The optics were almost absurd.
The defensive-minded head coach using his offensive coordinator as a scapegoat the day after giving up 37 points and nearly 500 yards to a division rival. Oh yeah, and that OC piloted his own group to highlight-reel touchdowns of 84 and 71 yards.
There is more to it than that, of course, but that’s what the casual fan sees after Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills told Greg Roman to head back to the Jersey Shore hours after the team’s humbling 37-31 setback to the New York Jets — one which sent them to the abyss of 0-2 in a division which happens to contain Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
Ryan claimed he met with Bills ownership Friday morning after the loss and expressed an interest in moving on from Roman in favor of Anthony Lynn, who was promoted from running backs coach to steer the offensive ship moving forward.
“I’m accountable for everything that goes on,” said Ryan. “And I’m also accountable for these decisions.”
That’s a 180, however, from a Sporting News report that claimed Ryan was pressured by Terry and Kim Pegula, the Bills’ owners, to bring them the pelt of Roman’s career in Western New York as a sacrifice if Rex wanted to continue his own, ostensibly to please their grumbling fans who haven’t seen a playoff team since 1999.
Ryan denied that aspect of the story.
“This is my move, without question,” the embattled coach said.
However, it went down, though, misses the bigger point in that Ryan has been an abject failure as a defensive-minded coach since arriving in Buffalo.
You can certainly complain about Roman, whose offense managed just seven points and 160 total yards in a Week 1 loss in Baltimore. And even though that turned into 31 points (seven from the defensive side) and nearly 400 yards of offense against the Jets, nearly 40 percent of that came on two plays.
It simply wasn’t aesthetically pleasing to watch Buffalo play offense through two weeks, but it was Shangri-La compared to watching Ryan’s stubborn attempts at calling a defense, which kept using a single-high safety look while leaving the cornerbacks on an island against the Jets despite the fact they were getting gashed time and time again.
Then you have the actual empirical evidence.
Things like the fact that the Bills were 13th in offense and 12th in scoring in 2015 under Roman with a first-time starting quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. Conversely, Ryan took a top-five Jim Schwartz defense that led the NFL in sacks the year prior and turned it into a unit that was ranked No. 19 and couldn’t get to the quarterback.
Obviously, this is a desperate move designed to distract those who are preparing their torches and pitchforks as we speak, but there were better and more meaningful ways to accomplish that, like pulling the plug on the nepotism angle by telling Rob Ryan to go home a little early or using defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman as the message.
That said, all of this is simply putting the Band-Aid on a broken leg. Roman can take solace in the fact that when it’s all said and done, he will have only beaten Rex out of Buffalo by a couple of months.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.