An Outsiders Perspective of our Buffalo Bills

I recently had a discussion with a college friend of mine named Cole Coyle about our beloved sports teams.  Coyle resides in Pearl River, New York (downstate) and is not on the pulse of Buffalo sports media like we are.  I think its interesting to hear a Bills perspective from people outside the local market.  Coyle decided to write a piece exclusively for The Herd Report regarding the 2014 Buffalo Bills season, Marrone's departure, and the new coaching search.  

 

The State of the Buffalo Bills: An Outsiders Perspective

Season Recap

What a year for the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills finished the season with a 9-7 record.  This season in Buffalo, was one of the most exciting in years.  The Bills beat teams like the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots at home.  They also introduced Johnny Football to the NFL.  It is safe to say whoever the Bills hire, will have extremely high expectations for next season.  Head coach Doug Marrone opted out of his contract with the western New York team to pursue other avenues.  This was a clause in his contract after new ownership, Terry and Kerry Pegula, purchased the Bills.  Now, again, the Bills have to find a new head coach.

The Bills have a true candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year in Kyle Orton.  The savvy veteran quarterback joined the Bills in a time of need.  EJ Manuel, the 2nd year quarterback out of Florida State, was not producing like the coaches would have liked.  Orton came in and put up good numbers, but most importantly produced wins for Buffalo.  The addition of Jim Schwartz, former Detroit Lions Head Coach, as defensive coordinator, immensely helped the Bills defense.  Star players like Kiko Alonso and CJ Spiller missed a ton of games for the Bills this year.  Can Kiko come back and be the same player he was his rookie year?  The Bills have some major question marks that need to be addressed, but the fan base in western New York is buzzing and can’t wait for another winning season next year.

Now What?

The quarterback position is still in question in Buffalo.  Yes, Kyle Orton came in this season and performed admirably, but he is not a long-term solution for the Bills.  The Bills can turn back to EJ Manuel and see if he has anything left in the tank.  The first round pick of Doug Marrone’s Bills has not played up to standards thus far.  My guess is the Bills go one more season without drafting another quarterback.  The Bills can resign Kyle Orton as well as keep EJ Manuel on the roster.  Another option for the Bills is to sign a quarterback in free agency.  Look for Matt Moore, the former Miami Dolphins quarterback to be a big splash in free agency.  Options are always a good thing in the NFL, even if they aren’t the brightest options.

The running back position is a mess in Buffalo.  CJ Spiller, Boobie Dixon and Bryce Brown all had down years.  Fred Jackson is still the only reliable running back the Bills have.  CJ Spiller is a free agent to be.  Can and will the Bills sign him?  I highly doubt it.  The Bills won’t spend their money on someone who has consistently underperformed and is continuously injured.  Look for the Bills to draft a running back in the later rounds of the NFL draft, similar to what the Washington Redskins did with Alfred Morris.

Although the Bills defense was nearly impossible to run on this season, they need help in their secondary.  You can always find secondary help through the free agent market for relatively cheap.  Kareem Jackson, Antonio Cromartie and Bradley Fletcher are all veteran cornerbacks who will need a place to land via free agency.  Look for the Bills to make signing one of these three a priority in the offseason.

Head Coaches

This is the first time that Terry and Kim Pegula will be signing an NFL head coach.  The Pegulas, owners of the Buffalo Sabres, have plenty of experience dealing with sports business and hiring head coaches.

Candidates:

1. Mike Shanahan – Former Washington Redskins HC

Rumors are swirling around the fact that Shanahan wants to return to the NFL.  The former Super Bowl winning HC is scheduled to interview with the Buffalo Bills.  This would be a great fit for Shanahan and the Bills.  Shanahan has always been known as a Blue Collar kind of guy.  The people of Buffalo will respect, and eventually, come to love him.  The Bills would make a splash by signing the aggressive offensive HC.

2. Adam Gase – Denver Broncos OC

Gase is widely known as one of the most innovative offensive minds in the NFL.  The 36 year old would become the youngest HC in the NFL.  Gase has worked with Peyton Manning the past few seasons and undoubtedly has learned a lot about the game.  Do we know if Gase can command an NFL locker room?  That is up for grabs.  But what we do know is his offense puts up points, and thats what Buffalo needs.

3. Josh McDaniels – New England Patriots OC

The former Denver Broncos HC has gone back to the Patriots to work with Tom Brady for the past few seasons.  McDaniels made a ton of major mistakes as the HC of the Broncos.  The headliner, of course, was drafting Tim Tebow in the first round of the NFL draft.  Although Tebow did beat the Steelers in the playoffs, the team decided to part ways with the quarterback and McDaniels.  McDaniels, like Gase, would bring innovative offense to the Bills.  I believe McDaniels is happy in New England and will stay put, but if the offer is right, you never know.

Dark Horses:

1. Jim Schwartz – Buffalo Bills DC

Could the Bills promote their DC to HC?  It is possible.  But very unlikely.  The last time Schwartz was a HC with the Detroit Lions, they were the most penalized team in the league.  Schwartz is a great DC, but I don’t believe he has what it takes to win big games in the NFL.  Look for Schwartz to remain on the Bills coaching staff as DC.

2. Rex Ryan – Former New York Jets HC

Yup!  You heard it here first.  Imagine, Rex Ryan, as the HC of the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills have shown interest in Ryan, and Ryan has shown interest in the Bills.  We all know what Rex is, a glorified DC, who really doesn’t know how to manage a game properly.  With the right OC, Rex Ryan can do big things in the NFL.  The Bills already run a 3-4 defense, so Ryan would fit right in.  Rex needs someone to take care of the offense.  Hopefully he has learned from his mistakes with the Jets!  Buffalonians would absolutely love Rex if he produces wins.

 

Cole Coyle