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Rex Ryan named Buffalo Bills' coach

Jets head coach Rex Ryan talks with reporters

Jets head coach Rex Ryan talks with reporters at training camp in Cortland on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Credit: Hans Pennink

After six years with the Jets, Rex Ryan has found a new home in the AFC East.

The Buffalo Bills officially named Ryan their coach Monday morning. It's reportedly a five-year deal worth about $5.5 million annually.

"Following an extensive search, we are pleased today to announce that Rex Ryan is our new head coach," Bills owner Terry Pegula said in a statement released by the team.

"Rex brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the position that we feel will be a tremendous benefit to our players and the entire Bills organization. He was very impressive during the interview process, as were many of the candidates to which we spoke, and we feel Rex is the best fit for our team."

Ryan had hoped to become the coach of the Atlanta Falcons, according to sources, but a perceived lack of interest on the part of the Falcons forced his hand.

When news of his second interview Saturday night with the Bills didn't spur the Falcons into action, Ryan settled on Buffalo. The Bills "made him feel wanted," one source said.

Ryan will take former Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and Jets defensive assistant Jeff Weeks -- his former college roommate -- with him, according to sources. Ryan reportedly wants to bring Jets quarterbacks coach David Lee and 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman to Buffalo, too.

Ryan reportedly offered current Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz the opportunity to stay, but The Buffalo News reported that Schwartz, who has drawn interest from the Giants, most likely will leave the team.

The Bills interviewed 12 candidates for the head-coaching job vacated by Doug Marrone, who opted out of his contract on Dec. 31. Ryan becomes the 18th head coach in Bills history and the first man since Bill Parcells to be the head coach of teams in the same division in consecutive seasons. Parcells coached the Patriots in 1996 and the Jets in 1997.

"Excited about the hire of Rex!!" Bills running back Fred Jackson tweeted. "Great coach to come in and keep us moving in the right direction!"

"That's music to my ears. I can't wait to work for a coach like that," Bills running back Anthony "Boobie" Dixon told the team's website when asked about Ryan's affection for the ground-and-pound style. "This past year was definitely frustrating at times, throwing the ball as much as we did. Not banging in the red zone at the times when we needed to. That's just bringing excitement to me and I'm ready. I'm going to go work out now just to be ready."

The Jets fired Ryan and general manager John Idzik on Dec. 29. Ryan coached the team to back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game after the 2009 and 2010 seasons but also left with a sub-.500 record in the regular season (46-50). The Jets failed to make the playoffs the last four seasons and finished 4-12 in 2014.

This past season, Marrone coached Buffalo to a 9-7 record, the team's first winning season since 2004. And now the Bills hope Ryan can take them to the next level.

Said Pegula: "We look forward to his leadership and expertise in directing our team to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans."

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