Usually, when you have a good football team, it’s because you have a good organization.
Usually, when you have a good organization, other organizations want your people.
The Bills began to lose meaningful pieces of their organization last offseason, when assistant general manager Joe Schoen left to become the general manager of the New York Giants. He then pilfered offensive coordinator Brian Daboll from Buffalo to be his head coach for Big Blue. Offensive line coach Bobby Johnson followed Daboll to New Jersey, along with assistant quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney, who took a promotion to quarterbacks coach for the Giants.
But who might bolt this offseason from Buffalo? Let’s list out the likely candidates, and opine on the probability of exodus:
Ken Dorsey (Offensive Coordinator): Somewhat improbable
“Young offensive coordinator” continues to be an archetype that’s appealing to NFL owners as they look for someone to be their team’s new head coach, but for multiple reasons, Dorsey leaving feels less likely than Daboll was the previous two years. The first is that this is the first year Dorsey has ever called plays at any level. There isn’t an established track record of him doing it at a high level across multiple teams, or years, when defensive coordinators have studied his work in the offseason. The second is that he doesn’t have the broad resume that Daboll had. Daboll carried with him recommendations from not just Sean McDermott, but Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. He had been an offensive coordinator across not just multiple teams, but multiple eras of offense, with varying degrees of personnel talent to work with. Dorsey’s name has popped up as an early name to watch with the Carolina Panthers, but it feels more likely that he’ll be back than he’ll be gone.
Leslie Frazier (Defensive Coordinator): Highly improbable
NFL teams have shown that they don’t value coaches like Frazier the way they likely should. Despite the long-term success of coaches like Mike Tomlin with the Pittsburgh Steelers, John Harbaugh with the Baltimore Ravens, or even McDermott here in Buffalo, NFL GMs and owners often pass up well-respected organizational leaders in lieu of a perceived offensive Xs and Os advantage. Frazier has consistently coordinated one of the top defenses in the NFL, and despite a tremendous rash of injuries to meaningful players on that side of the ball this year, he continues to produce a top defensive unit. With no teams having requested an interview with Frazier as of the time of this writing, it feels like the NFL may have moved on.
Malik Boyd (Senior Director of Pro Scouting): Somewhat probable
Boyd has already interviewed for the Tennessee Titans’ vacant general manager job. Given the power that returning head coach Mike Vrabel is likely to wield in the new-look Titans front office, Boyd would be in a different position in Tennessee than Joe Schoen is in New Jersey, but the success of Schoen in year one leading the Giants is sure to give Boyd a meaningful shot to shine this hiring cycle.
Lake Dawson (Assistant Director of College Scouting): Somewhat improbable
Dawson has received external interviews in previous hiring cycles, including interviewing twice in 2018 for the Panthers GM job. His inclusion on this list is primarily due to the presence of Boyd. If Boyd were to land a general manager job elsewhere, Dawson might be his first front-office poach.
Obviously if Dorsey left, the Bills’ assistant offensive staff all become targets for promotions, much like Tierney was last year, and the same would go for Frazier and the assistant defensive staff. But those four seem to be the most likely targets for upward defection during this upcoming offseason.
The Bills have a good thing going, and other teams are going to continue to want what they have.
...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!