Missing the playoffs for a 16th consecutive season brought calls from fans and media for a second straight year of sweeping changes at One Bills Drive.
That isn’t going to happen.
Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula issued a statement Wednesday that, in so many words, said Doug Whaley will remain as general manager and Rex Ryan will stay on as head coach beyond Sunday’s season-ending game against the New York Jets.
“As our first full season as owners of the Buffalo Bills draws to a close, management, coaches, players, and fans all feel that our expectations were not met,” the statement said before referencing Pegula’s wife, co-owner Kim Pegula, and Bills Managing Partner and President Russ Brandon.
“Kim, Russ and I look forward to working and collaborating with Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan in forming a winning future for the organization,” the statement said. “Our management team and coaching staff are very capable and work well together. This stable foundation is necessary to achieve long-term success in the NFL.”
The statement made no specific references to a timetable, but a team source told The News after the statement was released, “Doug and Rex are solid.”
It is known, via a team source, that Whaley has one year left on his contract after this season. Another team source told The News that, per club policy, no discussion about contract extensions would take place during the season. Ian Rappaport of NFL Media reported last Sunday that there was a “better chance” Whaley would receive an extension than be fired.
Ryan, hired as the Bills’ 18th head coach last January after Doug Marrone’s decision to exercise a clause in his contract to leave the team, has four years remaining on his deal after this season. After the Bills’ Dec. 20 loss at Washington, Ryan said, “We have two games to prove that we belong here. That’s every coach, every player, everybody. And that’s just the reality of the business … You can read between the lines … I think any time you don’t reach your expectations or whatever, you got to look deep into why things happen.”
A week later, the Bills beat the Dallas Cowboys, although it’s unclear whether his players’ effort – which was far superior to their uninspired play through the first half of the Redskins’ game – had anything to do with the timing of Pegula’s statement.
It was notable that the statement mentioned the Bills’ management team and coaching staff “work well together,” an apparent response to multiple reports in the media – including The News – of friction between Whaley and the coaching staff.
An NFL source said that offensive coordinator Greg Roman was unhappy with Whaley’s decision to trade backup quarterback Matt Cassel to Dallas after the second game of the season in order to ensure that EJ Manuel would move into the No. 2 role behind Tyrod Taylor. The source said Roman had been “promised” that Cassel would remain on the team after being released at the final roster cuts in September and then re-signed three days later at a significantly lower salary.
During a radio interview Tuesday on WGR 550, Whaley said his relationship with Ryan “is something that I cherish.” Whaley also made a point of crediting Roman with the Bills’ improvement from 28th to 13th in the NFL in offense.
“I personally don’t understand why people think I wouldn’t be happy with that,” Whaley said during the interview. “Anybody should be happy with somebody who can take a first-year quarterback – a former sixth-round quarterback – and get him to lead an offense that’s in the top 15.”