The Buffalo Bills made it official on Tuesday, announcing that head coach Rex Ryan has been fired.
The decision to fire Ryan was not a surprise as the move had been rumoured for weeks. However, the timing of the move — just days before the final game of the regular season — was a bit of a surprise and appears to have been related to a power struggle over the starting quarterback.
In addition to the firing of Ryan, the Bills have also reportedly benched starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, and the two moves appear to be related.
Schefter called the benching “a business decision,” noting that if Taylor had suffered a serious injury in the season finale against the Jets, the $30.75 million remaining on his contract would have become guaranteed.
Ryan was against the decision to bench Taylor, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, noting that Ryan continued to start Taylor even though “some in upper management” wanted him benched.
Rapoport also reports that general manager Doug Whaley wanted to start backup E.J. Manuel. According to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, it was Whaley who talked Bills owner Terry Pegula into firing Ryan now and replacing him with offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
In the Bills’ statement announcing the removal of Ryan, they wrote that the team and Ryan “mutually agreed that the time to part ways is now.” According to Rapoport, Ryan did agree to the move, feeling that it was “inevitable.”
“One reason for the timing of Rex’s firing: Rex Ryan felt it was inevitable and why go through a week then get fired anyway,” Rapoport wrote on Twitter. “Just do it now.”
However, it seems that if Ryan had acquiesced to Whaley’s desire to start Manuel, Ryan would be coaching the Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
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