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Firing of Greg Roman highlights one of the problems of NFL coaching nepotism

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: Head Coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills looks on against the Baltimore Ravens in the second half of the game at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The offense stunk in Week One. The defense stunk in Week Two. So who gets held accountable: The assistant coach who didn’t share a womb with the head coach, or the one who did?

It’s a question that answers itself, thanks to the decision of Rex Ryan to add Rob Ryan to the coaching staff in the offseason. Regardless of whether offensive coordinator Greg Roman deserved to be fired roughly five days after the first game of the regular season kicked off, the fact that Roman received a pink slip so quickly serves as a clear reminder that Rob Ryan will not suffer that same fate as long as his fraternal twin runs the team — even if Rob Ryan deserves to go.

It’s the biggest practical complication arising from nepotism at the higher levels of an NFL coaching staff. Sometimes, a coordinator (in title or de facto) needs to go. But if he’s the brother, son (e.g., the Shanahans in D.C.), the son-in-law (e.g., Rod Marinelli and Joe Barry in Detroit), or some other relative of the head coach, he’s highly unlikely to leave.

And yet nepotism continues on coaching staffs, probably because nepotism is a reality among NFL ownership, where businesses are passed down from generation to generation. That could make some owners who employ and/or give equity to sons and daughter believe it would be hypocritical to not allow coaches to add family members to the coaching staff.

The hiring isn’t the problem. It’s the unwillingness to fire the relative, if an objective assessment of the situation suggests that termination is justified.

Rex Ryan believed Greg Roman deserved to be fired; Rex is in a better position to know that than anyone else. But what if Rob deserves to be fired? Rex surely won’t be doing it.

It’s a dynamic that raises the stakes for both of them, and it enhances the possibility that new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn could be getting another promotion on the day in November when the nation elects a new president — which also will be one day after the Bills play on a Monday night in Seattle and commence their annual bye.

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59 Responses to “Firing of Greg Roman highlights one of the problems of NFL coaching nepotism”
  1. TheAfterParty says: Sep 16, 2016 2:37 PM

    The Bills offense wasn’t good yesterday. But the Bills defense made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Tom Brady.

  2. sportnorcal says: Sep 16, 2016 2:38 PM

    It’s a shock that either Ryan has a job.

    Rex is a great coordinator, never been much as a head coach. Rob – I cant say anything good about.

  3. srgmac says: Sep 16, 2016 2:40 PM

    The defense stunk?
    I don’t think so…They played pretty damned good…They were the only reason the Bills even had a chance to win at all.

  4. YanksBills says: Sep 16, 2016 2:40 PM

    Do we know for certain that the Pegulas didn’t demand Roman’s firing?

  5. modehead says: Sep 16, 2016 2:41 PM

    The Bills offense has been putrid. The only positive plays they’ve had this season have been on broken plays that Tyrod salvaged.

    They all will be fired by February, but Roman coached his way out of town.

  6. PegulaBucks says: Sep 16, 2016 2:41 PM

    or Dennis Thurman the other DC or Ed Reed who was in charge coaching up the secondary that was torched or the GM, who signed TT to the new deal, is trying to lock up a DB to a huge contract that might be not so deserving, who signed a DT that cant stop smoking weed, who traded up for a WR in the most stocked WR draft ever too add him to his power run scheme for the coaching staff he then hired.

    Lots of deserving people on this staff. Roman was the lowest on the list in my opinion.

  7. logast says: Sep 16, 2016 2:41 PM

    This dumpster fire is going to be fun to watch. Rex and Rob are horribly overrated.

  8. jjackwagon says: Sep 16, 2016 2:42 PM

    The hiring of Rob indicated that the Bills were heading in the wrong direction.
    Rex has a had some small success in the NFL. Rob never has and is still living off daddy’s reputation.

