The Buffalo Bills on Tuesday announced that Ken Dorsey had been named offensive coordinator, replacing Brian Daboll and paving the way for the team to hire the rest of their offensive staff.
With Dorsey’s promotion, it leaves an opening at quarterbacks coach. Josh Allen has proven to be a stellar quarterback, and folks will be lining up for the opportunity.
Here’s our quick list of potential successors.
UPDATE: I took off Shea Tierney when he was hired by the Giants, but I have added Joe Brady. You’ll see why below. - MRW
1. Bills assistant quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney Josh Allen has spoken highly of him and Tierney has worked his way up, first as an intern with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2013-2015 (where he worked with the next guy on our list) and then the University of Alabama from 2016 to 2017 (working with Brian Daboll). He joined the Bills in 2018 as an offensive assistant and was promoted to assistant quarterbacks coach in 2020. It’s a natural next step, but a first-time OC and a first-time QB coach may not be the recipe for success. Tierney may also prefer to head to New York with Daboll if the Bills allow it. Tierney signed on as the new Giants quarterbacks coach.
2. Former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur
A member of the 2001 to 2008 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 MinnesotaVikings 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 Vikings’ offensive coordinator. After being fired as an offensive coordinator, he has the skills to not only help Dorsey in his first years as a coordinator, but also has the experience to help Allen.
3. 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.
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, Allen made it a point to find him after the game to give him a hug and chat. This would make sense to bring in an experienced offensive coach to pair with Dorsey, even though Culley has never called plays.
5. Former Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy
This would be a big step down for Nagy, who surely hopes he can latch on as an offensive coordinator somewhere. 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. His experience is a perfect fit for a mentorship role for both Dorsey and Allen, if he’s willing to take the cut all the way down to a position coach.
6. Texans passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton
Hamilton is still technically employed by the Texans, who fired head coach David Culley last month. While he doesn’t have direct ties to McDermott, both have mutual colleagues in David Culley and Bob Babich. He was able to get something out of Davis Mills in Houston, so that needs to count for something, as does his extensive experience. Hamilton is a finalist for the Giants’ offensive coordinator position, according to reports.
7. 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. He worked with McDermott for a decade and he’s coached five different Pro Bowlers at the quarterback position, but it’s been a while.
8. Former Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady*
Brady was fired by the Panthers during the season, so he can sign anywhere right now. I initially left him off the list because he has no coaching ties to Sean McDermott and no ties to Ken Dorsey, so I didn’t see a path to get a well-regarded offensive coordinator to take a QBs coach job. That is until I noticed that Brady went to college at Williams & Mary and coached there. Another proud Tribe alum is Sean McDermott, who left in 1998. Brady arrived as a freshman in 2009, so they never overlapped, but the head coach at W&M was there from 1980 to 2018. Jimmye Laycock might be the piece that brings these two players from opposite sides of the field together and both McDermott and Brady got their first coaching jobs at Williams & Mary. Adding the 32-year-old Brady behind the 40-year-old Dorsey while also adding play-calling experience is a win all over the place. Support for Josh, support for Ken, another guy who can step in if Dorsey leaves, plus you get a perspective from well outside the organization. It would be a home run.
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 27 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 quarterbacks. You can say similar things about Derek Anderson or Ryan Fitzpatrick (who some people forget was a starter for an NFL team in 2021 so why would he go into coaching right now?).
Josh Allen’s private coach Jordan Palmer doesn’t make much sense, either. If he wanted to be a coach on an NFL staff, he would be. He’s doing too well as a private quarterback guru to change his game.