It's been a while since I posted, but I finally have a day off and an inclination to write. A couple of things first though:
1. I actually think that Van Pelt has done a pretty decent job with this offense this year. He's broken us out of a lot of tendencies that we've had (by, for example, calling fewer than ten of those quick base runs out of the shotgun set every game) and diversified the attack. Considering his lack of experience and the extenuating circumstances (injuries, youth on the offensive line, poor QB play), I wouldn't mind giving him a chance to develop. That said, I find it very unlikely he stays unless Coach Fewell is given the big chair long term (On a side note: Is it interesting to anyone else that Van Pelt is still listed as QB Coach on the official website?).
2. This is the purest speculation, designed simply to get some discussion going and throw out a few names. Its probably likely that none of the names on this list will be calling plays for Buffalo next year. I'm also not going to include anyone who currently holds an equal or superior position but may be released after the season (no Gary Kubiak for instance).
Charlie Weis, Former Head Coach, University of Notre Dame.
I put him on the list mainly because someone was going to bring him up anyways. We all know exactly what Weis can do in the OC role. Weis does an excellent job of designing offenses around the strengths of his personnel. Anyone else remember being frustrated at all those toss counters that the Patriots used to run when they had Antowain Smith in the backfield? Simple but effective design: Get the defense running east-west on the toss action, then get your big back running north-south with the counter action. Now I think Weis is unlikely to happen, but I certainly wouldn't say no either.
I wouldn't be overly surprised if Johnson will get at least a discussion in somebody's front office for a head man position, but I think it likely that he will get a OC position from someone next year. He spent 10 seasons (1996-2005) as Receivers coach at the University of Miami developing guys like Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson. The last three years he's spent taking low draft picks (Marques Colston), underachieving high draft picks (Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem), and undrafted free agents (Lance Moore) and turned them into the best receiving corps in the league. Don't get me wrong- Drew Brees is a special quarterback. But when's the last time you saw a Saints WR drop a clutch pass? Or any pass for that matter? He has a reputation around the league as a good communicator, and having tremendous attention to detail.
Mike Munchak, Offensive Line Coach, Tennessee Titans.
Lord knows I love me some offensive line. Munchak has spent the last 13 seasons as the Titans offensive line coach after a Hall of Fame career at guard for the Houston Oilers. Munchak's lines have been uniformly excellent throughout his career with the Titans. The Titans have had three straight 2,000 yard rushing seasons (and only 11 yards away from a fourth this year), and regularly finish top ten in fewest sacks allowed (7 of the last 10 seasons; 4 times top four). Since 1999, they are third overall in fewest sacks allowed. He consistently produces tough, technically sound linemen, helping four different players to earn nine Pro Bowl appearances. He's certainly earned a shot at the next level.
Juan Castillo, Offensive Line Coach, Philadelphia Eagles.
Have I mentioned I really like offensive line coaches? Like Munchak, Castillo has been fielding consistently productive offensive lines for more than a decade. Also like Munchak, he has continually developed high quality starters and Pro Bowl players, sending four players to a total of seven Pro Bowls. He also actually spent the summer of 1992 as a coaching intern with the Bills, so he has some marginal familiarity with the franchise.
Aaron Kromer, Offensive Line/ Running Game Coach, New Orleans Saints.
A little bit of an off-the-cuff choice on my part, but maybe an interesting candidate next offseason. Kromer began his NFL coaching career at Oakland during Jon Gruden's last season (2001). He was the Raiders offensive line coach during their Super Bowl year, and survived on into the Norv Turner era before jumping ship to rejoin Gruden in Tampa. He helped develop some solid performers out of Donald Penn and Davin Joseph while at Tampa. As running backs coach last year, he helped develop Pierre Thomas and resurrect the career of Mike Bell. He's also had a hand this year in designing a rushing attack that this year has ranked 5th in league, both in total yards and yards per carry. He has a potentially intriguing coaching background, with elements of both a West Coast offense, and the more vertical, attacking offense favored by Payton.
What do you think folks? Anyone you have an eye on?