While acknowledging the longstanding struggles of Rob Ryan's defenses and the problems the Buffalo Bills' defense faced adapting to Rex Ryan's scheme this season, Bills general manager Doug Whaley said he still feels the Ryan brothers' reunion on the Bills' staff this offseason is a "positive" for his team.
"If you look at it, Rob and Rex, they've had some troubles," Whaley told reporters at the Senior Bowl, according to The Buffalo News. "Their name is kind of like, 'Hey, they're the Ryans. What happened to their defense?' So why not bring in your brother and try to reclaim that name? That's the way I look at it. And who's going to have your back more than your brother?
"I think it's a positive. I know it's a positive. Everybody in the building feels it's a positive. It's a positive for Rex, too. It can help him expand his horizons as the head coach and get into some other things."
Rob Ryan was fired by the New Orleans Saints in November after his defense ranked 32nd in the NFL and was allowing 424 yards per game through the first 10 weeks of the season. In 12 seasons as defensive coordinator of the Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, Rob Ryan's defenses finished in the bottom half of the league nine times.
Meanwhile, Rex Ryan's defense in Buffalo ranked 19th this season after he led several successful defenses in his six seasons with the New York Jets.
The Ryan brothers will coach together next season for the first time since 1995 after Rex hired Rob as his assistant head coach/defense earlier this month.
In a radio interview last Friday, Rex Ryan laughed off the criticism he and his brother have received.
"I can tell you this: Our family is taking it personal," Ryan told WGR 550. "I think it's hilarious. I look at it, I just say, 'Look at the background and see what happens.' Someone's gonna be right, and I know who that somebody is.
"And we get to prove it, and that's the beauty of it. You know what? I've loaded the boat. I've got it in here. I preach about being tight, being close-knit. No trap doors. There ain't no trap door out there. There better not be, or that person will be gone. And to me, this is all about us. We are all in this together. And we're not gonna let anything prevent us from being the type of team that we're gonna be."
Rex Ryan said he will continue calling defensive plays next season despite hiring Rob Ryan and keeping defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman in that role.
"I think it is going to allow me to be more involved in the team, even if just for supporting my coordinators and things, and I am going to be right there for them," he said. "Because this is my football team, that is how I am approaching it. It is not that I am just a defensive guy. No, this is my team. Offensive players, every offensive player, every special-team player, every offensive coach, every special-teams coach: This is it. This is all about who I am, I think this will help me to really tie in more to this football team, and that's because we got to be like this. And for us to be at our best, we got to be like this. And I think some of the moves that I made, I think will allow me to even bring them even closer."
ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak contributed to this report.