Rex Ryan is exceedingly unlikely to return as the Bills’ head coach in 2017, and if the club suffers an embarrassing loss to the Steelers later today, Ryan could be fired as soon as Monday, a source tells Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. If Ryan is let go, Buffalo would likely promote offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to interim head coach, according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News.
The Bills could still finish the 2016 campaign strong, and with four winnable games remaining on the schedule (Buffalo is set to face Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Miami, and New York), the club could win out, finish with a record of 10-6, and compete for an AFC wild card slot. Such a scenario remains unlikely, however — Football Outsiders gives the Bills just a 9.9% chance of making the playoffs — and Ryan’s crumbling status in Buffalo appears to have deeper roots than simply the team’s win-loss record.
Per La Canfora, the relationship between Ryan and general manager Doug Whaley is heavily strained, and Whaley may hold the upper hand given that he’s developed a “strong bond” with team ownership. Whaley and the Buffalo front office have repeatedly indicated that the Bills’ roster is better than its record, laying blame for this season’s results at the feet of Ryan, and have shared that belief with owner Terry Pegula. The Bills have seemingly decided against the idea of hiring a “football czar” to oversee operations — a role that Bill Polian and Tom Coughlin have been considered for in the past — meaning Whaley’s job should be safe.
Other personnel and coaching staff problems abound, such as the poor reaction to Ryan’s decision to hire his brother — longtime NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan — as a defensive assistant. Additionally, the Buffalo front office would like to see fourth-round quarterback Cardale Jones take the field at some point this season, as the club is highly unlikely to exercise its option on incumbent signal-caller Tyrod Taylor.
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