It is now being reported by multiple outlets but credit to Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News that the Buffalo Bills have fired Head Coach Chan Gailey. Gailey came to the Bills three seasons ago as a highly touted offensive genius who would find a way to work with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and design an offense to his strengths. In his three seasons here the Bills went 16-32. They won only four divisional games in that same stretch along with going 4-24 against teams over .500 and 2-18 against playoff teams.
In the end I’m not quite sure it was Gailey’s record that was his undoing. The list of charges against him is rather long but here are some of the highlights but for the most part it will revolve around his inability to give CJ Spiller the ball more and his never ending devotion to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Anytime you have a head coach who absolutely refuses to give his teams best player the ball its time to begin to re-evaluate his job.
Gailey leaves the Bills in a situation much like the one he came into. This team hasn’t gotten much better under his watch and while the roster talent is improved its not going to be quick one year fix for any new coach to walk into. So where do the Bills turn?
Here is my short list of five coaching candidates (in no particular order):
1. Mike McCoy (Offensive Coordinator-Denver Broncos)
McCoy has been the OC for the Broncos for their last three QB’s (Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, and Peyton Manning), he survived the regime change from Josh McDaniels to John Fox and is considered to be one of the hottest up and coming names on the coaching market. McCoy is a very good QB coach and would be an ideal choice for any team looking to bring in a rookie QB and groom him for success.
2. Hue Jackson (Assistant Special Teams/Defensive Backs Coach – Cincinnati Bengals)
Jackson actually has Head Coaching experience having spent a year as the Oakland Raiders Head Coach in 2011. He was fired from that job when they hired a new GM and ended going back to Cincinnati where he had previously spent time. Despite Jackson’s current title he is considered a very innovative offensive coach and has helped young QB’s like Joe Flacco come into the NFL and elevate their game.
3. Gus Bradley (Defensive Coordinator – Seattle Seahawks)
Bradley, along with McCoy, is one of the hottest names out there. He has taken a Seahawks defense that was full of mainly no-name defenders and turned them into stars. Guys like Red Bryant, Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, and Bobby Wagner have become stars in Seattle under Bradley’s 43 scheme. The Seahawks play an aggressive man coverage philosophy that would fit CB Stephon Gilmore exceptionally well.
4. Jay Gruden (Offensive Coordinator – Cincinnati Bengals)
We made a run at Jay’s brother John Gruden before but I think that ship has sailed for us. I think we have a good shot at Jay simply because it gets him his first NFL Head Coaching job and we are able to strike while the iron is hot on him. He’s done great things with Andy Dalton at QB and he understands how to get his best football player (AJ Green) the ball.
5. Bill Cowher (CBS Studio Analyst)
I’ve gone back and forth on Cowher over the years but in the end I think you have to make another run at him. He’s a Super Bowl winning coach who knows what its like to coach in a blue collar type of a town. His players love him and his no nonsense style. I think you take one last run at Cowher and see if maybe you can’t land the big fish.
I reached out to some of our staff for their thoughts and here are their personal short lists…
Mike Watkins, BBD Editor
1.Hue Jackson: Jackson is a young brash coach who has just enough confidence to not be called arrogant. At just 47 years old Jackson has a ton of NFL experience and has made enough stops along the way to know where the good young coaches are in this league. He has experience developing young QB’s and has spent enough time on teams where the focal point was defense to know it’s not all about offense. He had a year in Oakland and did a lot with a little in a very tough circumstance. If I were Buffalo he would be first on my list
2.David Shaw: Shaw is the only candidate I would consider from the college ranks. Is it a long shot? Absolutely, but I think its one worth taking. Shaw is a detailed oriented guy who knows what makes players tick. He also has an outstanding knowledge of in game strategy along with a great understanding of X’S and O’s. He was well schooled by Harbaugh to know the importance of both sides of the ball as well as to playing with your strengths and overcoming/minimizing your own teams weaknesses. I think its worth a trip up to Stanford for the Bills brass to make their case with a big check in their hand
3.Ray Horton: Horton is another coach who has been around the NFL as a player and a coach for a long time. He has coached under some of the best in the league, namely Dick LeBeau. He is a brash, outspoken, unapologetic coach who has the respect of his players that he gets the most out of. He has now seen first hand in Arizona the difference between not having QB and having a QB can do to a franchise. In light of that he is likely to make it priority number 1. The biggest plus about Horton is he also spent a lot of time under two very good HC’s in Tomlin and Cowher. Both of who fit the distinction of leader of men to a T.
4.Mike McCoy: Any coach that adapts his offense to his players is going to be high on my list. Coaches far to often keep trying to force their offense and philosophies no matter if they have the personal to make it work correctly or not. McCoy on multiple occasions has proven that he knows how to and will adapt his scheme to fit his players and still have success. That is usually a great indicator of a good coach. The big reason I have McCoy 4 on my list and not higher as the media does is because of his limited time around the NFL. He has only coached with two teams and all under the same HC in John Fox. It’s because of that I tend to question his ability to put together a top notch staff
5.Mike Zimmer: Zimmer has been passed over a few times because a lot of higher ups around the league don’t feel he has the personality to handle the spot light and day to day media duties of a HC. This offseason though a number of teams may very well look past that and with good reason. Zimmer is one of the best defensive coordinators in the game and the players who play for him are very loyal to him and love to play for him. Zimmer wears his emotions on his sleeve, and has been around the league long enough to assemble a quality coaching staff. He’d be a very good fit in Buffalo when you consider that he already has a lot of pieces in place to run his defense the way he wants to.
Eric Samulski, BBD Writer
1. Jon Gruden
A proven commodity who completely turned about the Tampa Bay franchise when
he arrived. Is good with QBs, and has the aggressive mentality that’s been missing
from the Bills.
2. David Shaw
Took over for Harbaugh at Stanford and didn’t miss a beat. Is a solid fundamentals
guy and prides defense. Should be able to get the most out of our defensive guys and
bring some youth and life into the team.
3. Mike McCoy
Made a Tebow-led offense a success and then completely re-invented his offense
with Manning at the helm. Is creative and has proven that he can make a team
successful around the players he has.
4. Ray Horton
Has consistently gotten production out of an Arizona team that is falling apart
around him. Has been successful everywhere he’s been and would set his sights on
fixing this defense.
5. Ken Norton
A leap of faith because he’s never been more than a linebackers coach, but was
instrumental in coaching Matthews and Cushing at USC and has had success in
Seattle. A player, so he understands the game and is known as being a fiery guy but
Now for the most part this coaching decision will rest on the shoulders of the GM. Will it be Buddy Nix? Will it be Doug Whaley? Will it be a fresh face? We don’t know that yet, so until we do leave who you want to be the next Head Coach in the comments below!