When Buffalo Bills’ interim head coach Anthony Lynn took to the podium yesterday for the first time in his new role, the quarterback question was already in the air. Lynn told the reporters what they all knew—benching Taylor is a “business decision” and nothing more—but that wasn’t the only thing he discussed in his media session yesterday.
On His Prospects for the Future
“I don't, as far as the permanent head-coaching job, I'm really not thinking that far down the road because I don't want to miss out on anything right now. I want to stay in the now. And like I said, I want to get this team ready to go to go out and play the best we can to play the New York Jets.”
This answer is about as close to “coach-speak” as Lynn came yesterday. He was asked multiple times about making a case for the head job (“I wouldn’t want to be evaluated on just one game”), but also said that he would keep his options open. He did ultimately say that he wants to be the head man here in Buffalo.
On Tyrod’s Mindset and Performance
Q: How did Tyrod react to the news?
Lynn: Oh, disappointed. He's a competitor. He wants to play, but he understands.
Of course Taylor is disappointed. He just played the game of his professional career, and now he’s been benched for a business decision. All you have to do is see this clip of Taylor at practice yesterday to see the frustration he’s feeling.
“What I've seen is a young quarterback who has a lot of potential if he can continue to develop. You know, it would be interesting to have him for an offseason and see exactly where he can go. There are some things that you're asking him to do during a season that quarterbacks are just not going to do because there's some trust there. You get that in OTAs and minicamp and training camp, but it's hard to get a guy to do something and trust it during a game...Not necessarily the right places. I want him to throw to the right places all the time, but throwing balls in the middle of the hashes and concepts and things like that. Those are things that are drilled with footwork, timing and technique and those are things that you get done in the offseason.”
When asked about Taylor’s performance and chance for growth in the offseason, Lynn was fairly straight-forward. He clearly thinks Taylor is talented, and also seems to want the chance to install his own concepts over an offseason period with him. Later, Lynn noted that Taylor is “somewhat cautious with the ball,” which he considered to be a positive trait, because Taylor “gives you a chance to win because he does not turn the ball over.” All of these things seem to indicate that a Lynn hiring as the full-time head coach would mean a third year of Tyrod Taylor as Buffalo’s quarterback.
On Rex Ryan
“You know, obviously, with him being my head coach and a friend, I wanted him to get more time. But this is a business. As much as a like to think football is a relationship business, there is a business side of it. Ownership made that decision, and there's nothing you can do about that now but move forward.”
It’s never easy when you work with your friend and management decides to elevate you and replace your friend. Lynn’s long-standing coaching relationship with Rex Ryan encompasses every year of Ryan’s tenure as a head coach. While Lynn clearly didn’t want Rex to go, it’s also clear that he was not going to take the bait and throw Rex under the bus when answering questions. When asked about the decision to punt against Miami on Christmas Eve, Lynn “backed his head coach” rather than flame him. When asked about Rex’s lack of control over player discipline, perceived or real, he said:
“I'm not going to sit here and say that Rex wasn't detailed or didn't hold players accountable, because I feel like he did, but we all do things differently in a different way. We were raised by different mamas, so my worldview is a little different than his or anybody else's.”
While this doesn’t outwardly say that Ryan lacked the kind of detail-oriented approach that Lynn himself would take, it does suggest that they go about their business a bit differently.
At the end of the day, this whole press conference felt like it was happening in bizarro world. The new head coach was asked questions about decisions he did not make, but was then supposed to answer with the company line while still trying to make it sound as if he had been part of the decision-making process. From an employer standpoint, you want your head man to face up and back the company; however, it’s difficult to force anyone to go out there alone without someone who was part of the decision-making process. Leaving Lynn twisting in the wind is not a good look.
Some would say that it wasn’t a good look for Lynn to buck the organization’s line. Friends and fellow Bills’ fans I’ve spoken with have suggested that Lynn’s frankness yesterday might negatively impact his job prospects not only with the Bills, but with other teams, as well. I can’t get on board with that line of thinking. If an organization sends its head coach out to deliver lines that he doesn’t believe in, then someone from the organization should be there delivering the lines instead. I don’t want a coach who blindly spouts lies. I don’t want a leader who says things that he doesn’t believe. That isn’t leadership. Leadership is standing up and taking accountability, something that Buffalo’s bigwigs avoided yesterday.
Buffalo’s upper-management, whether it’s Doug Whaley, Russ Brandon, or some other shadowy figure behind the curtain should have been there with Lynn.