For 12 consecutive years, the Bills have had one of the worst suffering fan bases in the NFL. Much of that has been due to the coaching.
Take, for example, last Sunday’s 21-9 loss to the Texans. Head Coach Chan Gailey only called 12 rushing plays in the game, even though his team’s ground attack is ranked seventh-most efficient in the league, according to Football Outsiders. The man has one of the best backfield tandems in football right now in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Why isn’t he using them more? As Doug Roxburgh at Buffalodown said, “It doesn’t matter what the defense is showing you, you do what you’re successful at.”
While it’s illogical to consider firing somebody based on the outcome of a single game, this particular instance represents a larger phenomenon: the Bills have been 13-27 since Gailey replaced Perry Fewell in 2010. Currently, they’re 3-5, headed for a 12th consecutive season outside the playoffs. For a team some expected to at least clinch an AFC Wildcard spot, that’s not good. Chan Gaily needs to go.
Since Marv Levy left the team in 1997, Buffalo has had six different head coaches. Here are four possible options to be named the seventh.
1) University of Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly
Currently toiling away at the top of the college ranks, Chip Kelly will likely head to the NFL. His destination is dependent on who throws him the most money, and if he can institute his fast-paced offense quickly enough to make an impact.
Buffalo isn’t known for bringing in guys with flashy names or styles, but there’s a first time for everything, and Kelly would be perfect.
Their offense has game-changing skill players like Spiller and Steve Johnson, and while their situation at QB isn’t as rosy as many of the league’s contenders, Buffalo’s current trio of Tarvaris Jackson, Fitzpatrick, and Brad Smith is modestly athletic relative to the position, and a pretty good fit to run an uptempo spread offense.
Kelly’s spread offense has already been adopted by successful teams all over the NFL. If the Bills want to turn their organization around, hiring this offensive genius would be the way to do it.
2) Suspended Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Earlier this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced his decision to void Sean Payton’s contract extension with the New Orleans Saints, making the Super Bowl-winning head coach a free agent next season.
Chances are he either returns to New Orleans or jumps to the Dallas Cowboys—making this hire a long shot—but if the Bills are serious about establishing themselves as a respectable franchise, they’ll do everything in their power to grab one of football’s most accomplished minds.
3) Monday Night Football Analyst Jon Gruden
Also a Super Bowl winning head coach, Jon Gruden has spent the last few seasons analyzing Monday Night Football on ESPN. He loves the gig, but is only 49 years old, young enough to make another successful run at head coach with a new organization.
Taking over the Bills and turning them into a contender would erase the glaring asterisk on Gruden’s legacy as a head coach who won Super Bowl XXXVII with Tony Dungy’s players.
While that theory is void of logic, it remains alive in the minds of some fans, media members, and Hall of Fame voters. If Gruden were to come into Buffalo and win a string of playoff games, his legitimacy as one of the NFL’s great coaches would be set in stone.
4) San Francisco 49ers Special Teams Coach Brad Seely
Seely’s name isn’t recited in households across the country like the other three options on this list, but in terms of NFL experience he’s the most decorated. Prior to serving as the Special Teams coach in San Francisco these last two seasons (one of the best units in football) Seely held the same job in New England from 1999-2008. Obviously, the Patriots were extremely successful during this time period, making four Super Bowl appearances and obliterating the Bills nearly every time they faced off. Seely was undoubtedly a reason why.
Think a Special Teams coach isn’t qualified to lead an entire team? Just take a look at Baltimore’s decision to replace Brian Billick with John Harbaugh in 2008. Prior to being named head coach of the Ravens, Harbaugh was the Special Teams coach in Philadelphia for nine years.
Despite never serving as a head coach in the NFL, Seely is known as a great communicator who effectively understands the entirety of the game. It’s not a coincidence that the Patriots and 49ers are successful in close football games. He could be a great fit in Buffalo.