Buffalo Bills maintain coordinator continuity in 2019

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

In retaining both offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, the Buffalo Bills are on the verge of doing something they haven’t achieved since 2011.

Continuity is one of those buzzwords thrown out to describe what is needed to build a winning team. The Buffalo Bills have struggled with finding continuity.

While the focus should be on the free agent and draft additions to continue building the Bills, it should not be overlooked that the Bills will hold the same offensive and defensive coordinators entering a second season for the first time since 2016.

For the first time since 2016 the Bills will enter training camp with the same two offensive/defensive coordinators they started the prior season with. However, under Rex Ryan, year two for DC Dennis Thurman was mostly just in title only, and the OC Greg Roman couldn’t last three games before being fired.

To find a duo that lasted more time, but still entered two straight seasons with their titles, you need to go all the way back to 2011 under then head coach Chan Gailey. Gailey ran the offense and defense himself, but his coordinators still remained for two years in Curtis Modkins (OC) and George Edwards (DC).

If that wasn’t surprising enough, the next time you can find two coordinators to finish two consecutive seasons for the Bills is back to 2007 with Steve Fairchild (OC) and Perry Fewell (DC) under Dick Jauron.

Of the teams still alive in the playoffs today, only the Rams, Cowboys, Saints and Chargers brought back the same offensive and defensive coordinators for consecutive seasons. This isn’t to say that to have continuity will equate to success in 2019. Often playoff teams will have their top assistants plucked for head coaching jobs as they find success. This is the case with New England (Brian Flores – Miami) and the LA Rams (Zac Taylor) this season.

For the Bills to take the next step as a team, specifically as a young team, they need to expand their playbook and have the game slow down for the entire roster. While adding new pieces this offseason won’t speed anything up, having the same playbooks will for the majority of the roster.

NFL games are chess matches, moves and plays set up counters and double moves later in the game or even weeks later. For the Bills, each season has featured one side of the ball learning a new scheme or playbook relatively consistently since 2011.

Take a fun stretch from 2012-2017 where the Bills flipped from 3-4 to 4-3 defenses four separate times in a five-year span. That type of change hinders roster development, and allows strong players to consistently leave year to year.

Keeping the same coaches means more to the Bills than other franchises at this stage of their build. Finally, Brandon Beane can add depth to both sides of the ball, rather than mix and match players who awkwardly fit a new scheme. The Bills players will see the game slow down as their knowledge of the basics is built in prior to training camp, and adding tricks will be featured in 2019.

Like the majority of teams, the Bills’ head coach features his style on one side of the ball. In this case it’s defense, but Sean McDermott has clearly ceded the majority of play-call duties and practices to Leslie Frazier.

It’s still important for a new head coach in McDermott to keep his process progressing, and that includes trusting his DC Frazier to get things done. Frazier has had two very good seasons with the Bills thus far, and while he was called for interviews with the Colts last season, his top five NFL defense didn’t net him any new interviews this year.

On offense the Bills will retain Brian Daboll for a second year. This is big for a franchise that is looking at Daboll to develop QB Josh Allen. Daboll didn’t have much to work with on the offensive side of the ball this season, so seeing the offense take strides under Allen and Daboll was enough for Daboll to stay.

There will always be the slight risk that too much improvement on offense would net Daboll a head coaching job elsewhere in 2020, but let’s worry about that if it happens.

This season featured eight head coaching vacancies, and six of them went to former offensive coordinators. Success for Daboll means, more likely than Frazier, he will be the culprit for a change at a coordinator position. Which, if in 2020 he lands a head coaching spot, it would be because Allen and the Bills offense vastly improved in 2020.

Next. Good, bad, and ugly McDermott’s first two years. dark

As we shift to the 2019 version of the Buffalo Bills, enjoy free agency and the draft, but look forward to a rarity for this franchise in recent memory, and that is consistency within the primary coaching staff.