According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the former offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills has decided to become the quarterbacks coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015. Hackett will join the staff of head coach Gus Bradley, who hired former Bills head coach Doug Marrone as his offensive line coach earlier this offseason.
Hackett reportedly pulled out of the discussion to become the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams to take the job in being the point man for developing former first-round pick Blake Bortles starting in 2015. He and Bradley previously served on the same staff in Tampa Bay in 2006 and 2007.
Hackett served as the Bills offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, before being released from his contract by the team after Marrone elected to opt out of his head coaching contract. He also interviewed for the offensive coordinator post in Jacksonville earlier this month.
The Buffalo Bills made the official introductions of the two new top assistants to head coach Rex Ryan on Tuesday and preached both togetherness and working well as a unit. When he addressed the media for the first time as the defensive coordinator of the Bills, Dennis Thurman had similar thoughts in regards to both how the coaches work together, and, with how the coaches best utilize the players.
Having worked with Rex Ryan since 2002, and as an assistant under him since Ryan first became a head coach in 2009, Thurman described the coaching environment in the defensive room as a collaborative effort. The collaboration has largely surrounded a 3-4 defensive scheme in the time the two have been coaching together.
With various players on the Bills roster who are better fits for one defensive scheme over another, would the Bills make the switch back to the defense that has served Ryan and Thurman so well in the past? At least at this point in time, that won't be the case.
"Whatever the talent dictates," Thurman said Tuesday. "We'll play a 3-4, we'll play a 4-3. We'll get in the 46. We'll get in an odd front. It's whatever our guys do best. We're gonna play to their strengths, and when you do that, you're giving your guys a chance to be successful. That's what it really comes down to, is those guys that are out there on the field, are you giving them the opportunity to go out and succeed? So it doesn't matter."
As the Buffalo Bills introduced their two new coordinators on Tuesday afternoon, the question that has been hovering over Orchard Park like a dark cloud for years once again came up. How will this staff, as opposed to all the predecessors that could not find the answer, going to address the quarterback position?
The Bills new offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, has had a fair share of success in not only steering the ship of a successful offense -- but in doing so with a young quarterback like Colin Kaepernick. Now, Roman is charged with figuring out the Buffalo quarterback situation, and the team only has two on the roster.
EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel are the lone holdovers from the previous coaching staff, but that doesn't necessarily mean that their immediate futures with the team are predetermined. Roman said Manuel, the team's first-round pick in 2013, will get his chance to start fresh with the new coaching staff.
"I'm not going to get into specifics. but I definitely think he's done some very good things and displayed some good traits. We just have to get his level of consistency a little bit greater. Really, he and everybody else, once we get thru this evaluation process, we're going to have a very clean slate, once we get going because what they might have been asked to do or done in the past is really not relevant to what we may or may not ask them to do. So to sit here and pontificate about this that and the other, is a little premature."
Manuel is entering the third year of his career, after being benched only four games into 2014.
After just two short years with the previous coaching staff, the Buffalo Bills officially introduced the two top assistants on head coach Rex Ryan's staff. Greg Roman will run the offense as the coordinator, while Dennis Thurman will be Ryan's right hand man as the defensive coordinator.
"Very fortunate to get them. I'm fortunate that my owner has deep pockets, because it cost a lot to get both of these guys, and for good reason," Ryan joked. "This is an exciting time for me. Something I'm excited about is the coaches that we're bringing in. Try to get an all-star staff together, but more importantly, an all-star staff that is just like this. We are together."
Roman will get the keys to an offense that struggled during the 2014 season and has the task to figure it all out. Previously with the San Francisco 49ers in the same role, Roman has had much success and was even on the Bills' list for head coaching candidates just a few weeks ago.
Under Roman's care, the 49ers rushing attack was among the top units in the NFL. With major questions still yet to be answered at quarterback, it appears the running game will once again hold the majority of focus for his offense.
"We want to run the football to a level where people respect and fear us in our ability to do so," the new Bills OC said. "That will help everything else in the offense open up and help us control the game which is ultimately what we want to do."
This won't be the first time that Roman and Rex Ryan will have been on the same coaching staff, but it will be the first time that they are together in prominent roles on a staff. Roman said that the two had always felt they would eventually come together, and when they did, it had the potential to go very well.
Ryan and his new offensive coordinator first met in Baltimore, and the Bills head coach knew early on that there was something a bit different about Roman.
"I knew right then that the times I got to talk football with him, this guy gets it," Ryan said. "He's all about wins. It was never about, when I talked about, 'hey, we want to league the lead in passing and all that.' If that comes with it, great. Want to lead the league in rushing? That's even better, but we just want to win. That's him."
