Brian was absolutely right in his story this morning concerning the need for bringing in a new GM first before the next HC is hired. It would be great to have a pair of fresh eyes evaluate the current staff and roster and then make the necessary changes. But given what we know of Ralph Wilson is he likely to go down that route? The realistic answer is no. He is now stuck with paying $3 million/year to a former HC for the next two years, so shelling out big salaries to BOTH a new GM and HC is not going to appeal to him. Nor does he like having strong-minded GM's who he is not sure are completely loyal to him. And there is the Russ Brandon factor. Wilson likes and trusts Brandon a lot, which means he is not going anywhere. In the face of that reality how would the new GM and Brandon coincide? Would having both of them at the top of the organization lead to cooperation or continuous conflict? My guess is that a capable GM candidate would think twice about getting into that kind of situation.
All of which leads me to believe that Wilson will respond to the present crisis by elevating Brandon to be the authentic and unquestioned GM. Would that be a bad move? Probably not, since Brandon is smart, has a genuine commitment to the team, and can probably coax more out of Wilson than any other potential GM at this point. Some will say that Brandon is not a true "football guy," but he did start at QB for four years at a DIII college. He certainly knows what the game is about. He has also had a lot of opportunity to learn from other people's mistakes watching Tom Donahoe and others operate over the last nine years. My guess is that he has learned a lot from that. And his background as an executive is in marketing, which makes him very sensitive to what fans are thinking. He knows that the way to keep the stands filled is to put a winning team on the field. He will do everything possible to bring that about.
At the same time I would not be surprised if Wilson fired Tom Modrak and John Guy on the thought that the Bills need a new set of talent-scouts. If that happens, Modrak, who currently holds a fancy title (Vice-President of Football Personnel?) would be replaced be a simple Director of College Scouting, who would presumably be paid a lot less. The money saved could go toward the salary of the new HC.
Finally, when it comes to selecting a HC (which, under my scenario, Wilson and Brandon would do jointly) I would recommend keeping a close eye on Mike Sherman, the former Packers HC with a strong winning record in the NFL who Wilson apparently wanted to hire last time until Marv Levy talked him into going with Jauron. Sherman would come at a salary level that Wilson can accept, is a successful former HC in the league (not just a coordinator), and is a specialist in offense.
At age 91 it takes people a while to get used to changes. The scenario I have just outlined would allow Wilson to address the team's major problems without venturing too far into the unfamiliar. It's not what I would do -- or what most fans would do -- but it may well be what Ralph Wilson feels comfortable doing.