During a post-season discussion with the press this afternoon, Bills head coach Chan Gailey informed reporters that he has relieved defensive coordinator George Edwards of his duties. Assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Dave Wannstedt has been promoted to replace him.
I’ve been calling for this move most of the season, as Buffalo has had a miserable defense in both of Edwards’ years in charge. After last year’s squad was dead last in the league in rushing defense, the 2011 team was marginally better (29th in the league), but the team still gave up way too many points(27 allowed per game both seasons) and never could generate a pass rush. And while apologists could point to the defense’s lack of talent and depth, there’s enough good players in Buffalo that this was simply unacceptable.
Wannstedt has been around football for a long time (37 years as a coach) and has coached some very good NFL defenses. His coordinating job was in Dallas during the Cowboys’ rise to glory in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He was coordinator for Dallas’s first Super Bowl-winning squad – a team that beat the Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII.
From there he went to Chicago as head coach and led the Bears back to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. His squads in Chicago were very disciplined, drawing the fewest penalties in the NFL for two straight seasons.
In 2000, he led the Miami Dolphins to the AFC East title, powered by a very good defense that ranked third in the NFL and allowed a Dolphins franchise-low 226 points (just 14.1 points per game). That squad also led the NFL with 28 interceptions.
Obviously, that’s only the highlights, and Wannstedt’s had his struggles as well. But I’m optimistic he’ll make some changes that will improve this awful Bills defensive unit in 2012.
One thing to watch will be what formation the Bills play next season. Wannstedt’s only run a 4-3 system in the past, but Buffalo has spent the past two years trying to covert to a 3-4. Something to look for when the Bills reconvene for minicamp in a few months.