Roman agreed, albeit in confident tone that bordered on cockiness when asked to discuss getting the running game back on track in Buffalo.
"Look at my track record. The greatest predictor of future events is the past, I can stand up and tell you we could have been No. 1 in the league in rushing every year in San Francisco, if I wanted to be No. 1 in rushing, I could have done that," he said. "My goal is to win, but you have to strike a commensurate level of balance to do so in this league."
On the defensive side, which remains the unit that is near and dear to Ryan's heart to this day, is a coach that he's known and been on the same staff with since 2002. Dennis Thurman takes over the Bills defense, a familiar role and relationship between he and Ryan over the last two years with the New York Jets.
"One of the smartest guys I've ever been around. He gets things quick," the new Bills head coach said of Thurman. "The players love him, respect him. Like I say, we've been together for a long time, and it's because I need him. Happy to have him here. It's one of those things, 'I hope you sign me quick, so I can keep Dennis.' Makes me look good."
Unlike Roman, Thurman is inheriting a squad that was among the top defensive units in all the NFL last season. With the reputation of defensive prowess that exists for both he and Ryan, the expectations are high for the Bills in 2015.
It's important for a head coach to be on the same page with both his coordinators, and especially with the side of the ball that the head coach has more of a background in. Ryan and Thurman are as thick as thieves, and say they have complete trust in one another.
"Yeah, I mean, we have similar brains. We're like-minded in a lot of things, in a lot of ways. The most important thing for us, Rex already said it, is to do things was a team," the new Bills defensive coordinator said. "There's talent on this defense up front, at linebacker, and in the secondary. Our job is to put that talent in the best position to give them an opportunity to be successful. That's all we've ever tried to do. That's all we've ever wanted to do."
With a defensive-minded head coach in place in Ryan, who in most years has been the man calling the plays for his team, it's fair to wonder if that would be the case once again in Buffalo. Thurman described that it wasn't as simple as just who is calling the plays on the sidelines.
"Well it's more collaborative, except for most of the words come out of Rex's mouth first," Thurman explained. "We game plan together every week. We set up our game plan and how we want to call the game the closer we get towards the game. We'll get the whole defensive staff together and we'll go in an office and we'll sit down and we'll collectively go through situations and what calls we like best in those situations. So we try to do things as much as a defensive staff as we can. One, two, three, four, five brains are better than one. No one guys is going to be able to do this job by himself. We take input from everybody. I think that's one of our strengths."
"Both these guys, quite honestly, we're going to enjoy them while we can, because both of them will be head coaches in this league soon," Rex Ryan said confidently. "But, it is true, these guys are terrific, and they're going to be terrific together."
The main positions on the coaching staff of the Buffalo Bills have slowly been filling up since Rex Ryan was hired as the next head coach of the franchise, but there were still some formal agreements that needed to be made. The Bills announced the hiring of six more coaches to Ryan's staff in various roles.
Aaron Kromer (offensive line), Sanjay Lal (wide receivers), Anthony Lynn (assistant head coach and running backs), Chris Palmer (senior offensive assistant), D'Anton Lynn (defensive assistant), and Michael Hamlin (special teams quality control) have all been signed as assistants on the team's revamped staff. The Bills also announced that assistants Donnie Henderson (defensive backs), Jason Rebrovich (outside linebackers), Kurt Anderson (assistant offensive line), and Jason Vrable (offensive quality control) had been retained from Doug Marrone's staff.
Kromer joins the Bills staff after serving as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears over the past two seasons. Before that, he had been on the New Orleans Saints staff as the offensive line coach.
Palmer is the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns and last served as an offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans. He has 22 years of coaching experience in the NFL. Lal, along with both Anthony Lynn and D'Anton Lynn, will all join the Bills staff after having been with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets last season.
Each week on WGR550.com, a position will be featured with a handful of names to ponder as that week progresses. By the time the 2015 NFL Draft comes around in May, followers of the series will have an enhanced look at some of the players the Buffalo Bills may be interested in.
This week the spotlight is on the running backs, and if one is picked by the Bills, they could play a fairly prominent role for the team in 2015. In today's feature, we take a look at one of the more physical runners available:
Where he may project: Day 2 to Early Day 3 (Rounds 2-4)
- Although Mike Davis isn't the tallest of running backs, he plays much bigger than his height. He is the type of runner that craves contact, resists being brought down to the turf as much as possible and comes from the Mark Ingram school of angry running. When he sees a lane he has very good acceleration and shoots out of a cannon to get to his desired area of the field. He also has the ability set up defenders with his feet and fall forward upon contact. Davis needs to work on his pass protection, which will limit any potential impact and keep him off the field on third downs unless he improves. He will miss some running lanes at times as well and needs to work to improve his vision. If he progresses, Davis could be a perfect fit for a team in search of a physical, punishing running back to lead their attack.
