Monday, December 31, 2012

Bills Fans Say "Don't Re-Tread On Me"

G:TB superfan Work Jerry alerted Teedge and me (not I) of Chan Gailey's rumored termination and requested a post summarizing candidates for the big chair at One Bills Drive. So here we are.

Since the great Marv Levy retired, the Bills have suffered through five-and-a-half head coaches: Wade Phillips, Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron, Perry Fewell (only on an interim basis for 7 games, and thus only half a coach), and Chan Gailey. Phillips was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach when Levy retired and at the time the move made sense, or at least was defensible (pun!) as Buffalo's defense was pretty good under Phillips and promoting from 'twixt Marv's ranks made sense to Bills fans. That Phillips phloundered as HC in Denver a few years earlier wasn't a concern, as Marv was a retread from KC when the Bills hired him. Although he's generally viewed as a dolt and a failure, Phillips had a 0.604 win percentage in Buffalo (29-19) and was the last coach to take them to the playoffs (in 1998 and 1999), although he never won a playoff game.

The Gregg Williams hire also made more than an insignificant amount of sense in 2001. Williams was the engineer of Tennessee's ferocious defense that was arguably best in the league in 2000. He was only about 42 at the time and never held a head coaching position at the NFL level so he didn't have to carry retread baggage. Who wouldn't want a young, successful, innovative defensive mind to take over a team with lots of young talent on defense? Williams went 17-31 in three seasons and was fired after the 2003 campaign even though he turned the defense into a top-5 unit. The real problem with the 2003 squad was the offense, which mustered a meager 11 passing TD and 13 rushing TD in 16 games, resulting in the 30th fewest points scored. Thanks Bledsoe! Williams went on to have relative success in Washington and later won a Super Bowl in New Orleans where he tried to have several players mutilated, leading to what appears to be a lifetime ban from the NFL.

The Bills then turned to Mike Mularkey, who coordinated the Pittsburgh's 20th-ranked offense the year before. Like Williams, Mularkey had no head coaching experience and was something of an up-and-coming youngster who put together top-8 offenses in 2001 and 2002 with Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox. It seemed like a great idea at the time to bring in an offensive guru to straighten things out on that side of the ball and just maintain Williams' solid defense. It didn't work out as planned, and, in fact, was a complete mess. By 2005 the Bills ranked 24th or worse in points and yardage on both offense and defense, and Mularkey was fired with a 14-18 record in Buffalo. Mularkey is now shitting the bed as HC in Jacksonville, where the 2-12 Jaguars rank 31st in offensive points and yardage. At least he achieved symmetry.

After the mularkey with Mularkey, the braintrust in Buffalo decided to go retread again and hired Dick Jauron who despite having 2001 Coach of the Year on his resume was a clearly terrible candidate with a 36-49 record as HC and only one season with more than seven wins, including a 1-4 stint as interim head coach in Detroit in 2005 after Steve Mariucci got canned. Remarkably, the Bills took Detroit's castoff and put him in charge. Jauron went 7-9 three years in a row and was 3-6 in 2009 when Ralph Wilson took pity on me and relieved Jauron of his duties (or, in his case, doodies). Perry Fewell took over and stood no chance of getting the HC job, what with Jauron's stench and stain upon him.

Which brings us to Chan Gailey, who was a very successful OC with Pittsburgh in 1996-97 with Mike Tomczak and Kordell Stewart (history repeating?). Gailey was the HC in Dallas in 1998-99, where he went 18-14 and engineered top-10 offenses both years. After Jerry Jones gave him the boot for an 8-8 season (which was probably appropriate given all the HOF/Pro Bowl talent they had), he was the OC in Miami for two years where he was the steward of a statistically below-average offense. From 2002-2007 he was the HC at Georgia Tech, where he went 44-32, including 2-4 in Bowls, and never won an ACC Championship. Somehow he became the OC for the Chiefs in 2008 who ranked 24th and 26th in yards and points respectively. After about a decade of mediocrity, Gailey apparently held no football-related job in 2009. Then Buddy Nix swooped in and put him in charge of the Bills in 2010. Since then he is 15-32, or 0.319 for those of you without calculators handy. Predicting this undesired outcome does not require genius-level intelligence -- indeed, I'm an idiot and my first reaction to the Gailey hiring was "I want to die" (scroll down to the comments for all the scatological fun).

