The Buffalo Bills’ win over the Cleveland Browns doesn’t prove or indicate much, but Buffalo did exactly what it was supposed to do — dominate the NFL’s worst team en route to an easy victory.
And it means the Bills will enter Week 16, technically, still alive in the AFC playoff race.
All last week, a variety of rumors swirled and reports surfaced about Rex Ryan, many of which stated the Pegulas already had decided to fire him in the near future.
If the Bills owners’ minds were made up about Rex, and they truly were set to fire him after the loss to the Steelers, why have him coach the final three games?
Why not give Anthony Lynn a three-game audition as the head coach? Can’t waste any time in today’s NFL.
As Sal Capaccio tweeted last night, I really don’t think the Pegulas have made a decision yet. And that makes the most sense.
Because I’m of the belief that the Bills are much closer to being a dangerous playoff team than they are than to going 3-13 or 4-12, I don’t think cleaning house is necessary.
However, if the Pegulas view the Bills as a team nowhere near the AFC’s playoff clubs, then a house cleaning is logical. I could understand that idea. Start fresh. Start over. In that case, Russ Brandon would (justifiably) be the easiest chopping-block target, as someone who’s been in many prominent roles for the entirety of the drought. The same goes for long-time contract negotiator Jim Overdorf. Heck, if the Pegulas want to fire either of those two regardless of what happens over the final two weeks, go for it. I just doubt canning those guys would make nearly as much of a difference as some believe it would.
Unfortunately for the Pegulas, if they do clean house, the drought won’t just suddenly disappear. Sure, if they make it clear they’re attempting to bottom out in order to construct a winner from the ground floor, that philosophy will be accepted by fans... initially.
But the drought will still loom ominously. Patience won’t be fully restored. And, heck, even with an injection of patience — that’ll coincide with a sharp drop in fan interest — if the new regime, head coach, quarterback etc. don’t show clear-cut improvements, and I mean playoff-caliber competence, by, say, November of 2018, the calls to FIRE [insert names] and CUT [insert names] will, again, be deafening. And they could start earlier than that.
Wholesale changes to supposedly rid the organization of its dysfunction would actually prove the organization is exactly that... dysfunctional.
And really, what message would mass firings send to the next head coach?
“So you’re telling me the new owner came in, confidently hired Rex Ryan, then fired him two years later?”
Beyond that, more specifically, as I touched on last week and above in this column, the drought is having an increasingly more profound negative impact on the present-day Bills and the team’s future.
This millennium, no coach was received by Bills fans with such excitement and passionate acceptance as Rex just two years ago. But a mere 11 games into his Buffalo tenure — following the club’s eight-point loss in Arrowhead Stadium to the Chiefs in 2015 — the “Fire Rex” chorus began.
Yeah... 11 games.
If the Bills indeed miss out on the playoffs for the 17th consecutive year -- which is likely — the next head coach will only need to look back to 2015 to see the immense burden he’ll be shouldered with as Buffalo’s Rex replacement, coaching a team with an extremely agitated fan base ready to pounce if he doesn’t make the postseason... quickly.
The Bills aren’t exactly an organization that can sell itself on good job security for its head coaches. If they fire Rex after two close-to-.500 seasons at the helm, the Pegulas shouldn’t even utter the words “job security” during head-coach interviews.
The game on Christmas Eve against the currently No. 6-seeded Dolphins will have enormous implications on the future of the Bills’ franchise and many of its employees.
And if the general gist of many reports are to be assumed, a loss of any kind will almost assuredly mean the end of the Rex (and Whaley?) era in Buffalo. A win could mean both Rex and Whaley will return for 2017. And, yes, the season finale against the hapless Jets, regardless of if the playoffs are on the line or not, very well could (and to me, should) matter to the future of Rex, Whaley, and (probably) Tyrod Taylor.
Regarding Tyrod, barring a disastrous performance against Miami on Saturday, I believe he’s done more than enough to warrant the Bills to pick up his option, and, yes, let him represent a $15.9M cap hit in 2017. As Twitter user Josh McCarty pointed out to me last week, at the very least, Tyrod can be a serviceable bridge to the future at the quarterback position.
Objectively, a 1-1 finish is most likely, and it’d probably lead to Rex (and others) being let go. At that point, Rex would be the most successful Bills head coach of the last 17 years. Tyrod has been the most productive and efficient signal-caller of the past 17 years too. Think about those facts.
If the Bills go 7-9, or 8-8 for the second-straight year, the Pegulas need to be aware of all the repercussions that’ll come with the firing of their head coach and potentially others before they make any final decisions.