The Bills’ front office forced Rex Ryan to shake up his coaching staff after the team’s 37-31 loss to the Jets on Thursday dropped it to 0-2, reports the Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. That led Ryan to fire offensive coordinator Greg Roman on Friday and replace him with assistant head coach/running backs coach Anthony Lynn.
Ryan disputed the notion that the decision to make a change came from his superiors, telling reporters that he informed Bills ownership of his desire to move on from Roman on Friday morning. Bills owners Terry Pegula and Kim Pegula were supportive, Ryan said (Twitter link via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News), and Carucci writes that the Pegulas hadn’t been happy with Roman’s offense going back to last season. They expressed their concerns to Ryan on Friday, and he then took action, according to Carucci, who tweets that Roman was not a Ryan fan and had hoped to leave the Bills at season’s end.
“This was my move, 100 percent,” insisted Ryan (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).
Ryan denied that he scapegoated Roman, per Rodak, but the head coach did distance himself from his ex-assistant’s run-first philosophy (Twitter link).
“I want to be multiple. I want to be able to throw the football,” stated Ryan, who called dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor a “rare talent” and expressed a need to “showcase” his abilities (Twitter link via Carucci).
Thanks in part to Taylor’s legs, the Roman-led Bills had the top-ranked running attack in the NFL last season at 152 yards per game. That number has been more than cut in half in 2016, though, as Buffalo averaged a meager 75.5 rushing yards per contest in losses to the Ravens and Jets.
As a passer, Taylor – whom the Bills signed to a contract extension last month – completed 18 of 30 passes for 297 yards, three touchdowns and an interception Thursday. On paper, those are excellent numbers, but the bulk of Taylor’s success came on scoring tosses to receivers Marquise Goodwin and Greg Salas. He otherwise had difficulty connecting on short and intermediate routes.
Doug Whaley, the general manager who extended Taylor, is now “on notice,” as is the rest of the football operations department, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB (via Twitter). The long-struggling Bills showed some progress in Whaley’s first two seasons at the helm en route to a 17-15 record, but they’re now on track to miss the playoffs for a league-worst 17th consecutive year.
The chief reason for the Bills’ failures dating back to 2015 has been Ryan’s defense, not the Roman-coached offense. For his part, Ryan admitted Friday that the unit “has to improve” (Twitter link via Breer). The Bills’ defense was a below-average group last season after establishing itself as one of the league’s elite under ex-coordinator Jim Schwartz in 2014. Journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick carved up the unit Thursday, hitting on 24 of 34 passes for 374 yards and a touchdown, and the beleaguered Bills will next have to deal with Carson Palmer and the Cardinals’ high-octane offense.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.