Gailey has to be out after this year. HAS to. Would you play for a man who throws like this?

Who Has The Funnier Challenge-Flag-Throwing Motion, Andy Reid Or Chan Gailey?

I could prepare a list of candidates that I would like to get the job, the usual suspects like Cowher and Gruden, but all of those guys are too smart to even interview for the position. So here's a list of mopes that I predict will don a suit and tie and meet with the Bills' geriatric braintrust. Like my johnson, this list is short and undistinguished. I fully expect the Bills to hire another team's castoff to retread the HC position. The only question is, how far removed from his last head coaching job will the new hire be?

Andy Reid
Reid won't get the job because he's too legitimate: he has a 130-92-1 regular season record, he's 10-9 in the postseason, and his offenses are consistently excellent. He makes the list because he has a very Buffalo look about him and I can envision Buddy Nix offering to bring McNabb in to play QB. Although he qualifies as a retread he is way too qualified to handle the reins in Buffalo.


Norv Turner
Norv looks like a good fit in light of the foregoing. He has a goofy name like "Gregg" and "Chan" and he experienced tremendous success as an OC in the 1990s with the Cowboys. He is 113-122-1 in the regular season and 4-4 in the postseason, and these numbers may actually be too good for him to get the job in Buffalo. I know Skins fans loathe Norv but he took Washington to the playoffs and won a game which is more than anyone has done for Buffalo since Marv Levy beat the Dolphins on December 30, 1995 by calling 49 rushing plays on a 26 degree afternoon. Not a typo. December 30, 1995. It's been 17 years. But I digress. Simply put, Norv Turner is too good an option to make the grade for the Bills. They will dig deeper.


Mike Nolan
Mike Nolan is one of those guys who remain inexplicably employed in high level positions, making him a strong to quite strong candidate for the Bills. He broke onto the scene as the Giants' DC in 1993, a year in which the G-Men ranked 1st and 5th in points and yards allowed, respectively. The Giants' defense drifted into mediocrity over the next few years under Nolan. He became the Skins' DC in 1997, and their defense became increasingly worse under his steady hand, culminating in the 1999 season when his defense ranked 30th and 24th (out of 31 teams) in yards and points. He then put up a good season as the Jets' DC, making them an above-average unit. The next year he was Baltimore's WR coach, which is a totally logical career progression. In 2002 he became the Ravens' DC and they had a below-average defense, which is remarkable because they were top-10 for the three years before and the four years after that. To his credit, Nolan oversaw two of those top-10 years (2003 and 2004) before landing the HC job in SF. Under Nolan the Niners had one of the worst defenses in the league from 2005-2008. He then ran fair-to-middling defenses in Denver and Miami. He is now the DC in Atlanta, where they currently rank a tough-to-reconcile 23rd in yards and 4th in points. Nolan was 18-37 as the HC in SF and he never made the playoffs. In fact, he never won more than 7 games in a season. This record of low achievement and making sow's ears out of silk purses makes Nolan a great fit for the Bills, but at 53 years old he might be too young. Nolan's old-timey habit of coaching in a suit might confuse Nix into thinking Nolan is elderly, so that helps his cause.


Ted Marchibroda
Ted Marchibroda is a spry 81 years young, 8 years older than Buddy Nix and 13 years younger than Ralph Wilson. So he gets all their cultural references to Packards and Claudette Colbert. Marchibroda is so old that he was the #5 overall pick in the 1953 draft, back when there were 30 rounds and 13 teams. Marchibroda also has ties to the Bills as the architect of the K-Gun offense when he was Marv Levy's OC from 1989 to 1991. He's 87-98-1 as HC with a 2-4 playoff performance. Those two playoff wins seem like two too many for the Bills, but both came in ... wait for it ... 1995! Symmetry! His teams made the playoffs three other times, in 1975, 1976, and 1977. These dates may be a bit too recent for Nix and Wilson's approval but they are pretty attenuated. He hasn't coached since 1998. There's no way in hell that Marchibroda is up the task of working 14 hour days or even staying awake for three consecutive hours on a Sunday afternoon. I expect him to make it to the final round of interviews.


