Anthony Lynn's inaugural press conference as the Bills' head coach was not exactly a public relations triumph. It was, quite predictably, the latest installment in the Pegulas' amateur hour production as pro sports owners.
Lynn's big presser got off to a rough start when he was asked who would be his starting quarterback in Sunday's finale at the Jets. He blurted out "Cardale Jones," then corrected himself and said it would be "EJ Manuel".
Of course, it shouldn't have been a surprise if Lynn was confused about the identity of his starting quarterback. He wasn't in the room when management made the call to sit Tyrod Taylor against the Jets.
Initially, Lynn called it a "business decision." When questioned moments later , he said it was "our decision". But when I asked if the move was made to avoid a massive hit on the 2017 salary cap in the event of a major injury to Taylor, Lynn replied, "I wasn't in the meeting when that decision was made, so I don't know."
Wait a minute, I asked him. You just told us it was a group decision, but now you're saying you weren't in the room when it was made?
Lynn confirmed that.
So did it have anything to do with the $30.75 million on his contract?
"I can't speak for the owner," Lynn said. "I can't speak for the GM. They have to speak for themselves."
That would have been nice. But management sent Lynn out there alone Wednesday for his first media session. GM Doug Whaley, who forced Rex Ryan out as head coach, wasn't there to answer questions about it. Neither was the team president, Russ Brandon, who surely had some input in the decision to whack Rex.
Kim and Terry Pegula weren't there, either. At this point, you assume the owners won't show their faces in a crisis. I'm still waiting for them to explain why they fired Lindy Ruff, or why they decided to raise Sabres ticket prices on Fan Appreciation Night a few years back.
Oh, they were front and center when Ryan came rolling into town two years ago, talking about building a bully and promising to take the Bills to the playoffs. Terry Pegula smiled like a kid on Christmas that day and said, "We want the Bills to be a nightmare to play against."
Instead, Ryan became the nightmare. The Pegulas were forced to eat the final $16.5 million of Rex's deal. And rather than show their faces and support their interim coach, they took the coward's way out -- all of them, including Whaley and Brandon, who led them to Ryan.,
They let Lynn twist in the wind, same as they'd done to Ryan after leaking out word that Rex would be fired before the Steelers game a few of weeks earlier. And they wonder why they're the laughingstock of the NFL.
No doubt, they'll tell us that Whaley was scheduled to take questions next Monday during the annual end-of-season presser. Why double up on press conferences. The apologists will remind us that NFL owners rarely speak with the public nowadays.
I'm sorry, they needed to do better than this. Ryan's firing is a major national story. It demanded immediate management response. I don't care if the obligatory season-ending news conference was five days away.
There were enough questions to fill up 10 press conferences. Why did they fire Ryan with one week to go? Did he refuse to sit Taylor? Who made the decision to sit Taylor? Was his contract an issue?
Ryan stood up there five times a week as a head coach, taking all the tough questions without flinching. It's not too much to ask management to hold two press conferences in five days during a time of major upheaval.
I felt sorry for Lynn. He said it was important to win Sunday, but wasn't allowed to play his best quarterback. They put him in an untenable position. They didn't have the basic smarts to involve him in the decision so he wouldn't have to stumble over the question later.
And you wonder why Mike Mularkey and Doug Marrone quit after posting the only two winning records of the drought. Now, two years after Marrone walked away with $4 million, the Pegulas are back where they were two years ago, looking for a head coach and looking like fools.
Brandon and Whaley somehow come out of this with their jobs intact and their power largely undiminished. At the risk of insulting a departed Hall of Famer, they're carrying on the dysfunctional legacy of the previous owner. This franchise remains an extension of Ralph Wilson.
In his later years, Wilson made big decisions for the wrong reasons, often out of stubbornness, spite and fear. He fired John Butler because Butler looked for a higher-paying job. He fired Wade Phillips over an assistant coach. He hired unfit general managers because he got burned by Tom Donahoe.
Now they're likely to hire Lynn, whose last head coaching job was in Pop Warner and who has been a coordinator for 13 games, as head coach. Maybe they'll get lucky. You never know who is going to succeed in the head role. Lynn might be a natural who simply needs a chance to prove it.
But as usual, they'll be doing it because they have no other options. Whaley, who should have gone out the door with Ryan, needs a puppet to maintain his power. At this point, it's hard to imagine anyone with an alternative coming to Buffalo and deferring to Whaley on roster moves.
Maybe they'll convince the Pegullibles that they have to hire Lynn because he's bound to be a hot head coaching candidate. They can't afford to let him get away.
That sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it? Brandon told Terry Pegula not to let Ryan get out of the building when they were swooning over Rex two years ago. They rushed to hire Marrone, presumably because they were afraid to lose him to -- yes -- the Browns.
They promised an "exhaustive" search before the Marrone hire. But they did the expedient thing. That's how the Bills have conducted themselves during the drought. They act with foolish desperation and try to pass it off as visionary planning.
So Lynn will probably get his chance. I wish him luck. He'll need it. Whaley has constructed a flawed roster that will undergo a major upheaval. He has no proven quarterback. I suspect that Taylor and his agent will look elsewhere for a team to overpay for his marginal passing skills.
Things are going to get worse before they get better. Before long, 8-8 will seem like the good old days. I see the Bills going, oh, 17-31 over the next three years and the drought reaching 20 years.
The Bills have announced that Whaley will lead this coaching search, but Lynn seemed confident he would get the job. But wouldn't you want to leave options open, I asked him?
"I'm not saying that I wouldn't leave my options open to be a head coach somewhere else," Lynn said.
Who could blame him?