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Report: Bills to name Turk Schonert Offensive Coordinator

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Update [2008-1-16 11:29:16 by Brian Galliford]: The official site has a fantastic interview with Schonert up; it's definitely worth your while to read through that in its entirety. The two quotes that you really, really need to read, however, I'll include here:

"It's not an overhaul," Schonert said. "I'm a firm believer in keeping some of the terminology. They've been in the system terminology-wise for two years. With protections and the run game that's what I'd like to keep the same. Hopefully we can stay as close to what we had before so they don't have to learn brand new terminology in every phase of the game."
"The pass game conceptually I think there's going to be quite a few changes," he said. "Conceptually there are things I liked that we didn't get done last year and I'm going to implement those into the system."

The Buffalo News is reporting that the Bills are set to promote quarterbacks coach Turk Schonert to the post of offensive coordinator. Schonert, who has never held a coordinator position at the NFL level, will replace Steve Fairchild, who after authoring the least productive offensive season in team history left to become head football coach at Colorado State University.

As part of the promotion process, former Bills quarterback Alex Van Pelt - who has spent the last two seasons as offensive quality control coach - will assume the quarterbacks coach role vacated by Schonert.

Pressure's On
Buffalo's offense, as mentioned, was historically bad in 2007. Flip-flopping quarterbacks and awful play-calling were at the crux of an attack that produced a franchise-low 20 touchdowns and often left a bottom-feeding defense stranded - even after good defensive efforts. With the Bills likely to hand their starting quarterback slot to second-year man Trent Edwards, the feeling is that head coach Dick Jauron made this promotion based on the fact that similar offensive terminology - not scheming - will help Edwards continue to develop as he enters his first full year as a starter.

But there is, most assuredly, a lot of pressure on Schonert from the outset. With no play-calling experience at the NFL level, Schonert's first task next season will be to prove that his offensive philosophies both play to the talents of Buffalo's current offensive talent and starkly contrasts with the conservative approach Fairchild often took. Another key to keep an eye on his how much say Schonert has in game-planning; Jauron is a conservative coach by nature, and if Schonert's offense struggles to produce early in the '08 season, it's likely he'll be placed on a very short leash.

The biggest pressure Schonert may face, however, comes directly from Buffalo's fan base. Dick Jauron faces this pressure as well. The Bills make this promotion with several prominent, experienced coordinators on the market, including former head coaches such as Cam Cameron, Jim Fassel and Mike Tice. If the offense struggles again in '08, it may be Schonert's first - and only - season on the job. The Bills have not fielded even an average offensive attack since the 2002 season; if that doesn't change, well, something will.

Pressure's on, coach.