Critical weekend for Bills coaching search

The Buffalo Bills went after the big fish in starting their head coaching search. Mike Shanahan was wooed way back in November, and Bill Cowher was wooed much more recently. Buffalo's backup plan included formally requesting permission to interview three of the league's most respected coordinators. With the NFL's divisional round of playoffs set to begin today, the Bills enter a critical weekend in their coaching search, even while not participating themselves.

Shanahan is in Washington, and Cowher appears comfortable waiting for other opportunities beyond 2010. One candidate the team interviewed, Perry Fewell, is the Giants' new defensive coordinator. One coordinator has already turned down Buffalo's interview request; Brian Schottenheimer is happy where he's at. A second, Arizona's Russ Grimm, is likely to follow suit.

Right now, one man appears genuinely interested in the job - Minnesota's Leslie Frazier - and while reports are overwhelmingly negative, Grimm isn't out of the picture yet, either. Both Minnesota and Arizona play in this weekend's NFC playoffs.

If Arizona can beat New Orleans on Sunday, Buffalo will have missed its chance to interview Grimm before January 25, as any coordinator working for a team in a conference championship game cannot discuss other jobs until after that game has been played, win or lose.

The same goes for Frazier. If Minnesota can hold its home-field advantage against Dallas, Buffalo won't be able to speak to Frazier again until after the NFC Championship Game, which takes place on January 24. If either Arizona or Minnesota makes it past next weekend, Buffalo won't be able to offer its job to either Frazier or Grimm until after the Super Bowl.

What happens this weekend will greatly affect the timeline of Buffalo's coaching search. If Minnesota and Arizona are lucky enough to advance - and in a wide open NFC playoff race, their chances are excellent - Buffalo could be looking at another full week, at least, of waiting on its next coach. If they haven't already, they need to start developing a Plan C immediately.

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