The recent success of the Buffalo Bills had led to a poaching of key staff members. After Dan Morgan and Joe Schoen have left the front office over the last two years, both offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier have also had interviews. Daboll is now a finalist with the New York Giants, so we put together a handy guide of replacement options for him as well as Ken Dorsey, the team’s QBs coach and passing game coordinator.
UPDATE: Daboll was hired Friday by the Giants, and multiple rumors have Dorsey going with him. This article became more timely, so we added a few more names to it. The new names are noted with an asterisk *.
1. Current Bills passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey
Dorsey has been groomed for this position since coming to Buffalo. This past offseason he was given the title of passing game coordinator in addition to his role as quarterbacks coach, but Dorsey has never called plays. He has a great relationship with QB Josh Allen and that may be the best thing going for him. Allen basically said at his end-of-year press conference that Dorsey was his top choice. Dorsey had been rumored to be heading to his alma mater at the University of Miami as offensive coordinator for the Hurricanes, but they’ve moved on in their search. The rest of the names on this list could be offensive coordinators or potential replacements for Dorsey if they move him up.
2. Former Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy
Nagy worked with head coach Sean McDermott when the pair were on Andy Reid’s staff with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2008, Nagy joined the squad as an intern while McDermott was linebackers coach and by the time McDermott left in 2011, Nagy was the offensive quality control coach. In 2017, Nagy called plays for Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs for the final five games of the season and a playoff game. He continued calling the plays for the Bears after being named head coach in 2018 until the middle of the 2020 season, when he ceded that responsibility. In 2021, he took back the play calling but again had to relinquish it midseason. His experience is the best thing going for him in the conversation, but his offensive numbers haven’t always been great. If Dorsey is promoted, it could be interesting seeing Nagy brought in as a passing game coordinator/QBs coach.
3. Former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur
A member of the 2001 to 2008 Philadelphia Eagles, Shurmur was the quarterbacks coach for Donovan McNabb under Andy Reid, working on the same staff as McDermott. He was eventually hired away to be the offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams and head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Then he was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles after they moved on from Reid as well as the Vikings in 2017. After a stint as the New York Giants’ head coach for 2018 and 2019, he was the Broncos’ play caller for the last two years. In 2017 he was the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year as the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator. He certainly has the experience for either job.
4. Former Houston Texans head coach David Culley
While Culley is 65, it’s unclear if he wishes to continue coaching following his ousting in Houston. A man well-liked around the league, Culley worked with McDermott on the Eagles’ staff from 2001 when McDermott was assistant to the head coach through McDermott’s departure a decade later. When McDermott was hired by the Bills, one of the first hires he made was Culley as quarterbacks coach in 2017 and 2018. He departed after 2018 for reasons we don’t quite know, taking a job as assistant head coach/wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. When the Bills played the Texans this year, Josh Allen made it a point to find him after the game to give him a hug and chat. Culley has never called plays, so perhaps this is a stretch, but it could make sense if he would be willing to come in as a senior assistant/quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator type of role under Dorsey.
5. Former Broncos quarterbacks coach Mike Shula
Shula has a great pedigree and has worked with Sean McDermott and Ken Dorsey previously when the trio were with the Carolina Panthers. Shula was the offensive coordinator from 2013 to 2017 when McDermott was the defensive coordinator from 2011 to 2016. Dorsey was his QBs coach for his entire time as offensive coordinator. Shula has called plays for multiple teams, but was fired after the 2017 season in Carolina along with Dorsey. Dorsey spent a year out of the NFL before replacing Culley with Buffalo, while Shula went to work as the offensive coordinator for the Giants for two seasons. He was the Broncos’ QB coach in 2020 and 2021 after Pat Shurmur, his head coach in New York, landed in Denver as the offensive coordinator.
6. Former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson*
Pederson spent the 2021 season out of football after parting ways with the Eagles as their head coach. Prior to that he was Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City and before that, worked on the same coaching staff with McDermott in Philadelphia in 2009 and 2010. If McDermott wants an offensive CEO type with play-calling experience, brining in a former head coach would definitely fit that.