With the entirety of the National Football League spending the week in Mobile, Alabama, it's safe to officially anoint the opening of draft season in 2015. The Pro Bowl and Super Bowl still need to be played, but for 30 other teams around the league the biggest focus of the offseason will be to scout for talent in the league's annual selection meeting.
Now under 100 days away from the 2015 NFL Draft, it's time for the familiarization with some of the prospects at each position. Each week here on WGR550.com, a new position will be featured with a handful of names to ponder as that week progresses.
Depending on what the Buffalo Bills will want to do with their picks in this year's version of the draft, by that point, we'll have plenty of players that the Bills may be interested in.
With a heavy emphasis on the run game, it's only natural to start with running backs:
- Yeldon is an incredibly patient runner that uses his above average vision to his advantage throughout his time on the field. A very successful runner for Alabama, it works both in his favor and against it. The talent level at Alabama, specifically up front, is top notch which gives him quite a bit of room to run against most opponents. That could cause a natural inflation, but, Yeldon shows enough balance and quickness to put the argument against him to bed. He can stand to add some weight and isn't the most powerful player, but has starting potential in the NFL.
Doug Marrone started off 2015 with a bang for the Buffalo Bills. When he opted out as head coach of the team, he did so with $4 million in hand and a handful of head coaching jobs to audition for.
Now that all the head coaching positions have dried up, Marrone had to settle for a job that is close to his heart. According to multiple reports, the former Bills head coach has been hired as the offensive line coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In addition to his responsibilities, he was also given the title of "assistant head coach" to the team's main head coach, Gus Bradley. Marrone interviewed for the offensive coordinator position in Jacksonville last week.
Since his departure, the Bills hired Rex Ryan as the new head coach of the organization. The Bills and Jaguars play each other in 2015 as part of the NFL's series in London. The game is scheduled for October 25 at Wembley Stadium.
Only two teams remain in the National Football League, which leaves the other 30 to stew and think about how to better their teams in the 2015 offseason. One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is the NFL Draft, and like every year the official deadline for college football underclassmen to declare for the selection process has passed.
All players that are at least three years removed from high school are eligibile to declare for the draft. A total of 84 players will be heading to the NFL, and the league released the official list on Monday:
Brett Hundley, UCLA
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Jay Ajayi, Boise State
Javorius Allen, USC
B.J. Catalon, TCU
Tevin Coleman, Indiana
Mike Davis, South Carolina
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Dee Hart, Colorado State
Braylon Heard, Kentucky
Duke Johnson, Miami (FL)
Matt Jones, Florida
Josh Robinson, Mississippi State
Trey Williams, Texas A&M
T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Nelson Agholor, USC
Sammie Coates, Auburn
Amari Cooper, Alabama
DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame
Stefon Diggs, Maryland
Zach D'Orazio, Akron
George Farmer, USC
Devin Funchess, Michigan
Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma
Deontay Greenberry, Houston
Chris Harper, California
Nigel King, Kansas
Breshad Perriman, Central Florida
Jaquel Pitts, Trinity International
Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Tacoi Sumler, Appalachian State
Jesse James, Penn State
Tyler Kroft, Rutgers
Jean Sifrin, Massachusetts
Maxx Williams, Minnesota
Ereck Flowers, Miami (FL)
D.J. Humphries, Florida
Patrick Miller, Auburn
Andrus Peat, Stanford
Jeremia Poutasi, Utah
Donovan Smith, Penn State
Tyler Moore, Florida
Arik Armstead, Oregon
Deion Barnes, Penn State
Mario Edwards, Florida State
Dante Fowler, Florida
Randy Gregory, Nebraska
Eli Harold, Virginia
Danielle Hunter, LSU
Shane Ray, Missouri
Leonard Williams, USC
Malcom Brown, Texas
Xavier Cooper, Washington State
Christian Covington, Rice
Eddie Goldman, Florida State
David Irving, Iowa State
Ellis McCarthy, UCLA
Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Southern Mississippi
Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma
Darius Philon, Arkansas
Kwon Alexander, LSU
Max Flores, Northern Colorado
Bernardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
Darien Rankin, North Carolina
Shaq Thompson, Washington
Max Valles, Virginia
Jalen Collins, LSU
Landon Collins, Alabama
Ronald Darby, Florida State
Lorenzo Doss, Tulane
Durell Eskridge, Syracuse
Charles Gaines, Louisville
Jacoby Glenn, Central Florida
Chris Hackett, TCU
Gerod Holliman, Louisville
Marcus Peters, Washington
James Sample, Louisville
Trae Waynes, Michigan State
P.J. Williams, Florida State
The dust has settled on the coaching search and the Buffalo Bills have yielded one of the most popular names in head coaching circles. Rex Ryan is officially the man in charge at One Bills Drive, and he brought a former hot name for head coach openings after the 2013 season as the offensive coordinator.