  9. youafool says: Sep 16, 2016 2:43 PM

    @srgmac

    –Huh? The jets…The jets….not the pack, not the panthers…the Jets had almost 300 yards of offense in the first half? What is your criteria for a “bad” defense?

  10. harrisonhits2 says: Sep 16, 2016 2:44 PM

    Bills fans are already sick of the Ryan stench.

    What few fans were still in the stadium at the end of the game were booing the Bills heartily as they walked off the field. You could hear the boos clearly on TV.

  11. 3wordanswers says: Sep 16, 2016 2:45 PM

    Nepotism should be banned…..

    …..least that’s what my brother says……..

  12. ezpkns34 says: Sep 16, 2016 2:45 PM

    Can’t blame the coaches for trying to hire their relatives….need to hold the management responsible for allowing the conflict of interest to occur in the first place by allowing the hiring of siblings/in-laws/etc

  13. mack2x says: Sep 16, 2016 2:46 PM

    They both need to go, The Ryan Brothers are very overrated.

  14. nfloracle says: Sep 16, 2016 2:46 PM

    I don’t know. Jerry Richardson had the balls to fire both of his sons, and Rex talks a lot about having big cajones… so maybe Rob will be the next to go.

    Yeah, right… that’ll happen when pigs start flying and birds start snorting for truffles.

  15. tylerisntthere says: Sep 16, 2016 2:47 PM

    Let’s not forget that Rob Ryan is not the defensive coordinator of the Bills, Dennis Thurman is. Even if you want to call Rob the de facto D-coordinator, when is the last time a coordinator on either side of the ball was fired after literally two games with a franchise? Sure, Roman did a solid job with the Bills last year and ended up being the scapegoat for an 0-2 start, but to suggest Rob Ryan was the one who should’ve been let go is a bit of a stretch.

  16. GronkLikePizza says: Sep 16, 2016 2:51 PM

    Thursday night football sucks, and so does “color rush.”

  17. skawh says: Sep 16, 2016 2:52 PM

    What I don’t get is either Ryan being hired. Rex comes to Buffalo right after creating a dumpster fire in NY. I can’t recall seeing a HC doing so poorly and then immediately receive another HC job right down the street. Head scratching. Really!

  18. happy1114 says: Sep 16, 2016 2:54 PM

    At least Big Rex didnt engage in a fist fight with Roman like he did before firing Morningwig …..that we know of….He is a clown of a HC and only postering for a TV gig

  19. concretechuckles says: Sep 16, 2016 2:57 PM

    You can’t run a football team on bluster.
    You can’t double the bluster and expect better results.

  20. bobthebillsfan says: Sep 16, 2016 2:59 PM

    I used to enjoy the clown show that was the Jets when Ryan was there and I was sorry to see him get fired. I about puked my breakfast up when I heard the Bills had hired him. Then he hires his brother, who coached the Saints defense to a #32 ranking before being fired.

    Now I find myself looking over my shoulder waiting to see a flying trapeze act or a juggler or a lion taming act or Rex dressed like a clown. Is that a barker I hear?

    Going to be a very long season, I’m afraid.

  21. sdelmonte says: Sep 16, 2016 3:03 PM

    And of course nepotism further shreds the effectiveness of the Rooney Rule.

  22. thegreatgabbert says: Sep 16, 2016 3:07 PM

    The other problem of nepotism in this case is that Rob and Rex look like each other. There’s no escape, really.

  23. metlifeteardown says: Sep 16, 2016 3:08 PM

    The Jets have alot of skill position talent. The corners are a Bills strength. Forte had three yards a carry. Enunwa is making this team hard to stop. Huge, great hands, fast, agile. Look out. He can block linebackers too. Itsiks legacy.

  24. woodson28 says: Sep 16, 2016 3:08 PM

    Nepotism exists in every profession. Plenty of people advance up the career ladder quicker than they are ready for simply based upon their last name. It could be argued that the Ryan last name has afforded both brothers chances they wouldn’t have gotten if their last name was let’s say Nolan, Billick, or Fassel,

    With that being said, Rex was hired this off-season. Roman was the OC last year. Are you really advocating that Rob should have let go of Rex after two games?

