January 12, 2015 / 3:23 PM / 3 years ago

Bills hire former Jets boss Rex Ryan as head coach

Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan walks off the field after losing to the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Jets 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - The Buffalo Bills named Rex Ryan as their new head coach on Monday in hopes the former New York Jets coach can help the team snap the longest current playoff drought in the National Football League.

The hiring of Ryan, known as a defensive specialist, ends what the Bills called an extensive coaching search after Doug Marrone abruptly stepped down after Buffalo went 9-7 in the 2014 season and missed the post season for a 15th consecutive year.

"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," Bills owner Terry Pegula said in a statement.

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

Ryan, 52, spent the last six seasons as the head coach for AFC East division rival Jets, a team he lead to the penultimate round of the NFL playoffs in his first two years in charge.

But Ryan was unable to lead the Jets to a winning record in each of the last four campaigns and was fired last month after the team finished near the bottom of the league standings with a 4-12 record. He had a 46-50 regular season record in New York.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed but media reports say Ryan, who is the Bills' 18th coach in franchise history, signed a five-year deal.

Buffalo had to search for a new coach after Marrone, who was hired in early 2013, opted out of his contract on Dec. 31.

Ryan assumes charge of a team without a starting quarterback in place following the sudden retirement of veteran Kyle Orton, who started the final 12 games of the season after taking over from out-of-favor EJ Manuel.

Ryan was no stranger to an unsettled quarterback situation in New York, where former first round draft pick Mark Sanchez was eventually benched after losing form and never adequately replaced.

Ryan's appointment leaves five NFL teams currently without head coaches – the Jets, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders.

Multiple media reports say that Ryan was interviewed by Atlanta but that the Falcons did not make him an offer.

Ryan will be introduced at a news conference on Wednesday.

Reporting Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue

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