As we all know, being a Bills fan is often difficult. We haven't made the playoffs in 10 years, only 1 of our past 3 head coaches ("HC") has had HC experience, and our biggest ticket free agent signing lately has been TO, by all accounts a guy who didn't have many other options. After sitting through this past season, I held out hope that Dick Jauron (and John Guy) would be fired and Ralph would finally have enough of the losing and bring in the type of HC with such credentials and respect that if he failed in Buffalo, it would be suprising. In that scenario at least I could be content that the Bills failed despite their very best efforts to get better.
I know many of you have had the same hopes. But a funny thing happens to us Bills fans. We start with big hopes...and slowly, somehow, throughout the process we revert back to "settleing" for less than the best. Case in point: after Jauron was fired, and the season was lost, how many of us said to ourselves, "if only we could hire a 70 year old GM not many people have heard of, who had never been a GM before. That would really get me fired up for next year!"? Not me, that's for sure. In fact, when I heard a report earlier that day that the Bills would announce a GM hire from within the organization, well, I almost had a heartattack. All those interesting articles highlighting potential young, up and coming GM candidates on this great website were for naught. I thought this website would errupt with anger.
But a funny thing happened. Initial anger from a good amount of people, but then the "settleing" set in. Hey, Buddy Nix drafted some great guys in San Diego. Hey, he's only been here for a year, so it's not really internal hire. Hey, we didn't even have a GM the past few years....he has to be better than nothing, right?
So now I ask for your expectations. I don't want us as a community to continue before I at least set my (and encourage you to set your) expectations for the next few months. Before we start to digress back to convincing ourselves that the next move they make could work out, even though deep down it is against what you really wanted.
The Bills are in a great situation. We fired Dick Jauron mid season and have had more than enough time to figure out what we do next. I think Russ Brandon is pretty intelligent, and no matter what I think of Nix, he does seem to be a good football guy. So here goes:
Head Coaching hire expectations: I expect the Bills to interview at least 5-6 candidates, expect them to decide based on more than just the interview, and expect our next HC to be an offensive guy (I think the defense here can be good already, not sure about the offense), expect the guy to bring a new attitude, direction and identity to the team, and most importantly have HC experience, although not necesarrily in the NFL.
Thus, I would be displeased with defensive minded coaches such as: L. Frazier, R. Rivera, or P. Fewell.
I would also be displeased with B. Scottenheimer, since he has no prior HC experience anywhere, and I just don't think the Jets offense is anything special.
Expecations met/exceeded if: Bill Cowher gets the job. Obviously, this would bring much needed excitement to the team, and if he failed, well, what else could we have done? I also really like Jim Harbough. Younger, energetic, offensive guy, plus, if he can take a team like freakin Stanford and consistently beat an all-star talented team like USC, well, your the man in my book. Jason Garrett would make me happy since I think highly of him as an O-corindator (although the lack of HC experience scares me a bit). And finally, Brian Billick, while not my favorite candidate, would at least be a proven quantity.
Draft expecatations: In my opinion, we have to draft an o-lineman in the first 3 rounds. Also, if we can get our QB of the future in the first 2 rounds, I would also be happy. I think it goes without saying that if we draft secondary within the 1st 3 rounds, I will set myself on fire. Also, if the Bills like a guy, but they think they could get him later, I would love for them to stop taking guys earlier than conventional wisdom has them being selected, and at least trade out to get more picks and their guy.
Free Agent expecations: Need to upgrade linebackers, o-line, and QB. Either through the draft or free agency. I think it is imperative to get our QB of the future through the draft, though, if not this year (if you want to draft o-line high instead, I'm good with that) than def next year, and has to be a high pick.
In conclusion, we need a HC and a QB. After a decade of losing I don't think we can gamble anymore on hiring an unproven HC or draft a QB that isn't at least a 1st or 2nd rounder. (and who people have heard of and respect, not JP Losman). I mean, if Seattle can fire their coach and in one freakin week convince a top 3 college coach to come join them, I don't think we should lower our expectations. I can't sit through another wait-and-see coach/QB. Football is, at it's core, entertainment, and I want to get excited about the future of this great franchise. Now that my expecations have been documented, I will not except less! Please share your expecations so that we will not be allowed to settle later on.