The Buffalo Bills entered 2016 with playoff expectations following an 8-8 season. But after an 0-2 start, the Bills made a drastic move by firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and promoting Anthony Lynn to his position.
The decision was made after a 37-31 loss to the New York Jets on Thursday, where the team moved the ball well. But owners Terry and Kim Pegula weren’t happy with Roman’s offense dating back to last season.
According to USA Today, certain Buffalo players were also disenchanted with Roman’s style.
Despite the team leading the NFL in rushing last season, players complained that their offense lacked an identity. Players also reportedly felt like Roman would change the offense every week, rather than building on what the team was doing well.
“I haven’t talked to anybody that isn’t excited about the move,” said a source.
After the offense scored 31 points against a tough Jets defense, it seems like Buffalo’s defense, which gave up 37 points, should bear the blame. Still, there were technical issues that plagued Roman’s offense.
One of the most-notable was the poor two-minute drill execution when trailing 37-24 in the waning moments of the game. Greg Salas caught a short pass and was tackled inbounds with 2:20 to go. Buffalo should’ve been able to get another play off before the two-minute warning, but they weren’t able to.
Other issues included poor communication between the sidelines and Taylor, and a lack of third-down conversions. It all boiled down to the Pegulas putting pressure on Ryan to make a significant coaching staff change.
Nevertheless, Ryan claimed that it was his decision to fire Roman, who emerged as a star during his time with Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to ’14.
The hope is that by making this move earlier, rather than later, they can get a boost similar to the 2015 Detroit Lions, who fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi following a 1-6 start, then won 6 of their final 9 games with Jim Bob Cooter calling plays.
As for the replacement, Lynn, he played running back in the NFL for six years, then coached running backs for 10 years. He got a promotion after Ryan named him assistant coach of the New York Jets. This will be yet another promotion for Lynn, who’ll look to prove that he’s head coaching material.
“I believe Coach Lynn is going to do a great job,” said offensive guard Richie Ioncognito. “I’ve been around him for two years and he has a tremendous work ethic and ton of knowledge of this offense and what we’re trying to do. It falls back to believing.”
When Ryan came to Buffalo from the Jets last season, he claimed that the Bills would make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Unfortunately, injuries and suspensions didn’t help his case as the team fell to 8-8.
Things could be even worse this season because Buffalo lost key games against the Baltimore Ravens (13-7) and Jets. Up next are two elite teams in the Arizona Cardinals and (at) New England Patriots, bringing up the realistic possibility that they could start 0-4.
The Bills already play in a tough division, but the remaining out-of-division competition is also fierce. Games at Seattle (Week 9), at Cincinnati (Week 11), and against the Steelers (Week 15) will make Ryan’s postseason chances seem slim.
So if you’re betting on the Bills this season, keep in mind that they might become demoralized as they play through one of the league’s toughest schedules.
It’s unclear if Buffalo will consider keeping Ryan if the team fails to make the playoffs again. As they’ve shown by owning the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, the Pegula family isn’t afraid to get rid of head coaches.
On the other hand, they paid Ryan a big 5-year contract that’s worth $5.5 million a season. Even still, his job security will be in danger if he can’t pull off some upsets and keep this team performing well.