Ed Reed shines light on why Rex Ryan defense failed in Buffalo

Photo of Ed Reed from baltimoresun.com.

Most players and coaches in professional sports consider interviewing with the media a necessary evil of the business. But every once in awhile an interview comes along where raw truths may reveal themselves in the most interesting manner.

Such was the case when I clicked on a recent interview of Hall-of-Fame bound Ed Reed by John Murphy and Steve Tasker on their One Bills Drive show. As usual, I was days late getting to it. But when I finally tuned in, I was struck by a few things Ed Reed had to say about his time in Buffalo as a defensive backs coach under Rex and Rob Ryan during 2016 season.

This is the reason you listen to anything Ed Reed has to say. Ed is a thoughtful man who carefully chooses his words, but is always going to throw in some wisdom with whatever he might be opining about at any given point in time.

True to form, the interview with Ed begins with Murphy and Tasker inquiring about Bills’ sixth-round safety Jaquan Johnson from the University of Miami, where Reed played in college. He had an opportunity to coach and mentor Johnson during his last season with the Hurricanes. It was nice to know the impending ‘HOFer’ thinks the Bills snagged a steal in the sixth-round of the draft.

Reed also discussed the recent fad about declaring players ‘GOATS’ and why he thinks football is still the ultimate team sport – and how there would be no GOATs if not for T-E-A-M. Ed is a wise old soul.

However, the interview suddenly veered midstream smack dab into what happened to the Bills defense during the infamous last year of the Rex Ryan debacle in Buffalo.

You know – the guy who was supposedly the genius of the “organized chaos” defense that was outdated a half-decade before he landed in Buffalo?

Recall that Rex and Rob Ryan enticed Ed Reed to come to Buffalo and rub some of his GOAT dust off on the Bills defensive backfield. Reed took his time making the decision to spend what would be the only year he spent as a coach in Buffalo.

When you listen to the interview, pay attention to how Ed Reed suddenly turned the conversation to what sounded like something he wanted to get off his chest. It was quite remarkable how he openly criticized Rex Ryan’s regime without using Ryan’s name.

Here are some excerpts of Ed Reed’s comments transcribed directly from the interview. You can decide for yourself what they mean.

“Love the city of Buffalo. I’m going to come back and visit sometime. It was a great time. We didn’t have the staff to make Buffalo successful as I thought we could have. I thought we had a great team collectively, but it was a matter of the coaching staff being a cohesive group.”


“I’m learning a lot about coaching in the NFL. I played for 12 years in this league. I was known as a ‘GOAT’ and don’t get any respect from coaches that just coach a game. There’s a lot of stuff in the world that has rubbed off on the NFL in business and the way they run it – hiring people that are not even qualified.”

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, left, shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, after introducing him during a campaign stop at the First Niagara Center, Monday, April 18, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo).

Huh? My best guess here is that in the year 2016 we must recall the national anthem debate was going on in the NFL, as well as a certain polarizing presidential election. A presidential election which I might add was publicly supported by none other than Rex Ryan in Buffalo. If I were to take a stab at guessing, this is what Ed Reed may have been referencing in terms of the political climate. But that’s just wild speculation, something I’ve been known to do with more frequency in my elderly years.

“That’s the mind-boggling to me. I know about coaches pride and all of that stuff, egos and everything – but I just can’t believe that you wouldn’t want players on your staff that played the game. They can help your players because when I was in Buffalo – and you know all the mistakes we were having – that was communication issues.”

Okie dokie. At this point my eyeballs are about to pop out of my head as Reed continued…

“I played the game so I was there (presumably he means in Buffalo) to try to help simplify things but my suggestions were never taken – so it was very frustrating for me very early in my coaching career when your opinion is not taken seriously.”

I’m not sure there’s a more clear way to skewer Rex and Rob Ryan and their so-called vaunted defense. We don’t need to see the tape about what happened to that defense in 2016. Ed Reed summarized it all for us with his crystal clear view of the situation from down in the trenches.

It was also interesting to note that you could hear a pin drop back in the studio when John Murphy and Steve Tasker were trying to pick up their jaws off the floor. They never pursued any further questioning about Ed Reed’s massive truth dump which I did find curious.

Photo of Ed Reed from baltimoremagazine.com.

Personally, I would have egged Reed on and let him unload whatever he felt like saying about the last gasp of the Rex Ryan era in the NFL. It’s rare for an interview to turn so suddenly into a truth-telling session. I would have loved to have heard where it could have gone (insert grinch-smiling emoji GIF here).

We should be grateful to Ed Reed for sharing his reality with BillsMafia. Ed is one of the “wise-ones” who is at a point in life as an elder that he can say whatever he wants without fear of reprisal because he doesn’t give a hoot what certain people think.

Definitely a man this old bag of wind certainly admires.

Editor’s babble: What a breath of fresh air! Although Ed Reed probably didn’t say anything most fans didn’t already know about the Rex Ryan debacle, hearing it straight from him was a real treat. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO – if you want to punish yourself even more.

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BillsMafia.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the glorious Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @robynmundyWYO.

7 Replies to “Ed Reed shines light on why Rex Ryan defense failed in Buffalo”

  1. This is exactly the problem with the John Murphy show. He is and acts like a homie, repping for the people that pay his check. I’ve heard him deny it, but we have tape.

  2. The John Murphy with Steve Tasker Show is a complete waste of time if u want2here the truth about the Buffalo Bills. If u want2 hear the truth turn on 96.5 fm or1080 am on Saturday at 130p.m. The Greatest sport show n the nation Host Pat Freeman aka The Mighty Oba

  3. Can’t you lefties leave politics out of sports? The writer obviously infers that Rex Ryan should not have endorsed President Trump and everybody reading would agree with her. More liberal group thought, keep it to yourself.

    • This has nothing to do with left vs right and everything to do with being a leader who is responsible for connecting to a wide swath of personalities. It is always advised to avoid politics at work, but when a coach publicly endorses a candidate—any candidate—the next move is for the media to stick a microphone in player’s faces to ask what they think. Now you have politics in the workplace, which at best is a distraction. A coach needs to know better, and most do, which is why you seldom see coaches stumping for candidates.

      I also must ask the question, if you don’t automatically agree with what an author writes then why do you assume all others do? That’s a bit oxymoronic, isn’t it?

      • Thank you for this comment. You explained my point much better than I could have done. To assume I am a “leftie” from anything I wrote is really a stretch. We live in such hypersensitive times where people draw conclusions with little or no evidence or data to do so. I think it’s a result of social media knee-jerk responses and the blurring of opinion vs critical thinking that happens because the general public cannot distinguish between data supported evidence and opinion garnered off the internet.