Beginning with the day that Marv Levy retired as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, the Bills have been on a search to find the next “Marv”. One reason that the Buffalo Bills have failed to make the playoffs in the last 15 consecutive years is the lack of a leader in the head coach position. Many have tried and many have failed to fill the great Marv Levy’s shoes. Now that the Buffalo Bills roster is filled with talent, they need to find the next “Marv” more than ever.
Marv Levy wasn’t just a head coach, he was a leader of men. The players on the Buffalo Bills who played under Marv Levy would have run through a brick wall or the fires of hell for him. One of the biggest reason for his teams success was that he inspired and led to to strive for greatness. This is exactly what the Buffalo Bills need to find in their next head coach. While no one will ever replace Marv Levy, the Bills can certainly find a coach who can lead them to success the way Marv did. It’s imperative that the Pegula’s do this immediately or the talent rich Bills roster will be wasted.
The turnstiles at One Bills Drive have been working overtime the past week as head coaching candidates are brought in for interviews and the Bills look for their next “Marv”. Let’s take a look at a few of the candidates and weight the pros and cons of each.
1) Mike Shanahan: The polarizing figure would bring one thing to Buffalo: a track record of success. While most of his success came in Denver with John Elway, Shanahan still has an excellent career coaching record and is an offensive wizard. The Bills offensive line woes and running game problems would be instantly solved, because one thing Shanahan is excellent at, it’s getting huge success in the running game. Terrell Davis can certainly thank Shanahan for his hall of fame resume, and the other litany of backs he brought in during his coaching career were nonames until he made them successful. Some cons with Shanahan is that he is thought to have a huge ego and will demand total control over the player personnel department. He would also likely bring in his son to fill the offensive coordinator position, and it is rumored that Shanahan does not hold his son accountable for his bad play calls. Another question that would remain to be answered is whether or not Shanahan and Jim Schwartz could co-exist on the same staff due to Shanahan’s ego. All in all, I think the Bills should pass on Shanahan. His better days may be behind him, and while he would help the offense, I think that the rest of the intangibles make him not worth the risk. I’d pass on Shanahan.
2) Adam Gase: The Broncos offensive coordinator has been a hot name in the interview circuits since black Monday. Gase is basically known for one thing: being the Broncos offensive coordinator with Peyton Manning. While the Denver offense has been excellent since Manning arrived in Denver, saying that your one claim to fame is being the offensive coordinator to Peyton Manning isn’t really saying much, in my opinion. How would Gase work with an inexperienced quarterback like EJ Manuel? It remains to be seen. While Gase would certainly bring offensive creativity with him to Buffalo, I am not so sure that he has the amount of experience that it would take to command the locker rooms veterans. If I were the Bills I would pass on Gase. I want someone with a little more experience.
3) Frank Reich: Reich is best known for his playing days in Buffalo as Jim Kelly’s backup and the architect of the biggest comeback in NFL history in “the comeback” game in the AFC playoffs against the Houston Oilers. While Reich would be a popular name amongst the Bills fans and in the city of Buffalo, I am not sure that he has the experience that the other candidates offer. Reich’s biggest claim to fame at this point in his coaching career is that he was Chargers offensive coordinator, and he has held that job for exactly one year. Considering he was working with an established veteran like Philip Rivers, that is not exactly the biggest resume builder. While Reich may one day be a great head coach, I am not sure that it is time for him to make that next step. I would pass on Reich, as much as I love him as a player, he just isn’t ready yet, in my opinion.
4) Jim Schwartz: Schwartz would be a popular choice in the Buffalo locker room after the year he just had as Bills defensive coordinator. Schwartz is just one year removed from head coach of the Detroit Lions, who let him go prior to this season. Schwartz had mixed success in Detroit, taking them to the playoffs in 2011, but tanking 5 of the last 6 games last year and missing the playoffs. One thing is for sure: Schwartz is a defensive mastermind. The question that begs to answer is he the type of coach who is better as a coordinator than a head coach? While some could say that to be true, I think Schwartz did enough in Detroit to warrant another look. Right now Schwartz is my second choice for the next Bills coach.
5) Rex Ryan: Ryan is scheduled to interview in Buffalo on Thursday. Ryan, who was just let go by the Jets, certainly would be a likeable character in the Buffalo locker room and a total 180 from the maligned Doug Marrone’s piss poor attitude. Say what you want to about Rex, but players play hard for and respect him. If the Bills kept Jim Schwartz on as defensive coordinator, the Buffalo defense would be the best in the league under the guidance of these two defensive masterminds. While it can be said that Rex never developed offensive talent in New York, it can also be said that he never had a weapon as good as Sammy Watkins. Additionally, for a quarterback lacking confidence like EJ Manuel, Ryan would certainly help in that department. If the Bills were to bring in Rex, they should ensure that they bring in a true offensive coordinator or tell Rex to keep his hands off the offense. Let Rex be the leader and everything would be gravy. I am very interested in Ryan as the next head coach for Buffalo. You know one thing for sure, he would certainly be motivated to beat New England and the Jets. Right now, Ryan is my top choice for Bills coach.
While I understand that my analysis of the coaches listed above and my endorsement for Rex Ryan to coach the Bills will not be popular with many, it is truly how I feel. I feel that after the Doug Marrone uninspired era in Buffalo ended, it is time to bring in a head coach who you know the players will go to battle for. Rex is that type of coach. While you can certainly argue that he isn’t the best offensive mind in the NFL, he took the Jets to two straight AFC championship games on the strength of his defense. Considering that the defense is in place in Buffalo, doesn’t it make sense to give Rex a shot? Bring in a real offensive coordinator and let’s get to work!!