ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills fired coach Rex Ryan on Tuesday, so the team will now search to hire its seventh head coach since its last playoff appearance in 1999.
Here is a look at candidates for the Bills to consider:
Anthony Lynn: The Bills' offensive coordinator since Week 3 and their interim coach for the regular-season finale, Lynn has less play-calling experience than anyone else on this list, but he recently stated his case for why that might not be important as a head coach. Players seem to respect Lynn, a longtime running backs coach, as a straight shooter and former player, although by hiring him the Bills would be taking a gamble that they are not moving far enough away from Ryan's influence.
Tom Coughlin: The former New York Giants coach, 70, is a senior adviser to the NFL's football operations department. He met with Ryan and Bills ownership early in 2016 about a consulting role with the team, but sources told ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen that the pairing was not a good fit. For Coughlin to become the Bills' next coach, it would take interest from team ownership and a willingness on Coughlin's part to return to coaching. Such high-profile pairings can be fun for fans to discuss but don't often materialize.
Sean Payton: CBS Sports reported Dec. 18 that the New Orleans Saints would "consider moving" Payton and would "not require hefty trade compensation" to do so. Like Coughlin, Payton would bring winning experience to Buffalo, but there are enough variables involved to call it a long shot. Payton interviewed for the Bills' head-coaching vacancy in 2006, but former owner Ralph Wilson and general manager Marv Levy opted to hire Dick Jauron instead.
Josh McDaniels: The New England Patriots offensive coordinator has been a perennial head-coaching candidate, and he confirmed earlier this season that he would continue to consider opportunities. McDaniels would be a nice grab for the Bills, but having to play the Patriots twice a year would hardly make Buffalo an appealing landing spot for McDaniels, whom the Bills requested permission to interview in 2015. One possibility that might warm McDaniels up to the idea is hiring Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio for a GM-type role with the Bills; the two were college teammates at John Carroll University and began working together with the Patriots in 2001.
Kyle Shanahan: After being on the radar for the Bills' head-coaching vacancy two offseasons ago, Shanahan has served as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. After leading the NFL's third-ranked passing offense this season, Shanahan would provide hope that the Bills can improve from their 31st-ranked unit.
Todd Haley: The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator went 19-26 in two-plus seasons as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, but he would signal a shift in philosophy for the Bills after two seasons of Ryan. First, Haley would bring an offensive focus to a team that might need to develop its next quarterback in the coming seasons. He would also bring a hard-nosed style from the Bill Parcells coaching tree.
Darrell Bevell: Like Shanahan, Bevell was on the Bills' interview list for the opening two years ago. The Seattle Seahawks' offensive coordinator since 2011, Bevell has experience leading an offense centered around a mobile quarterback: Russell Wilson. If the Bills retain Tyrod Taylor for next season, the pairing could be a fit.
Bill Musgrave: The Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator has served in the same role for the Eagles, Panthers, Jaguars and Vikings but has never served as a head coach. His best chance for a top job could be this offseason, after he led third-year quarterback Derek Carr into MVP consideration this season.
Jim Schwartz: After leading the Bills' defense to a fourth-ranked finish in his only season as defensive coordinator in 2014, Schwartz earned a positive reputation among Bills fans that only grew when Ryan struggled to reach the same results with roughly the same group of players. However, the Eagles have the NFL's 18th-ranked defense this season under Schwartz, and there would be some questions about how much he can help the Bills' offensive problems.
Teryl Austin: The Detroit Lions defensive coordinator was on the Bills' interview list two years ago. He has a defensive background that could help turn around a struggling secondary, but the Bills would be taking a gamble on a first-time head coach.
Matt Patricia: The Patriots' defensive coordinator since 2012 has become a more attractive candidate as the New England defense has improved this season despite Bill Belichick trading away Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins. Like McDaniels, there would be questions about whether Patricia would want to coach in a division against Belichick and Tom Brady.