Weeb Ewbank
Weeb has a preposterous name like Chan and he's over 90 like Ralph Wilson. He has three rings, his most recent coming with division rival New York. The Bills have lost 6 in a row to the Jets and 8 of the last 9. Weeb's inside info as a former Jet coach would be just the edge the Bills need to get past them. Some will say that his 0.502 regular season and 0.800 postseason records are too good, but Ralph and Buddy might look past this in light of the fact that Ewbank hasn't coached in 40 years. And he's in the Hall of Fame! Who could pass on a pedigree like this? The fact that he's dead cuts against him, but not enough to preclude him from getting the job.


I realize that my hiring odds figures add up to well more than 100%, but I took SSMCIS, a curriculum developed in the early 1960's in response to the first Sputnik launch which convinced American educators that the US lagged behind the Russians in math and science. Accordingly, I, like the Bills' front office, rely on new math and all hiring odds figures are presented in base 8. Tom Lehrer can explain it for you.


T.J. said...

In Weeb We Trust

Jerry said...

I could never believe that they hired Jauron or Gailey. Not that hiring retreads is always a bad move, but those two guys are just so uninspiring. Hope is a big part of a new hire for teams that have sucked for a while. Those guys offered zero (probably negative) hope.

If they want to continue in that tradition, Kevin Gilbride would fit the bill brilliantly. Every once in a while announcers during Giants games question why he doesn't get HC offers. I think the answer is that there's only 1 Bills job.

A guy I actually like is Denver's OC Mike McCoy. The guy built the Tebow offense last year mid-season, which is impressive. And this year he's studying under Peyton Manning. Adaptability is something that you want in a coach and he seems to have it.

Danimal said...

that was worth a few chuckles minimum. del rio is going to be a consideration, no? after the clusterfuck that jacksonville has become i now hold del rio in relatively high regard.

Danimal said...

mularkey? oh yeah, he's wicked good. ya know how when expansion teams have their first season, made up of rookies and free agents, none of whom having played together? ya know how they usually go 0-16 or 1-15 or 2-14....well the jags won 4 games in their inaugural, two more than this season. YOU LIKE APPLES?!

zman said...

Jerry hit the nail on the head, Buffalo's HC hires have been increasingly bad to the point where they suck hope out of me. Phillips and Williams were legit hires and at the time it felt like the Bills were trying to make a smart move. Mularkey was a bit of a head-scratcher but I figured they knew what they were doing. Jauron and Gailey were just terrible picks.

T.J. said...

G:TB will end this year with 307 posts...our lowest output since 2007.

T.J. said...

I read up a bit on McCoy for some SB Nation stuff I had to do yesterday - he is perhaps the "hottest" candidate out there.

But, if he is, why take crap Bills job? Go take the Bears gig.

rob said...

teej, if you'd read day 11, you'd already know that statistic about our postcount. thanks for caring enough to read our stuff, jerk.

T.J. said...

pipe down

rob said...

i'm running a 10k tomorrow morning. seemed like a good idea when i agreed to it.

actually, it really didn't. it seemed as stupid then as it does now, but i'm pretty sure i was drunk when i said i'd do it.

mayhugh said...

NC State/Vandy anybody?

Was Lovie a bit of a surprise firing? A 3-5 finish is not great but isn't that more of a schedule thing than anything else? They started 7-1 against the likes of the Jags, Cowboys, pre-ChuckStrong Colts, Titans, Rams, Lions and Panthers. Their 5 losses in the second half of the season came against the Texans, 49ers, Seahawks, Vikings, and Packers (all playoff teams with 10 or more wins). Seems a little rash, don't you think?

zman said...

I agree that firing Lovie was rash, especially considering that Jason Campbell was involved, but he only has one playoff appearance in the past six years.

Shlara said...

