As the Buffalo Bills' search for a defensive coordinator continues, rumors and speculation - based on very little hard evidence at nearly every turn - are starting to pick up regarding several perceived candidates.
Clancy Pendergast, who was relieved of his duties - whatever they were - in Kansas City yesterday, spent two seasons working with Bills head coach Chan Gailey in Dallas (1998-99), and has since run 4-3 and 3-4 schemes in both Arizona and Kansas City. However, as of Thursday night, the Bills had not had contact with Pendergast, who has essentially been available since the Chiefs brought in Romeo Crennel. Nothing appears imminent on that front.
We've talked about Vic Fangio at length here, but after leaving the staff of one Harbaugh (John) in Baltimore, it appears he might be joining another Harbaugh, as he'll reportedly interview for Stanford's defensive coordinator position. Meanwhile, Gailey's defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, Jon Tenuta, remains unemployed, and we've heard absolutely nothing about the Bills reaching out to him, either. Nothing appears imminent with popular choice Jim Bates, either. Essentially, there are candidates to discuss, but we've got nothing concrete on any of them.
One thing we do know is that veteran coach Bob Sanders has been retained by Gailey - and he doesn't have an official job title yet. That's led to speculation that Sanders is a candidate for the coordinator gig. That's fine by me.
Sanders, 56, is an underrated football coach. He's smart, experienced, and has time as a coordinator under his belt, as he ran Green Bay's defense for three years before coming to Buffalo. In those three seasons, Green Bay's defense finished No. 12, No. 11 and No. 20 in the league; they did, however, skyrocket all the way to No. 2 in the league this past season under Dom Capers before surrendering 45 points to Kurt Warner and Arizona in a playoff loss.
Gailey has stated on multiple occasions that he's looking for good teachers throughout his entire coaching staff; Sanders clearly fits that bill, as Gailey has already retained him. Sanders spent 22 years coaching in the college ranks, including the last 11 at the University of Florida; coaching young players for that amount of time speaks highly of Sanders' teaching abilities.
Sanders ran a 4-3 defense at Green Bay, and part of the reason he was fired to make room for Capers was because head coach Mike McCarthy wanted to install a 3-4. Sanders has coached in hybrid schemes, however, as he spent four years coaching linebackers in Miami under Dave Wannstedt, a 4-3 coach who found ways to rush Jason Taylor from several different positions.
The assistant coaching landscape has thinned some. Gailey and GM Buddy Nix made it clear that the Bills weren't looking for flashy coordinator hires, and Sanders certainly wouldn't be considered a flashy hire. But he's experienced, knows the personnel, and given his solid work with Buffalo's defensive line last season, deserves a second shot at an NFL coordinator gig. Given the current state of the search, letting Sanders take the job makes a lot of sense.