  25. cosmoman11 says: Sep 16, 2016 3:10 PM

    Both Ryans will be gone within 2 weeks.

  26. mackcarrington says: Sep 16, 2016 3:14 PM

    The Pegulas hired clown Ryan because for some reason they thought he played well to the Buffalo fan base. Perhaps Mr. Pegula shouldn’t be involved in the hiring of the next head coach.

  27. buffalosunshine says: Sep 16, 2016 3:15 PM

    #firewhaley

  28. phil325 says: Sep 16, 2016 3:16 PM

    Hell, Florio. I don’t agree with you often, but your first paragraph here is classic. Thanks you. Rex is becoming a clown. What goes around is finally coming around. There is a God.

  29. medialovesthecowboys says: Sep 16, 2016 3:18 PM

    Everyone can take solace in the fact that this is the last stop for Rex as a head coach. And Rob’s last stop as anything.

  30. winged warrior says: Sep 16, 2016 3:19 PM

    i’m waiting with baited breath for the day that Hue Jackson , Marvin Lewis , Mike Tomlin ,Todd
    Bowles,Jim Caldwell , etc have the ability to name family members to their staffs so theY can be skewered equally when things go badly .

  31. chicagosportsfan11 says: Sep 16, 2016 3:23 PM

    Rex won’t have to fire Rob because he can simply take over his duties.
    The Bills D was down 3 prominent players and last of any drives on offense left the defense on the field way too long.

    2 seasons in and OFF WITH HIS HEAD but Jeff Fisher is gettings another 3 years.

  32. zombiepatriot says: Sep 16, 2016 3:25 PM

    Big surprise.

    a Rex Ryan team with a mediocre to bad offense.

    Maybe if he didn’t spend so much time on a love in with a defense and worked on building a complete team he wouldn’t have this issue.

    Read Collision Low Crossers what I got from it is he is a coach who is in love with defense at the determent of the offense. He creates a hostile situation with unhealthy competition.

    It is Greg Roman this week. What week will it be Rex?

    I’ll go with week 08.

  33. billsfan says: Sep 16, 2016 3:27 PM

    Last night, the Bills defense looked stunningly similar to the ’15 Saints’ defense. ‘Nuf said…

  34. razzlejag says: Sep 16, 2016 3:28 PM

    The Bills fans deserve better than this.

    The Bills hiring Ryan was a mistake and letting him then hire his buffoon brother was just unforgiveable. They need to clean house, simple as that.

  35. barometerrrrising says: Sep 16, 2016 3:30 PM

    I am shaking my head in disbelief that a coach on Offense got canned – they put up 31 points! The Bills defense was so bad I thought they had suited up a bunch of tailgaiters or something. The Jets put on a passing clinic all night. And then there was Forte’s TD where the only players within five feet of him were his teammates celebrating after the play. Yes, the Bills D had a few key turnovers, but if not for those, the score wouldn’t have been close. And yet Twin Buffoon #2 still has a job this morning. Unbelievable. Poor Buffalo fans, they deserve SO much better than this debacle.

  36. mogogo1 says: Sep 16, 2016 3:32 PM

    The count is now 5 OCs for Rex in 6 years. You’d think it should already be clear to the Bills what the common denominator is but then again Rob continues to get jobs despite his horrific history running defenses so who knows. The Ryan brothers somehow just keep getting jobs no matter what.

  37. fuzzebear says: Sep 16, 2016 3:34 PM

    Why Rex Ryan was hired in the first place is mind boggling. The stupid new owner of the Bills hires Rex from the Jets, the coach of the team the Bills beat the crap out of a few weeks earlier with the coaching staff the owner of the Bills eventually fired. Clueless. The owner of the Bills has absolutly no clue.