Ovechkin just announced on twitter that he and Maria Kirilinko are engaged.
Guess he's trying to upstage Kimye

rob said...

the bills should hire belichick


zman said...

Speaking of former Jet coaches like Belichick, I would honestly be happy with two years under septagenarian Bill Parcells. Give him two drafts and the Bills will be in much better shape. Tool on me at will.

rob said...

vandy just won their 9th football game of the season. first time they did that since 1915. so you're sayin' there's a chance.

zman said...

A few surprising stats that went relatively unaddressed:

Matthew Stafford threw 727 passes, most ever in a season. That's over 45 per game. Two of the top five seasons in terms of pass attempts belong to Stafford. He's thrown 1390 passes in the past two years.

Drew Brees threw for over 5000 yards for the third time. Three of the top five passing yardage seasons belong to Brees. He led the league this year and last year in yardage. The last time someone led the league two years in a row was 1990-91 (Warren Moon).

Brees also led the league in TD with 43 for the second year in a row (he had 46 last year). He and Dan Marino are the only people to have thrown for >40 TD twice. The last time someone led the league two years in a row was 1996-97 (Brett Favre).

RG3 finished with the fewest interceptions, the most yards per pass attempt, and the 3rd highest QB rating.

Nine people in league history have averaged more than 6 yards per carry on more than 150 attempts. Two of those people did it in 2012, despite the league's new rules incentivizing the pass.

Everyone knows that Calvin Johnson set the league record for receiving yards on 122 receptions, 4th highest ever. But he only caught 5 TD, fewer than Scott Chandler, Danario Alexander, and Kyle Rudolph.

James Jones led the league in receiving TD with 14. I took him in the 13th round of my fantasy league. I didn't make the playoffs though.

Tony Gonzalez had 980 yards on 93 receptions for 8 TD. In league history he is #2 in reception, #6 in receiving TD, and #7 in yardage. I don't believe this, but that's what the internet says.

Jerry said...

The 10 minute CBS Matt Barkley infomercial on leading the team to volunteer in Haiti is solidifying his top 3 draft status.

Matthew Stafford might not even be good, but if he stays healthy he's going to put up absolutely ridiculous career stats. He's got almost 13,000 yards at age 24. Only 14 guys have thrown for 40,000 in their career.

The career passing and receiving leaderboard is going to look very weird in 15-20 years.

Jerry said...

Unconfirmed rumors saying Nick Saban to the Cardinals.

zman said...

What's the best job out there? Chicago?

Jerry said...

10% of my Twitter followers are Pizza Hut franchises in England.

T.J. said...

Yes, zman. Yes

Clarence said...

I used to work in Chicago. I don't work there any more.

Dave said...

great year in review, rob! i might be inspired to do a "biggest stories of 2013" tomorrow. and nice job on the bills, as always, zman. i am just catching up, as i spent eight hours in the car yesterday, returning from new hampshire, and i was running a 103 fever. i will start the new year without a hangover, but feeling like shit, nonetheless.

rob said...

you waited until 1/3/12 for a year in review last year, so you've got some room for improvement this year. looking forward to it.

rob said...

soul patch update: still pretty scraggly. not really pleased. thinking about performance enhancing drugs.

rob said...

gave my 8 year-old daughter my old iphone a few months ago. she just came over to me and said, 'daddy, i didn't take this picture', handed me the phone. it was cocaine bear, complete with 'i fucking love cocaine' caption. father of the year, 2012, late entry.

Danimal said...

I think maybe we should begin ranking the rankers each year vs. The rankees. (insert asian joke here). Maybe usc didn't disappoint. Maybe they were supposed to finish in the Top 50 rather than the top 2. An extreme example yes. But for come none of these schmucks get their balls busted for being so off? Loads of examples. Bitches man.

Danimal said...

You have probably heard that 50% of asians have cataracts. The others half Rincoln Continentals.

Whitney said...

Post up -- the last of 2012.

If you're ranking by quality.

amanda young said...

Loved watching this! This was a cute song (although Lehrer's got MUCH better), but the video made it! Well done! Amanda Vanderpool