Buffalo Bills linebackers coach Bobby Babich has emerged as one of the hottest names in the NFL coaching ranks, with three teams already interested in what he’d bring to the table as their franchise’s defensive coordinator. First it was the New York Giants that interviewed Babich for their defensive coordinator role earlier this week. Then on Friday, Mike Garafolo announced that the Green Bay Packers requested permission to interview Babich for their opening at defensive coordinator. Soon after Garofolo’s tweet, Tom Pelissero shared that the Miami Dolphins had also requested permission to interview Babich for their newly available defensive coordinator position.
Babich is a young, up-and-coming coach who’s spent the previous seven seasons with the Bills — serving in 2017 as assistant defensive backs coach before a promotion to safeties coach in 2018, where he worked until his current role as linebackers coach in 2022. The roots of Babich’s NFL coaching career began with the Carolina Panthers, where he served a year each as an administrative assistant to the coaching staff and assistant defensive backs coach. Babich would then head to the Cleveland Browns as assistant defensive backs/safeties coach from 2013-2015.
Buffalo’s 2023 season was marred by injury, with the majority of attrition coming on defense. Perhaps hardest hit was the team’s linebackers room.
Let’s recap, from the beginning of the offseason to now:
Buffalo Bills 2023 NFL offseason/training camp
- Lost linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to Chicago Bears via free agency
- Linebacker A.J. Klein re-signed with Bills in April
- Second-year linebacker Terrel Bernard developed to succeed Edmunds
- Bernard missed most of training camp, all three preseason games to a hamstring injury
- Bills signed free-agent linebacker Christian Kirksey to practice squad on 8/31
- Bills cut linebacker A.J. Klein from practice squad to make room for Kirksey
- Linebacker Baylon Spector suffered right leg injury on 8/26 vs. Chicago Bears (preseason game 3)
Buffalo Bills 2023 regular season
- Spector began regular season on Injured Reserve (IR)
- Kirksey retired on 9/21; Bills re-signed Klein to team’s practice squad
- Lost linebacker Matt Milano to a season-ending lower leg injury in Week 5
- Klein elevated to 53-man roster, only to be released for tight end Dawson Knox (designated return from IR)
- Bernard injured an ankle somewhere along the way midseason.
- Linebacker Tyrel Dodson injured shoulder Week 17, misses Week 18
Buffalo Bills 2023 playoffs
- Dodson shoulder injury keeps him out of Super Wild Card Weekend vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Klein returns to the team, days away from realizing RV family vacation to Key West
- Klein starts, plays 100% of snaps, leads team in tackles vs. Steelers
- Bernard injures ankle vs. Steelers
- Spector injures back vs. Steelers
- Bernard and Spector ruled out vs. Kansas City Chiefs
- Bills linebackers who started vs KC: Klein (again), Dodson, rookie linebacker Dorian Williams
Not listed are some week-to-week injuries players like Bernard were able to recover from without missing time.
Despite all that, Buffalo’s linebacker unit held their own, overcoming the loss of Milano to eventually become a bright spot on defense late in the season. Players such as Bernard and Dodson were written off by many outside the organization, and promptly put those questions to bed as the season unfolded. Early in the season alongside Milano, Bernard was an absolute nightmare for opponents, and he earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his Week 3 effort against the Washington Commanders.
Additionally, several linebackers worse the green dot helmet during various points of the 2023 season, from Bernard, to Dodson, and Klein. During Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott’s end-of-season press conference, he was asked about linebackers coach Bobby Babich and what he’s meant to the staff.
“Good coach. Bobby and I have been together a number of years going back to our time together in Carolina — and you know his dad was with us for a number of years. Good family, Bobby’s a good coach. He’s developed players and I think when you evaluate a coach it’s ‘are you taking what you have and making it better.’ And I think it doesn’t need to get any more complex than that, and Bobby’s done that.”
As mentioned by McDermott, Babich’s father, Bob Babich, was a linebackers coach for the Buffalo Bills from 2017 through 2021.