Sources: Roman firing was \"about eighteen games, not two\"

Sal Capaccio
September 18, 2016 - 12:33 pm

Photo: USA Today Sports


By Sal Capaccio

Twitter @SalSports


Less than 48 hours after the Bills made a bold - and unexpected - move to dismiss offensive coordinator Greg Roman, amid reports of secret meetings behind Rex Ryan’s back, two different sources have confirmed to me that there had been ongoing discussions regarding concerns of the offense since the tail end of last season.  Additionally, I’m told Ryan and other high-ranking members of the organization, including owners Terry and Kim Pegula, had met several times over the course of the offseason to address these concerns.


“It was a decision made based upon eighteen games, not two,” one source with knowledge of these meetings said.


The Pegulas did indeed have a meeting with several members of the offense Friday morning following the team’s 37-31 loss to the New York Jets on national TV.  Ryan was not present for the meeting, as reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.


However, I’m told, it’s not uncommon for the two owners to sit down with players outside the presence of the head coach and that this particular get-together did not occur behind his back, contrary to various reports.


“The owners meet with Rex before and after every game,” a separate source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.  “They meet with Doug, they meet with Russ (referring to GM Doug Whaley and team president Russ Brandon), and they sometimes meet with players.”


The source went on to say that any notion that Rex was upset about that happening Friday is “100-percent inaccurate.”


Ryan had expressed his own concerns with ownership in these meetings during the offseason.  Some of them included the offense not utilizing Tyrod Taylor’s strengths more, getting the ball into its playmakers like Sammy Watkins’ hands enough, and Roman not being inclusive enough when it came to game-planning.  


Roman is like a mad scientist, I’m told.  He likes to get in his lab, so to speak, and come up with his own way of attacking an opponent, without getting as much input from his assistant coaches or players as other coordinators may.


Ryan had addressed these concerns, and was hoping they would lead to change in 2016.  Two games in, they did not.  And because of that, it became apparent things wouldn’t change going forward.  Not week 5, week 10, or by the end of the season once again.  So the head coach felt the need to make the move now, giving a chance to long-time assistant Anthony Lynn to fix what Roman either couldn’t or was unwilling to.


“I believe we’re going to do what we can to put the ball in our playmaker’s hands and I think Anthony will do that,” Ryan said in his Friday press conference after relieving Roman.  He then went on to say he felt Lynn would be part of an “inclusive” staff, which goes hand-in-hand with the aforementioned less-inclusive approach by Roman.


“I’m not going to get into the past and all that,” he said.  “I’d rather look at the way Anthony is and understanding that we have a coaching staff that’s been together and it’ll be an inclusive staff that obviously Anthony is going to be the guy making the call.”


It was apparent Ryan was frustrated with the offense following the team’s 13-7 loss at Baltimore week one. 


“One thing that wasn’t good was obviously our performance yesterday, especially offensively,” he said the day after that game.  “As we mentioned, you know, tape doesn’t lie and we really struggled. And we clearly have to get better in a hurry…..and oh by the way we’re playing against even a better defense (Jets). So that’s tough but we’ve got to find a way to get better clearly.”


With all eleven starters returning on that side of the ball, including four pro bowlers, conventional wisdom was that the Bills would be able to build upon and be even better than last year when they led the league in rushing yards per game and per play, as well as TDs from outside their opponents’ red zone.  But through two games, Roman’s former group is 27th in rushing yards per game (75.5) and 24th in yards per play (3.51).  Their top wideout Watkins has only six targets.  


“Yeah. That’s part of it, that you would think that,” Ryan said that Monday morning referring to having so many players back on offense.  “We were excited about it. We thought, obviously, that we were going to play better. We had some practices leading up to it, so there was no indication that we were going to go out and play like we did….We got to look at us at first, what we’re asking ourselves to do. Do we have too much in? Do we have too little in? We got to look at all those types of things and come out with a great plan that our guys feel confident in because I tell you what, we have to get a lot better or it can be ugly against (the Jets).”


It wasn’t as ugly in week two, but after four more three-and-outs, and two more drives five or less plays Ryan had seen enough and made his decision.


So, knowing he had already had plenty of discussions with his owners, and figuring they would support him, he knew the door would be open for him to make the move and inform them.  Predictably, they didn’t stand in his way.



Follow me on Twitter @SalSports

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