After starting off the 2008 season with a 4-0 record, the Buffalo Bills have subsequently gone 2-7 to eliminate themselves from playoff consideration for a ninth consecutive season. As a result, head coach Dick Jauron is the Buffalo community and media's favorite whipping boy these days - and that's hardly a surprise. I've defended him ad nauseam here - not because I think he's a great coach, but because some of the arguments made against Jauron are borderline ridiculous. Those arguments continue.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson told Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan that he "didn't know" if Jauron would be his head coach next season; the owner did, however, call out the players, claiming "we haven't got the talent" - which sounds an awful lot like an endorsement for his embattled head coach. In short: it's a mess. Welcome to the past decade of Buffalo Bills football.
I'm done defending the man. Not because he "shows no emotion" or defers on kickoffs or because of the way he handles the media; those arguments are stupid, and are the immature rantings of folks who want to have it their way. I'm done defending the man because he's a fine, upstanding individual, clearly still has the support of his players, and he doesn't need me to. Also, I'm sick of watching the crap the Bills put on the field every week.
The Coaching List
I aim to please here, and I realize that this is what everybody wants to talk about. Who wants to talk about the Buffalo Bills? Not this guy. Instead, I wanted to talk about possible available coaches this off-season, whether the Bills end up needing one or not. Hey, if we're going to complain, we can at least make it a constructive piece, right? Let's accomplish something today, folks, rather than continue our weeks-long whine-fest.
Here are, with brief thoughts on how each relates to Buffalo, my top sixteen coaching prospects heading into the 2009 off-season:
Bill Cowher, CBS Analyst: Can you say "pipe dream"? Not only has Cowher not displayed any real interest in returning to the coaching ranks, but the chances of him choosing to come to work for a 90-year-old owner are remote. Get this one out of your head fast, folks - it ain't happening.
Marty Schottenheimer, grandfather: Apparently, he wants back in, and he's already been linked to the Cleveland Browns. He's got ties to the organization, but the chances still seem remote. Maybe that's just a result of the pessimism.
Steve Spagnuolo, Defensive Coordinator, NY Giants: "Spags" is the top assistant available, and he'll likely have his pick of a half-dozen jobs this off-season. When was the last time the Bills landed a "hot commodity" of a coaching candidate? That would be never. Again, remote chances.
Josh McDaniels, Offensive Coordinator, Patriots: See Spagnuolo, Steve. Next.
Jim Schwartz, Defensive Coordinator, Titans: He's been on the cusp of a head gig for a couple of years now. He'll definitely be a head man in 2009. I know, Buffalo's tried the whole "hand the reigns of the franchise to a Titans defensive coordinator" thing before, but Schwartz is better than Gregg Williams. Still, add his name to the pile of "remote chances" candidates.
Rex Ryan, Asst. HC/Defensive Coordinator, Ravens: It's pretty amazing that he's still a coordinator, because he's done nothing but pump out awesome defenses for the past half-decade. Again, a near-lock to be a head coach soon, but we're now entering the territory where these coaches might consider working in Buffalo.
Ten more names after the jump...
Raheem Morris, Defensive Backs, Buccaneers: Took over for Mike Tomlin in his current position when Tomlin left to coordinate the Vikings' defense; now, Morris is considered the next Mike Tomlin. Weird. He's currently slated to take over as defensive coordinator in Tampa when Monte Kiffin joins Lane in Tennessee, but some smart owner is going to give this kid a shot. I love Mike Tomlin, and because of that love, I'm 90% sure I'd love Raheem Morris.
Mike Tice, Asst. HC/Tight Ends, Jaguars: Illegal ticket scalping aside, I always thought Tice got a raw deal in Minnesota (zing!). He's got experience - something our franchise valued the last time we were looking for a new coach - and he employs the right attitude on the field. I actually think he'll end up a head coach again sometime in the near future.
Russ Grimm, Asst. HC/Offensive Line, Cardinals: Wasn't this guy supposed to be a head coach by now? There was a two-year stretch when he was linked to every job opening out there, especially Pittsburgh's, and now he's barely mentioned. The dude turned Mike Gandy into a competent left tackle; anyone who can pull that off is worth a look as a head coach.
Ron Rivera, Defensive Coordinator, Chargers: Another former hot commodity that's fallen by the wayside a bit. He's familiar with our defense, but he ran it much better than we do in Chicago. An interesting candidate, to be sure.
Ron Meeks, Defensive Coordinator, Colts: He keeps Indy's (Tampa 2) defense competent despite the fact that his best players are as frail as our owner. He also quite clearly understands the value of a good defensive end. I like him.
Todd Bowles, Asst. HC/Secondary, Dolphins: He'll be a head coach someday, if only because he's held in high regard by one Bill Parcells.
Kyle Shanahan, Offensive Coordinator, Texans: One word - "bloodlines". That and the fact that he makes Sage Rosenfels look like a competent quarterback makes him intriguing.
Jim Haslett, Interim Head Coach, Rams: Well, he's got a connection to Buffalo. Otherwise, blech - he didn't even get an interview when we hired Jauron. Highly unlikely.
Todd Haley, Offensive Coordinator, Cardinals: See "Bowles, Todd". He's done some pretty good things in Arizona this season with that offense, but then again, he also had a lot to work with. Kind of an unproven guy with some upside in my book, and he'll definitely get interviews this off-season.
Bobby April, Asst. HC/Special Teams Coordinator, Bills: He seems wildly popular in these parts, and I can't really understand why. Do I think he could be a head coach? Maybe. Do I think he'd be good? Probably not. Will he get interviews elsewhere? Unlikely. But if there's one guy who could earn a promotion here, he's the man.
Again, this piece isn't meant to be an endorsement or an attack on a current head coach. I'm pretty ambivalent about the current state of the franchise; there are arguments to make both for keeping and firing Dick Jauron. View this post, at least as it pertains to my public opinion, as an "If Jauron is fired, but I don't think he will be" piece.
Feel free to add or subtract names as you see fit.