A former Texas Tech running back will take over the Buffalo Bills after the club fired head coach Rex Ryan on Tuesday near the end of his second season with the team.
Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will coach the Bills in their season finale at the New York Jets (4-11) on Sunday. Lynn, who played for the Spike Dykes-era Red Raiders from 1987-91, is also considered a candidate to replace Ryan permanently because of his familiarity with an offense that is closing in on leading the NFL in rushing for a second consecutive season.
Lynn, a long-time Ryan assistant, was promoted to coordinator in September, when Ryan fired Greg Roman after an 0-2 start. Lynn turned 48 last week. He’s been an NFL assistant since 2000, having coached with five other teams, including the Dallas Cowboys.
Ryan’s inability to back up his boasts of building a bully — particularly on defense — in Buffalo led to the Bills firing their high-profile coach one game short of completing his second full season.
Terry Pegula, who made Ryan’s hiring his first big splash as owner, was the person who informed Ryan of his dismissal Tuesday. The decision came three days after a 34-31 overtime loss to Miami that eliminated Buffalo (7-8) from contention, and extended the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 17 years.
“We mutually agreed that that the time to part ways is now,” Pegula said in a statement released by the team. “These decisions are never easy.”
Pegula then noted his wife in saying: “Kim and I and our entire Bills organization share in the same disappointment and frustration as our fans, but we remain committed to our goal of bringing a championship to western New York.”
Ryan had three years remaining on his contract.
General manager Doug Whaley’s job appears secure after being put in charge of the Bills coaching search, the team’s third in four years. Buffalo is also moving on to its eighth coach since the playoff drought began during Wade Phillips’ final year as coach in 2000.
Ryan replaced Doug Marrone, who opted out of his contract following a 9-7 finish in 2014, and three months after the Pegulas purchased the Bills from the estate of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson.
Lynn came to Texas Tech from Celina. He spent his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons behind Tech career rushing leader James Gray. As a junior in 1990, Lynn ran for a team-high 884 yards, fifth in the Southwest Conference, and as a senior, he rushed for 459 yards while sharing the load with a young Bam Morris.
Lynn left Tech in the top 10 for career rushing with 1,972 yards and 20 touchdowns.
He spent six seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, winning Super Bowl rings with the Broncos after the 1997 and 1998 seasons.