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SEP 22 - SEP 29, 2015

Ryan Could Learn a Thing or Two From Lombardi

By Tony Farina

SEP 22, 2015

Greenbay Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi at the (sub-zero) Ice Bowl. Reportedly the "Coldest Game Ever Played."
Head Coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills watches from the sidelines against the Indianapolis Colts.


Big-talking Rex Ryan and his undisciplined football team got pummeled on Sunday by the New England Patriots, and the 40-32 spanking was much worse than the final score suggests.

Ryan’s vaunted defensive genius was nowhere to be seen on Sunday as Tom Brady threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns against a non-existent and well paid pass rush and a secondary that talked big and played small.  It was really no contest.

Rex had the same problem with the Jets:  bold talk, big promises, lack of discipline, and no quarterback.  His players didn’t handle the pressure of the big game on Sunday and failed horribly with their trash-talking approach that racked up penalties not defensive stops.  Ryan’s failure to instill discipline was evident early on and the Patriots cruised in the so-called statement game.

When the Green Bay Packers won the Ice Bowl 21 to 17 in 1967 against the Dallas Cowboys, the wind chill was -70 when they made their historic 69-yard drive in the final minutes to win the NFL championship.  What drove that team to perform in those unimaginable conditions was the sight of their great coach, Vince Lombardi, staring at them the whole way, challenging them to keep on going no matter what.  Lombardi coached with an iron will and his team responded.  They were totally professional and when the time came, their discipline instilled by their legendary coach was their true strength.

Now I certainly am not about to compare Rex Ryan with Vince Lombardi because there is no comparison.  But the point is Lombardi controlled his players, they played under control, and they did their talking on the field.  There were no wild displays on the field with Lombardi on the sideline.  It was all business.

Now I know times have changed and contracts have soared out of sight, but the Patriots—with four championships—have that Packer-style of playing the game on the field, letting what they do between the lines define who they are.  Ryan is more talk than action.  The Bills were done early in Sunday’s game as they were carried away by the hype fueled by Ryan’s big talk and disintegrated as Brady carved them up.   They lost the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball and were clearly outcoached.

I remember those great Packer teams well, the teams of Vince Lombardi whose name is on the Super Bowl trophy.  Those Packer teams with Starr, Paul Hornung, and the rest of that super team, went about their business as professionals and when the Ice Bowl came, they were up to the challenge.

Now I don’t expect Rex Ryan to turn into Vince Lombardi, but he needs to take control of his team and instill the kind of discipline that wins championships, like Lombardi did and Belichick does.  This Bills team has a lot of talent, but talent alone doesn’t get the job done.  Tyrod Taylor has promise and there are talented offensive players and a defense that was very good last year.  What they have lacked and still lack is professionalism.  If Ryan wants to take this team anywhere, he’ll have to find a way to get his players to stay in the moment and not get caught up in the hype from fans and media starving for a playoff team.

No, Rex, you will never be a Vince Lombardi and maybe you can’t really change into a commanding presence respected by his players and leave the bullhorn in the locker room and maybe those days are gone for good.  But this season could quickly get away if this team doesn’t learn from what happened Sunday and stop reading the clippings about how good they are and how much money they make.  They need to do it on the field, like the Packers did in 1967 when lesser teams and lesser coaches would have packed it in at -70 wind chill.  This team would be running for the bus.

Stay tuned!!!






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