ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Rex Ryan insists that he's not panicking, but firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman two weeks into the season certainly smacks of a desperate move for a coach who might be starting to feel the heat turned up.
Roman looks a bit like a scapegoat with his firing just 18 games into his tenure as Ryan's hand-picked OC.
The Bills got off to an awful start in their 13-7 loss to Baltimore when they managed just 160 yards, their lowest output in a decade.
And despite putting up 24 offensive points in a 37-31 loss to the New York Jets, there were problems that not even two long touchdown passes of 71 and 84 yards could mask. The Bills were unable to stay on the field and sustain drives, which was also a major issue in Baltimore.
Ryan steadfastly claims the decision was his alone, but it is known that team owners Terry and Kim Pegula met with several players in private meetings. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and wide receiver Sammy Watkins were among them.
"I made the decision on letting Greg Roman go, that's it, final, I made the decision," Ryan continued. "In regards to the reports about how players were seeing ownership, that happens all the time. They talk to our players, everybody.
"I'm in full support of our owners and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter, does it? They own the football team, they don't need permission to talk to anybody. I have no problem with it, I think it's a real positive thing for us."
Whether the Pegulas or Ryan made the call is irrelevant, though. The Bills need to move on quickly or their already sinking season could be over by the start of October. The Bills host Arizona on Sunday and then travel to New England on Oct. 2. An 0-4 start not only is a real possibility but a probability.
Ryan tried to spin the doom and gloom by saying that maybe playing the Cardinals this week will do the Bills some good. As good as Arizona is, it will take supreme focus and a superb effort to beat the Cardinals. And if the Bills can pull it off, they might regain whatever confidence they have lost.
"Anybody who watched the Cardinals this past week realizes the task at hand," Ryan said of Arizona's visit to New Era Field. "If they're not the best team out there, they're certainly one of them. We know what we're facing, and I'll be honest, it's an impressive group, there's no doubt.
"Bruce Arians does a great job and he has those guys humming right now. It might be the best team in the league and maybe this is the exact team we need to play. And it's back-to-back weeks, by the way. Bruce Arians this week and Belichick next week.
"There's a few more easier options than those two, but maybe this is what we need. We've had struggles, we've been far from perfect, but we'll see how we measure up against maybe the best in the league."
Anthony Lynn has been promoted from running backs coach to offensive coordinator, a position he has never held. Lynn is a respected coach with 17 years of NFL experience, and half of that has been spent with Ryan, first in New York and now Buffalo.
Lynn had offseason head-coaching interviews, and Ryan is convinced that someday he'll land a gig somewhere in the NFL. For now, he is charged with rejuvenating an offense that has lots of talent but scant results.
The Bills rank 30th in the NFL in total yards, 29th in passing yards, 29th in third-down efficiency and 31st in first downs. Roman paid the price.
One of the players the Pegulas met with was Watkins, though he said it really wasn't that big of a deal.
"I think it was more so what we need as a team," he said. "I think it went well. I wasn't asked anything; just kind of showed up, like, 'hey, we need to talk.' It had nothing to do with anybody, it just had to do with the players and I think it went well."
Ryan on Wednesday looked like a beaten man as he met the media, a unusual visage for a man who typically jokes and has fun with reporters.
"I've never been 0-2 in my NFL career, about 20 years, I guess, so I never really know how to feel, but I feel rotten," he said. "I don't want to let people down, I don't want to let this team down, don't want to let our fan base, so it's important to me.
Yet now, let's go man. I'm doing whatever I can to avoid being 0-3, albeit against one of the best teams in the NFL."