With rumors circulating for weeks—even months—regarding Rex Ryan’s job security, it seemed a little odd that nothing had been said by a member of the Buffalo Bills’ organization on the matter since ownership talked about it in October. While Ryan has dealt with questions for weeks, higher-ups in the organization have remained silent since that October proclamation that any claims of a “playoffs or bust” ultimatum were false. That silence was broken today when GM Doug Whaley spoke with Howard Simon and Jeremy White.
Matthew Fairburn provided a transcript of the interview, as well as a link to the actual audio itself. The first question was the one that is bound to be of the most interest to most Bills’ fans regarding the matter, as the hosts asked Whaley point-blank whether Ryan would be the coach in 2017 or not. He responded:
That is about as PC a non-answer as one could give without merely saying “no comment.” On one hand, he makes a good point, as speculating about the future takes away from the task at hand, which is attempting to sneak into the playoffs through the smallest of backdoors. On the other, if this were the team’s actual line of thinking, why not just say that two weeks ago? Why allow the coach to twist in the wind? If perception is reality, it seems to many that the organization’s silence only allowed the speculation to grow, which could lead to distraction.
Mike Florio noted that possibility in a brief report on PFT (it’s not nearly as informative as the transcript itself—full disclosure!). He said, “So they’re focused on the games, but they’ll allow reports that Ryan will be fired to distract the players and coaches from the games.” He then postulates that Whaley’s explanation seems to give further credence to the belief that Ryan is out at the end of the season.
While Florio’s conjecture certainly takes a lot of liberties (assuming Ryan is distracted by the reports, as are his players, is the first big leap), it is at least rooted in some logic. If one is worried about whether or not he will still have a job tomorrow, he can’t possibly focus on the task at hand. Unless, of course, he is like all of us who go to work each day trying to be the best we can—like Whaley says, no one knows what the future holds, so it’s fruitless to worry about it, especially things that are out of one’s personal control. No one’s job is guaranteed, so theoretically, Ryan has nothing more to worry about than the next person in terms of distractions.
Whaley continued his comments by discussing the fact that he and Ryan work well together with regard to the roster (“I’ve learned his catch phrases and started using them, and he’s started using some of mine) while saying that he controls the “53” while Ryan controls the “46” (game-day roster). Whaley is not worried about his own job, and he said that any final decision on Rex’s future will actually be made by ownership, not him.
Finally, Whaley was asked about Tyrod Taylor, and he gave little information regarding next season, outside of “wait for the end of the movie” before making any final judgments.
Overall, Whaley’s comments probably mean little. Had he come out and given Ryan a full-fledged endorsement, the headline very well may have been something along the lines of “Bills’ GM gives Rex dreaded ‘vote of confidence.’” Instead, the headlines all read something about Whaley not supporting the head coach. Whaley himself said that he had never walked out of a movie before it’s over, since he always wants to “get [his] money’s worth.” That little metaphor indicates that these rumors probably will persist through the end of the season, and then an answer will come once the dust settles.
As another former Bill would say...”Get your popcorn ready.”