on 2015’s mediocre performance. To make matters worse, linebacker IK Enemkpali (who was due to start in place of Lawson), suffered a season ending ACL tear in the Bills’ preseason opener against the Colts. Their other backup option – Manny Lawson, is also expected to miss several weeks recovering from a partially torn pectoral muscle. The Bills have signed former Atlanta Falcon Kroy Biermann but the eight year vet spent last year as a backup at best. With the loss of Dareus, Buffalo may look to add veteran help on the line too.
This offseason seems to be a new high on the Rex Ryan chaos scale and the head coach is certainly facing one of the biggest tests of his coaching career. There have long been mutterings about the lack of discipline in a Ryan squad but the rash of injuries could not have been predicted. With his back to the wall, Ryan is right to be ‘concerned’ about the state of his roster entering the season, especially on defense.
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