The firing of Greg Roman was shocking. To fire the offensive coordinator 2 games (and 5 days) into a season only one year after he cobbled together the 12th ranked scoring offense in the league is the kind of move nobody sees coming. Any time something like this happens there is always going to be a ton of questions. Questions like:
Whose call was this?
What did Roman do to merit his dismissal?
Is Rex’s firing not far behind?
In the recent days since this bombshell news dropped, we’ve gotten different answers to these questions that offer differing levels of satisfaction for fans. But there’s a question I want answered that there hasn’t been as much focus on.
What’s the point?
We all judge offensive coordinators by the success of their quarterbacks. “Well duh Evan,” you may be inclined to say, but really think about it. How can you really judge what an OC is doing if their quarterback can’t do the basic things a he needs to do to be successful? An offensive coordinator can’t be in a quarterback’s ear telling them that a receiver is open to their right and they need to move up in the pocket to avoid the edge rusher about to sack them. An OC can’t tell a quarterback the exact velocity and trajectory to put on a pass. Coaching can only go so far when the players are on the field. If those minimal tasks cannot be properly executed, how can you really tell if play calling and scheme is a problem or not? The answer is that you can’t with any certainty, barring egregious cases.
This all comes back to Greg Roman. Through 2 games the offense has sputtered. They can’t get the ball to their best playmakers enough and last year’s dominant running game has been MIA. We may not know if Roman is doing a bad job or not but we know with certainty that it hasn’t been a good one. If you look at the play of Tyrod Taylor, his game against the Ravens may have been the worst of his career, receivers running routes that Greg Roman called were open and Tyrod flat missed them. The Jets game was slightly better, but save a few deep balls, was largely the same. I say all of this not to say Greg Roman shouldn’t have been fired, like I mentioned previously it sure seems like he’s not doing a great job. Hell, maybe he should’ve been fired for the 4th and 1 fiasco with EJ’s hard count, wasting a time out and then proceeding to run ball straight into the line in the biggest play of Thursday night. However, with Tyrod playing this poorly it’s so hard to really know what Roman is doing. So why fire Roman then?
If the Bills are to be believed that this was Rex’s decision made with ownership’s blessing, then the Bills made this decision purely to “mix it up”. They’re changing the equation, without having any idea what the new outcome will be except just hoping whatever new answer that pops out is better than the old one. When asked what new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will bring to table both he and Rex rolled out a cavalcade of buzz words. They talked about “building an identity”, “being more aggressive”, or my new personal favorite, wanting the offense to be “multiple”. These words all ring hollow when you consider that Lynn will just be running his own variation of Roman’s offense. This move is closer praying to a rain god to end a drought than a calculated business decision. Greg Roman was essentially sacrificed in an effort to improve the Bills fortunes. I’m not saying this to defend Greg Roman. I actually don’t think it matters that much who the OC is if the quarterback doesn’t play well. But there’s a non-analytical, reactionary, desperate and superstitious vibe to all of this that I absolutely hate.
In fact this move follows an alarming pattern for the Bills, the firing of offensive coordinators in order to salvage the play of subpar quarterbacks. 11 offensive coordinators in the 16 years of the drought. Many of those coordinators probably did deserve to get fired, regardless of how bad the quarterback was playing for them. However to break up the offensive coordinator and quarterback responsible for the best Bills offense in years only 18 games into their time together, only to replace him with a 1st time OC in Anthony Lynn who has never called plays before and will be running just a variation of Roman’s offense tells me something. The Bills, despite new management and ownership, are still acting like superstitious tribesmen doing a rain dance in the middle of the Sahara trying to end a drought. This move may work out, Anthony Lynn and Tyrod may click and we’ll look back at this move as a turning point. Perhaps Anthony Lynn will unleash Tyrod and get Sammy Watkins the 12 targets a game he deserves. Trust me, there’s nothing more that I want than to be able to make fun of myself for writing this column as the Bills enter the playoffs. But it’s never just been about the results when it comes to Bills failures during the playoff drought, it’s about having a bad decision making process too. And this move only reinforces that as much as things have changed, they still remain the same.
– Evan Sally (Twitter)