The Buffalo Bills are officially under new leadership… for approximately one week. With the in-season firing of now former head coach Rex Ryan, the Bills will be operating all week with offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn as the man leading the way. As part of his head coach responsibilities, Lynn met with the media on Wednesday.
With the most reporters and cameras that were seen in the media room all season long, here are five takeaways from his first press conference with a brand new title:
1) Whaley, front office made decision to bench Tyrod Taylor, not Anthony Lynn
- With a new head coach, the Bills are also going in a new direction at quarterback. Lynn officially announced that Tyrod Taylor has been benched in favor of EJ Manuel, a move that was called a “business decision” and early on in the press conference, it was “our decision.” Just moments later, Lynn sang a little bit of a different tune. Here was the complete question and answer, that unearthed that Lynn actually had nothing to do with the decision:
Question: Did it have anything to do with the potential ramifications of Taylor’s contract if he got hurt?
Lynn: Yeah I don’t… I don’t… I don’t know about that. Yeah, I wasn’t in that meeting when that decision was made, so, I don’t know.
Question: Wait a minute, what decision in what room weren’t you involved in?
Lynn: I’m not clear about where you’re going.
Question: You said, I wasn’t in the room when that decision was made.
Lynn: I’m just saying, it was not my decision, right there.
Question: Which decision?
Lynn: You’re saying, the decision not to start Tyrod.
Question: That was not your decision?
Lynn: That’s what you asked me, yeah.
Lynn was then asked again if it had anything to do with the potential $30 million injury guarantee if he Taylor were to get injured, and Lynn replied, “I can’t speak for the owner. I can’t speak for the GM. They have to speak for themselves.” Lynn was put in a tough spot with the entire situation, and specifically with the decision to start EJ Manuel. It’s abundantly clear that Doug Whaley is the man making the call on who to start in Week 17, and he was nowhere to be found to answer any questions about it.
2) Lynn keeps door open on Tyrod
- The decision to bench Tyrod Taylor for the final week of the season indicates that the Bills don’t want to be trapped into the contract with him and the guaranteed money that goes along with it, but, at the very least, the interim head coach at least kept his options open with the 27-year old quarterback. When asked about Taylor, Lynn responded that he saw a young quarterback with potential, and “it would be interesting to have him for an offseason to see exactly where he can go.” Now, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee that if it’s Lynn coming back as the full-time head coach in 2017, Taylor will be brought along with him as his quarterback. But it at least shows that one man that could have a stake in the game is at least intrigued by what Taylor can become by working with him for a full offseason. The book looks written, but it certainly hasn’t gone through it’s final edits, nor has it been published just yet, so to speak.
3) Cardale, not Taylor running with the second team
- During his press conference, Lynn made mention that the organization want to see what the other two guys at quarterback have to bring to the table — meaning both EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones. While he wouldn’t say that Taylor would, in fact, be inactive for the regular season finale against the New York Jets, he did mention that they might “dress all three.” At practice, it certainly didn’t look like Taylor was all that active. In the portion of practice the media was allowed to see, Taylor didn’t do much of anything, as seen below:
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) December 28, 2016
You have to feel for Taylor, who is just coming off the best performance as a starting quarterback in his life, and now he’s been relegated to No. 3 duties at the quarterback position. During the session, Cardale Jones was taking the second-team reps, while both Anthony Lynn and offensive assistant Chris Palmer took turns going up and talking to Taylor as he watched from the side.
4) Lynn not thinking long-term, but says “I want to be the guy here”
- By the accounts of many, Anthony Lynn is more than just your average interim head coach — he has a legitimate chance to take the job for the long-term. He’s an intriguing candidate because he was worked well with the offense in the time that he’s taken over as offensive coordinator, and the Bills seem to be quite happy with him as a part of their coaching staff. However, Lynn isn’t going to focus in on the bigger picture until at least after Sunday is over and done with. He’s essentially got an audition with the organization to show that he would be a solid candidate as the head coach against the New York Jets on Sunday. Without using the best quarterback that they have on the roster, it’s not an ideal situation for Lynn by any stretch of the imagination, but it will have to do — especially if they manage to win in convincing fashion on Sunday. Lynn did relent a bit when pressed on the matter, saying that he absolutely wants “to be the guy here” for the long-term — it’s just something he can’t afford to focus on with so much to do the rest of the week.
5) Lynn has “good” relationship with Whaley
- With how much things reportedly devolved with general manager Doug Whaley and the last two head coaches of the Bills — Doug Marrone and Rex Ryan — his relationship with the next head coach is going to be of utmost importance — especially now that the Bills are doubling down and making sure that everyone knows that he is going to be the one that leads the search and makes the decision on the next head coach of the team. So, what is Lynn’s relationship like with Whaley?
“It’s been good. I don’t deal with Doug a lot, but the times I have, it’s been great.”
With whoever the next head coach, whether or not Whaley can play ball with that person is going to be critical to the operation. The fact that the two sides have a good relationship as a starting point, it’s certainly a positive moving forward if Lynn is going to be the guy. Lynn also doesn’t seem to harbor any resentment over the choice to let Rex Ryan go, even though he did admit that he didn’t want to see him go, but seemed to indicate that it’s just part of the business. Whaley doesn’t have any wiggle room with his upcoming hire — he has to get it right and make sure the relationship between head coach and general manager doesn’t go astray like it reportedly has the last two times.