So... yeah. The Buffalo Bills fired Dick Jauron. Perhaps you'd heard. It's still difficult to believe that the Jauron era in Buffalo is over; I'll chalk my inability to wrap my mind around it to the timing, which will always be strange to me, given that a week ago today, the Bills were only just returning from a bye week.
That's big news, to say the least. The fact that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was promoted to interim head coach was pretty big news, too. It's fun to speculate who might become Buffalo's next head coach, or who might become the next casualty in the front office purge Ralph Wilson is expected to embark upon.
With all proper apologies to folks who would rather partake in those discussions on the day after, I'm going to go ahead and say that those two news items were not the biggest news on the day. No, to me, the biggest, most important news comes via Ed Kilgore of WGRZ.com, who offered up this little throwaway nugget in the aftermath of Jauron's firing:
But, there are reasons to think Ralph C. Wilson "gets it", and is actually willing to do "what it takes" to turn his sagging Bills franchise around. A source tells me C.O.O. Russ Brandon has already started the search for a respected football man to head up football operations, and that person would be in charge of bringing in the next head coach along with all other changes in the personnel department, and changes there will be.
About a month ago, on October 14, we wrote about the possibility of the Bills hiring a GM. At that point in time, I wrote the piece more from the angle of clinging to hope, rather than setting an expectation. If Kilgore's source is accurate on this, it's incredibly satisfying news. As much as the Jauron firing was inevitable and needed to happen - weird timing or not - it's been pretty clear that Jauron was only the figurehead, not the root cause, of the Bills' organizational problems.
From the sounds of Kilgore's information, this is going to happen similarly to the way we discussed it might last month. Russ Brandon, current COO and GM (the latter by default), is heading up the search for the new GM. That's not a complete departure from the consensus model that Marv Levy preached and which Wilson attempted to follow up on in the two years after Levy departed. Brandon's presence makes it possible, because it represents a different structure than the Tom Donahoe experiment, which as you're all aware, Wilson was eager to avoid.
Theoretically - and I'm just speculating here - this new "respected football mind" would essentially be Brandon's organizational equal, or at worst, a half-step below Brandon. (If Brandon's a half-step above, that's not necessarily terrible, as he's positioned to run interference between Ralph and the new guy and let the new guy do his job.) As Kilgore mentions in his piece, Brandon and Wilson would hire the new guy, and then the new guy would build his own scouting and pro personnel staffs, and bring in his own head coach.
I can't even believe how glorious that sounds on paper. Forgive me if I don't join in on the next head coach speculation, because I'm much, much more interested in this particular bit of news.
If Kilgore is right - and we're not likely to know if he is until at least January, when these bigger-picture moves are most likely to be made - it'll be proof that Wilson finally, mercifully understands that the root of his team's problems are in the front office. There have been successes from the current regime - Jairus Byrd, anyone? - but far more failures, particularly at the game's most important positions (quarterback and the two lines).
Hearing that your head coach is fired mid-season shouldn't inspire much hope, no matter how much you dislike the coach himself. Hearing that your owner might finally be realizing that he's been doing things the wrong way for four years and looking to fix it? That should inspire hope. I'm trying not to get too excited, but if this is true, perhaps this franchise's fortunes are about to turn around. It has to start up top; here's hoping Kilgore is right in saying that Wilson has realized it.