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.