Changes on Defense: Bills Hire Defensive Line Coach John Blake, Among Other Changes
The Buffalo Bills announced on Tuesday that the team has come to terms with defensive line coach John Blake. Blake, who has 20-plus years of experience under his belt, started his coaching career at Tulsa in 1987, and from there he has coached at University of Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Nebraska. Appearing in the NFL in 1993, Blake coached for the Dallas Cowboys and secured two Super Bowl rings, ironically both against the Bills. Blake arrives in Buffalo most recently from the University of North Carolina, where he was the defensive line coach from 2007 to 2010.
Head coach Rex Ryan spoke on behalf of Blake on Tuesday. “John is a heck of a coach who has worked with many outstanding players and made them better…He has worked with a number of NFL players and earned their respect with his ability to hone their skills and techniques. I don’t think you will find better examples of his teaching abilities than the work he has done recently with Jason Pierre-Paul and Jerry Hughes.”
Blake has a positive reputation when it comes to developing successful athletes. During his time in Dallas, defensive linemen Leon Lett, Charles Haley and Russell Maryland all received Pro Bowl honors while under Blake’s watch. Both coaches will more than likely be on the same page, especially since Ryan served as Blake’s defensive coordinator in 1998 while at Oklahoma.
Clearly there are changes being made to the coaching staff as of late for the Bills. Back in January, Rex Ryan went out and hired his brother, Rob, as an assistant defensive coach. Based on the Ryan family’s unorthodox character and unconventional actions, many Bills fans found this move to be somewhat unsettling. On the other hand, the hire of future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed in mid-January helped boost the morale of Bills fans. On top of nine Pro Bowl selections and being the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year, Reed was a member of the Baltimore Ravens who won Super Bowl XLVII in 2012 before retiring after the 2013 season. It’s safe to say that Rex Ryan is excited to have a veteran like Reed on the coaching staff.
“Having spent time with Ed in Baltimore and then New York, I can attest to the incredibly high level of professionalism he is going to bring with him to Buffalo,” explained Ryan. “He’s going to teach guys how he studies film, bring the guys along and add so much in that way.”
Reed provides that “swagger” that every NFL secondary needs. He was known for delivering huge hits, anticipating quarterbacks, and shutting down top wide receivers week in and week out. It is certain that defense is a main focus for the Bills, especially after a very unproductive and disappointing season this past year. The additions of Blake, Ryan, and Reed shine a spotlight on the Buffalo’s defense, which is definitely a focal point going into the 2016 off-season.