  38. 6ball says: Sep 16, 2016 3:35 PM

    .
    How about naming names? Doesn’t Jeff Fisher have relatives on staff? Wasn’t Lovie Smith’s son coaching the Bucs safeties at a time when 3rd and 17 was considered short yardage by opponents?
    .

  39. tonebones says: Sep 16, 2016 3:36 PM

    I want to know who’s decision it is to play with a QB that can’t function. Now that’s the guy who needs to be fired. Throughout the history of the NFL, coaches who had bad QBs got fired. Rex ain’t going to be around too much longer. Does anyone have video or audio of Rex’s press conference when he got hired? Now that would be funny to hear. He said they had the players to win right now. But then again, if he didn’t say that, he wouldn’t have been hired. So ultimately it comes down to the owners being stupid when they hire coaches. But then again, their franchise probably increased by about $1 Billion in the last few years so I doubt they’re losing any sleep over it. Sorry Bills’ fans. Blame the owner.

  40. savethebs says: Sep 16, 2016 3:37 PM

    I used to believe Rex was a good coach & he was hamstrung with a bad QB. His time in Buffalo has changed my mind. And Rob Ryan is an awful coach.

    But on nepotism. It’s prevalent in a lot of industries. It sucks when you work hard to get promoted & see people who are friends of friends or kids of friends move up just as fast or faster.

  41. ajg314 says: Sep 16, 2016 3:38 PM

    tylerisntthere says:
    Sep 16, 2016 2:47 PM

    Let’s not forget that Rob Ryan is not the defensive coordinator of the Bills, Dennis Thurman is. Even if you want to call Rob the de facto D-coordinator, when is the last time a coordinator on either side of the ball was fired after literally two games with a franchise? Sure, Roman did a solid job with the Bills last year and ended up being the scapegoat for an 0-2 start, but to suggest Rob Ryan was the one who should’ve been let go is a bit of a stretch.
    ———————————————————

    Absolutely correct. Listen, make the case all you want that Rob Ryan should be let go, or shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. Whatever. But Rob Ryan is not the offensive coordinator. That’s on somebody else. However, I will say that this is the same pattern that he had with the Jets. Fire the assistants first before actually firing the real problem. Rex Ryan.

  42. harrisonhits2 says: Sep 16, 2016 3:42 PM

    “The Ryan brothers somehow just keep getting jobs no matter what.”

    I think that’s indicative of the limited coaching pool available for the 32 nfl teams and the fact that many of the college coaches who might be good enough to make the jump are quite comfortable where they are and don’t want the additional bs that comes at the pro level.

  43. newmancave2016 says: Sep 16, 2016 3:42 PM

    srgmac says:
    Sep 16, 2016 2:40 PM
    The defense stunk?
    I don’t think so…They played pretty damned good…They were the only reason the Bills even had a chance to win at all.
    —————–

    Did you watch the same game? They were swiss cheese after the 1st quarter.

  44. pastabelly says: Sep 16, 2016 3:46 PM

    In all fairness, Steve Belichick is safeties coach in New England.

  45. joetoronto says: Sep 16, 2016 3:46 PM

    Pegula is extremely hands on and hired everybody. The problem starts at the top.

  46. edwinmoses says: Sep 16, 2016 3:54 PM

    lame narrative by the author. The defense was on the field the whole game due to 3 n outs. All you chumps jus look at the final score or actually watch the game

  47. ronfai says: Sep 16, 2016 3:54 PM

    Any Niners fan could have told you Roman is a bung OC, but that won’t fix this train wreck.

  48. joetorontoisaclown says: Sep 16, 2016 3:56 PM

    skawh says:
    Sep 16, 2016 2:52 PM
    What I don’t get is either Ryan being hired. Rex comes to Buffalo right after creating a dumpster fire in NY. I can’t recall seeing a HC doing so poorly and then immediately receive another HC job right down the street. Head scratching. Really!
    ___________________________________
    You have to remember that the Pegulas just bought the team and wanted a “name” coach and none would come. I’m sure in person Rex did a great job selling himself to a nonfootball owner.

