Here's the Bills news of note for Jan. 1st.
1 - A rapid ascensionAfter toiling in the NFL for 15 years as a position coach, Anthony Lynn has experienced as meteoric a rise in job titles as there could be in pro football. Yes, his title at the beginning of the season was Assistant head coach/running backs, but he was largely the running backs coach in terms of duties. Then came the Week 2 firing of Greg Roman, with Lynn promoted to offensive coordinator. Now in the wake of the firing of Rex Ryan, Lynn finds himself as interim head coach, and is likely to be a candidate for Buffalo's full-time position.
What does Lynn make of his rapid rise to the top coaching post?
"I really haven't had time to think about it," Lynn told Buffalobills.com. "It's been a unique season and I've learned to be careful what you ask for because I got it all at one time."
Lynn said on Thursday that he was working on three hours of sleep, not much even for NFL coaches, but it was necessary to cram all the added responsibilities into the five days he had to get ready for today's season finale against the Jets. Suffice to say his workload this week has sharply increased.
"It's changed a lot," he said. "You're still game planning. You still have to watch enough tape so you can go call a game and be familiar with an opponent. Then you have to deal with airplane seating, Saturday night meetings and football operations in general. So it's been a lot."
What helped him through the week was his handling of his previous promotion back in Week 2 when he was promoted to offensive coordinator. Navigating his way through that week with a host of new duties proved to be beneficial for him to look back on.
"It's a different road map going from position coach to OC and from OC to head coach, but just the whole adjustment in adapting to that situation definitely helped in this transition," Lynn said.
As for today's game there will be a lot of firsts, not the least of which will be calling plays from the sidelines while handling head coaching duties. But it sounds like Lynn has all the bases covered and his priorities in order.
"I want to see this team go out and play confident, fast, physical football," he said. "I want to see us be smart in situations. I'll be doing a lot of delegating to our position coaches because I'm calling plays for the first time on the sidelines. You've got challenge calls and clock management. You have so many things to worry about and call plays that I'm going to have to trust my counterparts around me. But I'm looking forward to a smooth operation."
It's clear the players who know him best on offense expect the same.
"The good thing about coach Lynn is you're putting the team in the hands of an accountable and a responsible coach," said LeSean McCoy. "I saw it when he was in the running backs room. Then when he went to offensive coordinator I saw the same thing. Now as head coach I'm looking forward to the same results."
**2 - EJ has allies
**There isn't much riding on Sunday's game between the Bills and Jets other than draft position in 2017. That isn't the case for EJ Manuel, who has an opportunity to show where he's advanced his game since his last start in Week 7 of the 2015 season. Fortunately for him a good number of his receiving targets will be just as eager to put good performances on tape in the final game of the season since much like Manuel they'll be free agents.
Receivers Marquise Goodwin, Justin Hunter and Robert Woods are all set to become unrestricted free agents when the new league year begins. So they'll have every bit the same motivation as Manuel to play well today.
Goodwin and Woods are also members of the same 2013 draft class with Manuel, and worked to re-establish a rapport with the quarterback in practice this week. Sammy Watkins saw it in action this week.
"We've got to step it up with EJ and we've got to go play and try to win this game," Watkins said.
Interim head coach Anthony Lynn confirmed that rookie Cardale Jones will serve as the backup quarterback today.
3 - A wiser rookieAs he makes his third start in Buffalo's season finale against the Jets in place of the injured Stephon Gilmore, Kevon Seymour is a much wiser rookie now than he was three months ago. The experience of playing in 14 games before today's action has him excited about where he can take his game going forward.
"I'm just more aware on the field, like where my help is and becoming more familiar with different positions," Seymour told Buffalobills.com. "Going into camp I didn't really play too much nickel and when it came to zone and all these different coverages. Now I can go play nickel and I can be an insert safety. I can go play safety in certain defensive calls. I'm much better at that now. I can play corner. I can play nickel and I know certain assignments at safety so I've done a good job with that."
Seymour will be going up against Brandon Marshall provided the veteran receiver plays. He's listed as questionable. Now with a year under his belt, Seymour has a book on players like Marshall and others that he's responsible for covering thanks to responsible note taking all season.
"That's something going into next year with our division I have a better understanding of the receivers we play because I still have my notebook," he said. "I went through a couple of notebooks this season getting ready for teams so I'm going to keep those together and when I have time and going into a game against a certain team next year I'm going to go back and look at my notes to help me prepare."
As for today's game, the aim for Seymour is simple.
"Just finishing strong," he said. "I started off early in the mix. Got my feet wet out there, so my big goal is just to finish strong."