Bills coach Ryan says first female assistant coach will do a 'tremendous job'

Jan 22, 2016

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan said he "feels great" about hiring the NFL's first full-time female assistant coach. Kathryn Smith will serve as a Special Teams Quality Control Coach for the team. WBFO's Eileen Buckley attended a news conference with Ryan at Ralph Wilson Stadium Friday where the coach explained why he hired Smith.

"I feel great about it. I truly believe she is going do a tremendous job," stated Ryan.

Buffalo Bills Coach Rex Ryan meeting with reporters Friday to discuss the hiring of Smith.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Ryan says he is "very impressed" by Smith and said she will be holding hold a "very important" position with the team. The Bills made history earlier this week by hiring the NFL's first female assistance coach.

"She's a real positive person. Positive energy every single day. High energy every day," remarked Ryan. "She works extremely well with everybody and I think that's a key thing in coaching."

Smith is now entering her 14th year in the league. She spent 12 seasons with the New York Jets and worked this past season with Ryan as an administrative assistant with the Bills.

"She does not have field experience, per se. I get that, there's no question about it. But I know she is going to excel in the other areas of being a quality control coach and I think she is going to be successful on the field. as well," said Ryan.

Ryan said he recognizes the significance of her hire.

"First off, I've got to say I never realized that we were doing it. We were really breaking a barrier. I knew this was a significant hire," Ryan said.

Ryan also talked about what it is like to work with Smith. 

Outside Ralph Wilson Stadium Friday.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"I am having a meeting with [defensive coordinator] Dennis Thurman one day and we are going over some game plan things and I remember this, I don’t remember the opponent specifically, but they had three guys with kind of unique pressure that I had saw like two years prior. Kathryn goes, 'Well, Rex [Ryan], we can get that up, we will call it up on their sacks.' And I'm like, 'No it wasn’t a sack.' So I left it at that, this opponent was playing somebody else. I go out to practice, I come back in off the practice field and she has this thing drawn up, already drawn up and put it on my TV screen, the play, and she goes 'I believe this is the play you were referring to.' And I came back in and I am like 'oh my goodness,' and it was. So you know she has picked up things along the way," explained Ryan.

Buffalo Bills Coach Rex Ryan with newly named Assistant Coach Kathryn Smith.
Credit Photo proivded by the Buffalo Bills

Since news of the hire, there have been some negative and sexist comments on social media about Smith's hire, but Ryan says the assistant is moving forward with her work.

"All I see her doing is, she is working. That is what I see her, I think she is excited, I know she is excited about the opportunity in front of her and I know she is going to do a great job," replied Ryan.

Smith has not made a news conference appearance, but the Bills issued the following statement from her:

"The amount of attention generated from this announcement in the past 24 hours has been extraordinary, however, my focus remains on my job responsibilities and helping the team win," stated Smith.

“I would like to thank Rex Ryan, Kim and Terry Pegula and the Buffalo Bills franchise for this opportunity. “I am excited to continue to work with our special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, special teams assistant Eric Smith and our entire coaching staff and players as we prepare for the 2016 NFL season."