ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan took full ownership Friday of the decision to fire offensive coordinator Greg Roman, telling reporters that he did not feel pressure from team management to make the move following an 0-2 start.
“This is my move, without question,” Ryan said, adding that he met Friday morning with owners Terry and Kim Pegula and that they were supportive of the call to part ways with Roman.
Roman, 44, was hired shortly after the Pegulas named Ryan their head coach in January 2015. The NFL’s highest-paid offensive coordinator, Roman was among about a dozen candidates to interview for the Bills’ head-coaching vacancy following the sudden departure of Doug Marrone.
The Bills replaced Roman, who previously served as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator from 2011 to 2014, with assistant head coach/running backs coach Anthony Lynn.
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“I think we need a change,” Ryan said Friday. “I think we have a lot of talent on offense. I believe that. I believe we’re going to do what we can to put the ball in our playmakers’ hands. I think Anthony will do that.”
Lynn, 47, served as Ryan’s running backs coach with the Jets from 2009 to 2014 before joining Ryan in Buffalo last season. The former NFL running back for the Broncos and 49ers interviewed for the Dolphins’ head-coaching vacancy and San Francisco’s offensive coordinator job this past offseason.
The change at coordinator comes less than 24 hours after the Bills fell to 0-2 with Thursday night’s 37-31 loss to the Jets. Buffalo’s offense gained 393 total yards in the game, bouncing back from a 160-yard outing in a season-opening 13-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Meanwhile, Buffalo’s defense allowed 493 total yards from the Jets’ offense, including 374 passing yards from Ryan Fitzpatrick, leading Ryan to say after the game he “never expected” the offensive success of the Jets.
Asked Friday why Roman was fired despite the defense’s struggles Thursday, Ryan responded, “I understand [the question]. Certainly the defense has to improve. There’s no doubt about that. But this, I think if it was appropriate to do something else, then I would have. To me, I thought this was the move that I felt that we needed to make to help our team moving forward.”
Ryan does not expect drastic changes to the Bills’ offensive playbook or terminology because the change at coordinator is happening during the regular season. Compounding matters for Lynn will be the Arizona Cardinals’ stout defense next on the Bills’ schedule in Week 3.
“I think, obviously, it’s going to be very challenging,” Ryan said. “There’s no question about it. [But] I think our players will be excited about Anthony running the show.”
Among the players that Ryan hopes benefit from the offensive coordinator shake up are quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who went 8-6 as a first-time starter last season before the Bills extended his contract this summer for up to five additional seasons.
“I believe [Taylor’s] ability as a drop-back quarterback, as a quarterback that’s athletic, we can do things with,” Ryan said. “I think he’s a rare talent. We have to do things that I think will showcase those abilities a little bit. He has some unique abilities.”
Ryan also wants to see top receiver Sammy Watkins, who has battled foot soreness early this season, catch the ball more often. Watkins has six catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns through two games.
“I think Sammy Watkins is a rare talent,” Ryan said. “I’ve had to defend against him and I know how difficult that was. I thought at the end of last year, we did a great job of getting him the football. I expect that we’re going to try to get him the football more and more.”