The NFL season is just getting into Week 2 action and the Buffalo Bills are officially the biggest mess in the league.
It’s not a great sign for the team with the longest playoff drought in the league, which is 17 and likely counting. It is also not a good sign for Rex Ryan’s long-term future in Buffalo.
The offseason was rocked by injuries and suspensions. Now, two games into the regular season, the bad news is what the Bills have put on the field. They are 0-2 after losing at Baltimore, 13-7, on Sunday and then 37-31 to the New York Jets on Thursday night at home.
There was a fast and abrupt aftershock to the Bills’ poor start. The team fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman on Friday without any warning. Firings of assistant coaches during the NFL regular season is fairly unusual. Seeing a coordinator shown the gate eight days into the regular season is stunning.
Roman’s firing gives us an indication of what is going on in Buffalo. It’s panic and dysfunction.
The most alarming aspect here is that ownership is reportedly getting involved in football decisions. Please tell me whenever that has been a good idea.
The Buffalo News reported Friday that Bills’ owners Terry and Kim Pegula were dissatisfied with the team’s offensive performance last season even though the Bills led the NFL in rushing in Ryan’s and Roman’s first season with the team. The report said the Pegulas were unhappy with Roman’s unit in the first two games this season.
The newspaper reported ownership’s main concern was that the offense ranked 21st on third-down conversation last season, that there were communication problems this season on the sidelines and that Roman was slowly getting plays to quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The newspaper said the Pegulas had a meeting with Ryan on Friday morning to express their issues with Roman. Ryan then fired Roman.
Ryan said in a press conference that the decision to part ways with Roman was his own.
“I met with Greg this morning. We decided to part ways. It’s a decision I believe moving forward will help our team,” said Ryan, who has now on his sixth offensive coordinator in the past five season as coach of the Jets and Bill after promoting running backs coach Anthony Lynn.
It was duly noted that the Bills made the sudden change on offense despite allowing 37 points. Still, Ryan, a defensive specialist, said defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman is safe, as is his twin brother Rob Ryan, who is assistant head coach on defense.
“Certainly the defense has to improve, no doubt about that,” Ryan said. “But this is the move I felt we needed to make now.”
It is clear no one is safe in Buffalo if changes have already been made this early in the season. If ownership is truly part of football decisions the next person on the hot seat in Buffalo is probably Rex Ryan.
It’s clear the Pegulas, who have owned the Bills for two years, want fast results from Ryan, who is in his second season with the team. As he is known to do, Ryan talked big when he took over the Bills before last season. He talked playoffs. It hasn’t happened yet and the Bills are a not on solid footing yet under Ryan.
If this season spirals out of control, it’s fathomable that the Pegulas will lose their patience with Ryan and give him the same fate that Roman suffered Friday.
As for Roman, he has to put back the pieces of a once very promising career. When he was the offensive coordinator of Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers he was considered an up-and-coming head-coaching candidate. Now, he has to deal with the stigma of being fired two weeks into the season. Yet, I expect Roman to emerge as an offensive coordinator in the league next season.
The dysfunction in Buffalo is resonating loud clear around the league. Roman will probably be given the benefit of the doubt by prospective employers. Plus, he is now away from the mess in Buffalo, so he may be the winner in this situation.