So this is what happens when you allow a journeyman quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick to come back to Buffalo and have the game of his life in your home opener, exposing your supposed defensive genius in front of a national television audience.
You fire the offensive coordinator.
Real tough guy, that Rex Ryan. As soon as things got a little hot for the Bills' head coach, he proved what a fraud he really is by throwing Greg Roman under the bus. He presides over one of the most embarrassing defensive performances in Bills history and scapegoats his top offensive assistant as a result?
Wow. And you know who looks really foolish here? Terry Pegula, the sainted owner. I've thought from the start that Pegula had no clue about how to run a professional sports franchise. But I didn't think he was capable of a move this sleazy and transparent.
If Pegula was going to go out of character and fire someone this abruptly, it should have been Ryan. It's Rex who promised the moon and didn't deliver, Rex who took an elite defense last season and turned it into a shadow of itself, Rex who runs the whole bumbling show.
But of course, that would mean eating the rest of Ryan's five-year, $27.5 million contract. Whacking Ryan this soon would be a staggering humiliation for the Pegulas (Kim can hide, but she has blood on her hands, too). They can continue to place their flimsy hope in Rex, even though the majority of the Bills' fan base has already written him off as a joke.
How could they fire Ryan so soon after "Rex and Rob Reunite," the documentary that aired early this week courtesy of Pegula Sports and Entertainment? The Ryan brothers are stars, after all, an entertainment vehicle for the company on their bicycle built for two.
Did you catch Ryan in that show? It was an embarrassment, the Ryans being bleeped every five seconds and Rex trying to fire up his team by making it all about himself. At one point, he said he'd be the first "bleepity bleeper" to go if the team didn't win.
Well, as it turns out, Greg Roman served as a more convenient victim. Maybe we had it all wrong. Maybe it was Roman who was issued the ultimatum late last season after getting more out of the offense, and Tyrod Taylor, than many skeptics could have imagined.
This is even more outrageous than Dick Jauron firing Turk Schonert a few days before the start of the 2009 season because his offense wasn't simple enough. As you might recall, Jauron, the actual problem, was fired by Ralph Wilson in the middle of that season.
Look, I was no fan of Roman. His playcalling was uninspired at times. The Bills ranked low in third-down and red-zone offense last season. He was supposed to turn Tyrod Taylor into more of a pocket passer this season. All we heard in the summer was how Taylor was going to use the middle of the field more and take that next step.
Instead, it looked like the same old safe, conservative approach. Taylor came out in Baltimore with his best Trent Edwards impersonation, checking down to the flats and failing to attempt the difficult throws down the field -- the ones Fitz made Thursday night.
Maybe the embarrassment of making Fitz look like a Hall of Famer created a sense of panic at One Bills Drive. But if the people in charge go to pieces at the first sign of a crisis, what are the players to think? Are the offensive guys supposed to shrug when their boss gets pushed overboard and go on giving their best effort?
This was a classic case of covering your own rear end, and it's laughable. I imagine they'll sell it as a necessary move to get the most out of Taylor and hasten his development as a franchise quarterback worthy of that possible $90 million extension.
Maybe this is a cover for Taylor, who appears to have regressed since last season. They can't have the public thinking that Taylor isn't really that good. They're selling him as the hope, the franchise QB the fans have long awaited. Two weeks in a row, opposing defensive players said it was their strategy to "make Taylor be a quarterback."
That was Roman's job, and those comments might have inspired the people in charge to act. He and Ryan were not terribly close. So when things got hot at 0-2, Rex took advantage of an opportunity to go after him. If Roman was the real problem, this gives Taylor a clean slate to prove he's a franchise guy. People can judge him on the way he plays without Roman holding him back, right?
Roman was a rising star when he left the Niners, a guy who was interviewed for head coaching jobs, including the Bills before they fell for Ryan. He was the offensive coordinator when the Niners reached the Super Bowl and was credited with developing Colin Kaepernick into a viable NFL starting quarterback.
Kaepernick regressed, however. Perhaps running quarterbacks hit their ceiling earlier than pocket passers as opposing coaches figure out how to defend them. Taylor's limitations as a passer are more responsible for his slow start than Roman's coaching. But they couldn't fire Taylor or give his job to EJ Manuel.
Firing Roman gave Ryan an excuse to elevate running backs coach Anthony Lynn, one of Ryan's guys from his Jets days. Presumably, he'll be more comfortable with Lynn, who is said to be more of a run-first coach than Roman (though he wasn't exactly working miracles with the backs this year). The Bills did lead the NFL in rushing last season with Roman in charge, but why let facts get in the way of an old Rex buddy?
Roman becomes the latest assistant to be let go in favor of one of Ryan's pals. Karl Dunbar and Donnie Henderson were shown the door after last year's defensive disappointment. Last Tuesday, Ryan said the defense was playing better because he had a total commitment from all the players and coaches.
It was a clear shot at the departed guys, a convenient way to blame them for not following his proven program for defensive excellence. Bringing in his twin brother, Rob, would restore the defense to prominence. So who gets the blame for Fitz's astonishing play on Thursday?
Shame on the Pegulas, and Russ Brandon, and Doug Whaley, and Ryan and anyone else who stood by and watched this happen. Despite what Pegula wants to believe, this is a 17-year run of dysfunction, and throwing one assistant coach in the volcano hasn't fixed things before.
The Bills continue to be the laughingstock of the NFL. Pegula should be embarrassed for his franchise. If he's serious about wanting to get this right, if the man has any clue, this should be only the start.