Good morning Rumblers,
This is the last rendition of the three part series; The One That Got Away. Today we will look at coaches that got away over the past 10 years. Once again, the caveat will be if they've had success while at Buffalo and/or success after they left Buffalo.
(No particular order)
Asst. Head Coach Dick Lebeau (2003)- Yes Bills fans, the best ever to coach defense, actually was a member of the Bills coaching staff. Even though it was only for one season; Dick was a part of a Bills team that was 2nd in total defense (269 ypg), 2nd against the past (169 yds/game), and 8th against the rush (100 yds/game). Known for his 3-4 defense and zone blitzes, Buffalo was 9th in the league with 38 sacks. Why he stayed for only one year? Your guess is as good as mine. But after he left Buffalo, he landed with the Steelers and has been there ever since. Do I really have to go much further, we all know the story? But in the case you were wondering, Since 1994, the Steelers have led the AFC in sacks six times and the entire NFL three times, including in 2010. Since 2004, the Steelers have the most sacks in the NFL with 309. He has two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers, and won Coordinator of the year by the Sporting News for the 2008 seasons. I could continue, but this is making me sick :)
Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride (2002-2003)- Gilbride didn't experience much success as the coordinator for the Bills. His offense finished 11th in 2002 and averaged 23 points a game, but in 2003 they finished 30th and average 15 points per game. Fans hated his conservative style offense, and ran him out of town. But Gilbride landed back on his feet with the New York Giants in 2004, where he accepted the QB coaching job from 2004-2006. I guess you can credit him with molding Eli Manning career, and turning Eli in to a 2 time Pro Bowl QB, 2 time Super Bowl MVP, and have him on the verge of becoming a hall of fame QB. Since taking over the Offensive Coordinator job in 2006; Gilbride's offense has average out to be a top 10 offenses and averaged 24 points per game.
Special Teams Bobby April (2004-2009)- Considered one of the best Special Teams coach in the league; April's special team units with Buffalo has been amongst the best. In 5 years; his unit was ranked #1 three times. He also won two Special Teams Coach of the Year awards in 2004 and 2008. But after being passed up for interim head coaching role after the departed Dick Jauron in 2009, and not being withheld by now head coach Chan Gailey; April decided to take a job with the Philadelphia Eagles. While with the Eagles; April is slowly but surely turning around the Eagles putrid Special Teams play.
Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell (2006-2009)- Poor Perry Fewell never really had a shot here in Buffalo. In 2009 after the firing of Dick Jaruon; Fewell was named the team interim coach. The team played well for Fewell and finished the season strong. He should be credited with making Fred Jackson and Ryan Fitzpatrick the full time starters. In 2008, Fewell led defense had its best statistical season where they only allowed 14 passing TDs and ranked 2nd in the AFC in negative yardage plays. After failing to land the Bills head coaching job, and being passed up for other head coaching gigs. Fewell took the Defensive Coordinator job with the New York Giants. His bend by don't break defense was good enough for the Giants, as they won the Super Bowl last season. He employed the "NASCAR" pass rush, employing 4 DE's on the line of scrimmage and creating havoc for opposing offenses. Since Fewell's departure; the Bills defense has been putrid and ranked towards the bottom of every major statistical category.
(Honorable mentions: Mike Mularkey, Greg Williams, Alex Van Pelt, Jerry Gray)
Okay Bills fans, what do you think? Who was the one coach you regret we let walk away. It's important to consider all of the circumstances surrounding their departure, and where the team could've been if they would have stayed. For instance, what if Gilbride had Bledsoe in 2004 or Losman in 2005? Could he had turned Losman in to Eli?
Feel free to add other coaches that I failed to mention.