Rex Ryan Wants A Nasty Football Team, Gets His Man
One of the most notable stories of the week revolved around the Buffalo Bills’ decision to add Richie Incognito to their roster, a surprising move considering his central role in the Miami bullying scandal. The signing garnered attention due to the negative publicity stemming from that incident.
The city of Buffalo seems to share a belief in second chances, mirroring their recent hiring of the unconventional and sometimes eccentric head coach, Rex Ryan.
He has clarified that he intends to cultivate a particular culture in Buffalo, emphasizing a commitment to toughness: “We are determined to create a team that can assert itself for the entire duration of a game,” stated Ryan.
“We won’t allow ourselves to be pushed around; that’s a promise. We’re going to be the ones setting the tone. We will establish ourselves as the strong ones on the field.”
The 2014 Dallas Cowboys’ achievement showcased the effectiveness of a run-oriented offense, underscoring the enduring value of a physically dominant running game, at least for securing a spot in the playoffs.
However, winning a championship presents an entirely different challenge. It would be a remarkable feat if the Buffalo Bills managed to qualify for the playoffs in the upcoming season, a milestone they haven’t achieved in this millennium, last attaining it in 1999.
The acquisition of a player like Richie Incognito serves a dual purpose for Buffalo. Primarily, it aims to influence the team’s culture significantly.
Incognito brings a physicality that aligns with the franchise’s overarching commitment to build its offensive and defensive strategies around the run game and defense.
What sets Incognito apart is his exceptional aptitude for physical play. He approaches the game with such aggression that he often treads the fine line between intensity and misconduct, albeit well within the rules (as exemplified below).
When facing him, the challenge for opponents lies in avoiding crossing that line themselves. Incognito skillfully teeters on the edge, tempting his adversaries to overstep and incur substantial fines.
Defending against an offensive lineman of this nature can be an exasperating experience for a defender, primarily due to the uncertainty of their actions.
It’s challenging to predict whether they’ll resort to helmet-grabbing tactics or seize the opportunity to bash you when you’re most vulnerable.
Confronting players like Incognito has taught those on the defensive side of the ball the vital importance of maintaining one’s footing.
Any lapse can invite these 300-plus pound behemoths to unleash the full force of their weight, landing on you headfirst, akin to a bull attempting to gore you with its horns. It’s an uncomfortable position to find oneself in.
The addition of Incognito will not only impact the offensive mindset but also reverberate throughout the entire team.
Consider the edge the Bills’ defensive line, led by Kyle Williams, will gain from facing Incognito during OTAs and training camp. The competitive intensity is bound to reach new heights.
Furthermore, Incognito’s status as a cast-off will infuse him with a profound sense of determination when he arrives in Buffalo.
He’ll be driven to demonstrate that he has moved beyond the controversy in Miami. If he can replicate his past performance, particularly as a force in the run game (as illustrated below), this signing could emerge as one of the pivotal acquisitions during Ryan’s tenure in Buffalo.
Although Incognito has been absent from football for over a year and a half, the ability to return to his former on-field prowess at his position is likely to be as intuitive as riding a bike.
The most significant inquiry around Incognito will focus on his capacity to assimilate into the team culture and establish a leadership role. Only the passage of time will provide the answer.
Ultimately, the success or failure of this endeavor hinges on how he interacts with his teammates. If Incognito fails to garner respect within the locker room, his potential influence, much like his previous tenure in Buffalo, is poised to remain minimal.
However, should he deliver dominant performances on the field and maintain a commendable off-field demeanor, this move could catalyze Rex Ryan’s second stint as a professional coach.