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On the Pegulas, Rex Ryan and the firing of Greg Roman

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This is what we can accept as fact after two, slightly contrasting reports surfaced on Sunday about what transpired within the Buffalo Bills organization that led to the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

The Pegulas held meetings with players on Friday. Rex Ryan was not in the room during these meetings. That’s it.

The first report, published by Ian Rapoport, said Buffalo’s head coach was not privy to the idea of firing Roman and that it “was spurred by the Pegulas meeting with players.” Originally, Rapoport stated Rex wasn’t pleased with the players-only meetings but later added a note from a source that “Rex was fine with the meetings between the owners and players.”

Sal Capaccio’s series of tweets and subsequent article suggested the Roman firing was a long-time coming. And while Capaccio confirmed Rex was indeed not in the room with the Pegulas during their meetings with players, the owners conversational sessions with players has been commonplace for a while now. Also Rex, Doug Whaley and Russ Brandon meet with the players on a weekly basis.

Your overarching thoughts on this situation at One Bills Drive likely hinge on which report you believe.

It’s easy to dislike ownership stepping in on a “football-related” issue. Notoriously hands-on owners like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder immediately come to mind, and, actually, Capaccio commented on that exact idea:

In theory, no one wants owners to be involved with much of anything pertaining to the on-field product, especially during the season. I, for one, did not agree with Buffalo’s decision to fire Roman.

But owners walk an excruciatingly thin line between being “absentee” and “meddlesome.”

In actuality though, what the Pegulas apparently did was a diligent managerial practice. Think about it.

You don’t need to have three decades of football experience to notice something was wrong with the Bills’ on-field product through two games of the 2016 season. So what did the Pegulas do? Met with on-field employees of their organization to gauge their thoughts on the root of the problem(s). Sure, Tyrod Taylor isn’t going to lump all the blame on himself, but clearly he and other Buffalo players weren’t exactly thrilled with what Roman has cooked up thus far. Also, I’m not going to insult Terry or Kim’s intelligence here. Just like all of us, I feel confident venturing a guess that they understand players aren’t going to totally condemn themselves.

It would have been one thing — and dangerously irresponsible -- for Terry and Kim to talk alone after the Bills’ loss to the Jets on Thursday night and, themselves, come to the conclusion Roman should be fired.

That would’ve exemplified “non-football people” making a concrete, football-related move. But they got input. That’s vital.

The Bills defense was gashed against the Jets. Rex absolutely deserves blame.

But the Pegulas are in somewhat of a pinch with him — they still owe him nearly $20 million, and a coordinator is almost always going to be shown the door before a head coach. But remember too — 33.3% of Buffalo’s offensive yardage through two games has come on three, yes, three of its 98 plays.

The Bills have four drives of 10+ plays thus far. One has led to a touchdown. They also have four drives that have netted negative yardage. Outside of two big, relevant scores against New York and a sustained touchdown against the Ravens, Buffalo’s offense has been bad.

I’m not trying to insinuate Roman was the only issue. In fact, I’m a firm believer that players are considerably more crucial in the NFL than coaches. Buffalo’s offense was good in 2015, and he has a proven track record. Without question.

What I mean to try to be getting across is that it’s not unfathomable to believe players had ammunition to use as a catalyst for Roman to be fired when they talked with ownership behind closed doors.

Should players be held more accountable? I think so. Especially in the NFL. It’s significantly easier to elevate an assistant coach to a prominent position than it is to cut bait with your quarterback two weeks in and sign another, more competent signal-caller. In fact, the later is all but impossible. There aren’t any receivers available with more talent than Sammy Watkins. Players hold the power in these circumstances.

And, like I wrote a week ago, largely because of the ridiculous playoff drought, leashes and patience are shorter in Buffalo, which likely didn’t help Roman’s cause.

Something else to keep in mind while following this team. Relation is a foundational element of analysis. For example, saying a quarterback had a rating of 71 doesn’t mean anything on the surface. But if you say that 30 other signal-callers had a rating above 80, that indicates the quarterback with a 71 rating was ineffective relative to his contemporaries.

There are six other 0-2 clubs right now, including the Dolphins, the super-hyped Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington, the defending NFC East champion. In each of their sectors of the NFL landscape, hundreds, probably thousands of ardent followers and some local media members, etc. are going bonkers, thinking their team is the most dysfunctional mess in the league, and its doomed for a brutal, under .500 season. That’s just human nature now in today’s instant gratification society.

The season isn’t even close to being over for any of those teams. And we all know the NFL is an amazingly unpredictable league, even week to week.

Would I have stayed the course with Roman? Yes. Do I think the Pegulas were overstepping their bounds talking to players to get a tenor of what was transpiring on the field to potentially make a move before it was too late? Not at all. In fact, I respect the owners’ concern and willingness to make a bold decision.

In the end, winning changes everything, and the Bills need to start doing that to change how their fans feel about the team and organization as a whole.