Near the end of the 2015 season, there was a report that Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula were going to fire coach Rex Ryan and General Manager Doug Whaley if the team didn’t make the playoffs in 2016.
That was refuted, but the feeling took enough hold around the team that guard Richie Incognito said he felt the “unspoken rule” around the team was that “it’s playoffs or bust for us.” Terry Pegula says that’s not the right read on the situation.
Pegula told Tom Pelissero of USA Today “no way” when asked if the stakes were playoffs or bust in Buffalo and said he wasn’t even in Buffalo when he was supposed to have told Ryan and Whaley about his expectations for this season. Pegula said that the team’s players and coaches “need to know there’s stability” and that things won’t work if you’re constantly making changes.
The Bills did make one change to their coaching staff this year when they fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman after two losses to open the year. Reports at the time pointed to the Pegulas as the drivers for that decision, something Ryan disputed and Pegula also discussed with Pelissero.
“Rex had been talking about it,” Pegula said. “Any well-run organization, everyone has to communicate with each other. It was just a situation where he — and we were in agreement — felt that we needed the change. A lot of people said, ‘Oh, Rex is covering his ass. Why not fire himself because his defense was bad?’ Well, guess what? Our offense put the defense on the field the first two games for pretty much the whole first quarter, which set the tempo for the games.”
It’s obviously easier to take the position that stability is the right path when your team has won four straight games than it would have been at 0-2. If all goes well for the Bills, Pegula will be singing the same tune come January and the notion of playoffs or bust will have busted without any need for further explanation.