  49. dohczeppelin says: Sep 16, 2016 3:59 PM

    logast says:
    Sep 16, 2016 2:41 PM
    This dumpster fire is going to be fun to watch. Rex and Rob are horribly overrated.
    _________________________________
    Overrated? Who rates them highly? Everyone in Buffalo hates them. And so does everyone everywhere else.

  50. zebra95 says: Sep 16, 2016 4:00 PM

    Wasn’t Roman’s name being touted as the “next head coach”?! And now he’s fired from a team that hasn made the playoffs in, going on 2 decades? The only thing going for him is t t guy who fired him has zero credibility in the league. Hope he ends up on a division rival and beats the Bills twice a year.

  51. mmack66 says: Sep 16, 2016 4:00 PM

    happy1114 says:
    Sep 16, 2016 2:54 PM

    At least Big Rex didnt engage in a fist fight with Roman like he did before firing Morningwig
    ————————–

    He was just carrying on an old family tradition.

  52. expatnyker says: Sep 16, 2016 4:03 PM

    skawh says:
    Sep 16, 2016 2:52 PM
    What I don’t get is either Ryan being hired. Rex comes to Buffalo right after creating a dumpster fire in NY. I can’t recall seeing a HC doing so poorly and then immediately receive another HC job right down the street. Head scratching. Really!
    —————————————–
    Mangini wasn’t fired 5 minutes before Lerner hired him in Cleveland.

  53. bigbamboom1 says: Sep 16, 2016 4:09 PM

    Nepotism is the way of life in the NFL. See the Halas Dynasty in Chicago; the Jones Clan in Dallas; The 2 Ryan Sumo’s in Buffalo; The Shanahan’s; and numerous others. The thing with nepotism is this. If you have it, you better win with it! See the Kraft boys & Belichick and son & daughter in New England as examples of how to pull that off.

  54. tfarr45 says: Sep 16, 2016 4:15 PM

    The Bills and their fans don’t deserve this . Rex is cool to go have a beer with but I would never have hired him as my head coach . The ownership needs to own up to hiring Rex , cut their losses and start looking elsewhere. I can think of several good potential head coaching candidates to fix this mess . Both the Mcdaniel and Partricia from New England come to mind as well as Bevel from Seattle. It’s worked out well for the Jets

  55. TheDPR says: Sep 16, 2016 4:39 PM

    There are only a very small handful of coaches in the NFL who are qualified to run the team as defacto GM, head coach, and HR department. Rex Ryan isn’t one of them. You don’t give a clown like that the authority to hire his incompetent brother in any capacity whatsoever. If you do, you reap what you’ve sown: a huge mess that the next group of coaches will need years to dig out of.

  56. ramit1 says: Sep 16, 2016 6:36 PM

    2 games in. 2 losses. The radio sports talk guys on wgr are already using the “tank” word. Heard it twice today. For those who don’t know, Buffalo has been “tanking” in hockey for three years. Now it starts with the Bills. Tank talk, freaking brutal.

  57. MichaelEdits says: Sep 16, 2016 7:26 PM

    Back in the 1990s, I worked for a 10-person company where 5 of them were the Causey family. I wrote about them in my new novel. I didn’t say nice things.

  58. helicopterpilot13 says: Sep 16, 2016 8:41 PM

    Anyone who watched Hard Knocks this summer would clearly see that Brandon Fisher (son of Jeff Fisher) deserves to be an assistant coach about as much as I deserve to marry Taylor Swift.

  59. calperson says: Sep 16, 2016 10:52 PM

    As a Pats fan, I am worried. I mean, Rex Ryan took the Jets from 4-12 to 10-6 by departing the team. Will the Bills start winning too once he departs for the Dolphins?

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