Rex Ryan, who hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2016, is reportedly emerging as the top candidate for the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator vacancy, NFL Network reports.
Sean Payton became the Broncos’ new head coach after being out of the game this past season.
He is tasked with revitalizing a team that was supposed to make noise in the AFC West with Russell Wilson on board. Instead, the Broncos finished with a 5-12 record.
First, Payton must put together his coaching staff, and Payton appears to be eyeing Ryan to fill the role on defense.
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Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported Ryan as a “surprise candidate this week” to join those looking to coach under Payton.
Defense is Ryan’s specialty, though he hasn’t been a coordinator since his days with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. He joined the New York Jets in 2009 as their head coach, staying through 2014, when he was fired after a 4-12 campaign.
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Ryan moved on to the Buffalo Bills in 2015 but only lasted as head coach two seasons.
ESPN has had Ryan as one of its NFL analysts since he was fired from the Bills. Though his name has come up in coaching rumors, nothing had been as serious as the reports out of Denver.
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The Broncos need a replacement after Ejiro Evero joined the Carolina Panthers, who offered him the same role under new head coach Frank Reich.
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Evero had a solid defense in Denver despite what the team’s record says. It ranked seventh in total yards allowed per game with 320.0 and gave up 21.1 points per contest.