7. Texans passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton*
Hamilton is still technically employed by the Texans, who fired head coach David Culley this month. While he doesn’t have direct ties to McDermott, both have mutual colleagues in Culley and Bob Babich. He has play-calling experience with the 2013-2015 Indianapolis Colts.
8. Lions assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley*
Staley was a running back on the Eagles teams coached by Sean McDermott in 2001 through 2003. They were never on the same coaching staff together, as McDermott left Philadelphia following the 2010 season as Staley was arriving. (Staley was a coaching intern during training camp 2010 if you want to count that.) Still, their coaching trees overlap considerably. Staley came up the coaching ranks with Andy Reid then stayed with the Eagles under Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson. Staley has never been an OC, never called plays, and never coached quarterbacks.
9. Chiefs passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka*
A meteoric rise for the former NFL QB, Kafka’s first playing job in the NFL came with the Eagles in 2010, McDermott’s final year in Philly. He joined the Chiefs coaching staff under Andy Reid in 2017 as a quality control coach, was moved up to quarterbacks coach in 2018, and named passing game coordinator in 2020. The Bills can’t hire Chiefs OC Eric Bienemeny unless he willfully wants to leave and KC lets him, but Kafka taking a promotion to be a play-caller for Josh Allen makes a lot of sense.
10. Bills tight ends coach Rob Boras*
Boras doesn’t make much sense in the quarterbacks coach role, but he does have previous play-calling experience as an NFL offensive coordinator. Before he came to Buffalo, he was the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator under Jeff Fisher for one season. They ranked dead last in yards and points and were 31st in passing yards and rushing yards. To me, it’s more likely he takes on an increased role as run game coordinator than dips his toes into the passing attack or offense as a whole.
11. Bills wide receivers coach Chad Hall*
Hall is a rising star in the coaching ranks and loved by his players. A former NFL wide receiver, Hall moving to QB coach doesn’t feel right but a promotion to passing game coordinator as the next in line behind the offensive coordinator makes sense. They promoted Dorsey ahead of him last offseason and Hall still feels really green for what the Bills are doing on offense. He’s only been a position coach for three seasons and on the coaching staff since McDermott was hired in 2017. If they are hiring a CEO of the offense, Hall isn’t that guy. Maybe if McDermott was an offensive coach and could help him along it would be different.
12. Former Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg**
He feels older, but Mornhinweg is only 59 years old. He spent the 2020 season as a senior consultant with the Eagles but was out of football in 2021. From 2016 to 2018, he was the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens and has play-calling experience with Baltimore, the New York Jets (2013-2014), Eagles (2006-2012), San Francisco 49ers (1997-2000) as well as experience as a head coach and quarterbacks coach. More of a retread than we would like, but he worked with Sean McDermott for a decade. He could find a spot on the offensive staff, especially if they go with a young play-caller.
13. Current Ravens wide receivers coach Tee Martin**
Martin is the one of three names on the list to actually receive an interview. He’s also the greenest name on the list, with only one year of NFL coaching experience. Prior to that, he was an offensive coordinator at USC and wide receivers coach for Tennessee and USC. He developed Robert Woods and Sam Darnold for their NFL careers, among others.
14. Current Raiders wide receiver coach Edgar Bennett**
Bennett joins our list after receiving an interview with the Bills. He’s the former offensive coordinator for Mike McCarthy’s Packers teams, but he’s never called plays. His connection to the Bills runs through the Sean McDermott/Andy Reid connection; Bennett played on the mid-90s Packers where Reid and Raiders coach Jon Gruden were on the offensive coaching staff. He’s been an NFL coach since 2005 and has a lot of experience with running backs and wide receivers.
While Bills’ assistant quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney could be promoted to quarterbacks coach, he won’t be in the mix for the offensive coordinator job. Josh Allen has spoken highly of him and Tierney has worked his way up, first as an intern with the Eagles from 2013-2015 (where he worked with Shurmur) and then the University of Alabama from 2016 to 2017. He joined the Bills in 2018 as an offensive assistant and was promoted to assistant quarterbacks coach in 2020.
Bills QB Davis Webb could take over as a quality control or assistant QBs coach role, as well, but he’s not stepping directly into the full quarterbacks coach role. He’s only 29 and just look at the career tracks of these guys on the list; they all cut their teeth as quality control coaches before taking over QBs.