Much in the same way that Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz had total autonomy with the defense under the head coaching reign of Doug Marrone, Greg Roman will get the keys to the offense to do as he sees fit. Ryan and Roman appear to be quite a strong pairing from a philosophical standpoint as well.
Both coaches favor a hard-nosed approach, but do so in creative ways. Whether it be with Ryan's blitzing schemes or Roman's differing formations, the two strive to keep the opposite side of the ball guessing at what's about to come at them. Predictability is the common enemy, as it should be throughout the NFL.
Before any draft picks can be made or unrestricted free agents can be signed, the first order of business for the Bills will be with their own expiring contracts.
Among the main names, who would fit the current coaching staff as constructed? An individualized look at that exact question:
DE Jerry Hughes
- Reports have surfaced that the Bills have opened up contract talks with pass rusher Jerry Hughes, which is a smart place to start. He should be the team's top priority, considering both his production over the last two seasons and his upside to get even better than he has been. With a new coaching staff, the two main questions to raise are this: First, what will his role be in Rex Ryan's defense? With the answer to the first question in mind, how much should the Bills commit to Hughes for that role and with so much money locked into the defensive line already? With Ryan, Hughes' role will likely be a more enhanced version of what we saw from him in 2013. The Bills will likely be a multiple front, and now that Hughes has proven himself against the run,his playing time would stay about the same. He'll need to work on coverage, but Hughes is a fit for both schemes. If the money is right, the Bills should not hesitate.
HB C.J. Spiller
- To relate it to normal life, C.J. Spiller is thought of by many as the classic 'what if' significant other from your past. Signs of potential were seen throughout the relationship between the Bills and Spiller, which led some to think he could have a greater impact than what he had. The reality of the matter is this: Spiller is exactly what we've come to know him as. For as many years as he's been in the league, 2012 is the anomaly. He hasn't proven to be an every down back in his time in the NFL, but likely wants to get paid like one. Greg Roman prefers running backs with a north-south, punch you in the mouth type of running style. That is the antithesis of C.J. Spiller, who lacks the vision of a true north-south runner. It would be hard to anticipate Spiller getting a substantial contract to come back to the Bills.
G/T Erik Pears
- Even after a poor 2013 season, three offensive linemen drafted and one added in free agency in 2014, Erik Pears was able to defy the odds and secure a starting position on the line for the entirety of the season. During the past year, Pears was not playing at a level that was starting caliber despite being on the field every snap. In his schemes, Greg Roman prefers lineman that have both movement abilities and a mean streak. Unfortunately for Pears, that description —specifically with the 'movement' part of it — does not bode well for him. Unless he's re-signed to give some competition as a fringe offensive lineman, the Bills are likely to move on.
LB Brandon Spikes
- Spikes showed his abilities against the run several times, but teams limited the Bills to just how much they could use the middle linebacker. A liability in coverage, when teams went with formations that had more players on the field that were smaller, Buffalo had no choice but to call Spikes off the field. He was on the sidelines for over 50-percent of games quite often, leading to a question of if his production was worth the price tag. There is little doubt that his personality is a perfect fit for Rex Ryan. However, do his skills translate, and will there be a big enough role for Spikes with three above average and young linebackers already on the roster? There may not be enough motivation from both sides to get something done.
S Da'Norris Searcy
- In his first full season of starting, Searcy more than proved his abilities to be a competent starting option alongside Aaron Williams. Over his first four seasons, the safety has gotten quite comfortable at playing both positions and providing the versatility that the coaching staffs of that time required from the position. The good news for Searcy is that Rex Ryan is of the same mindset. With his production, upside and versatility, the safety re-signing with the Bills makes almost too much sense.
TE Lee Smith
- Most are yearning for the Bills to infuse the tight end position with athleticism and playmaking ability. It's true, the Bills need to do exactly that, and Lee Smith represents the exact opposite of that breed of tight end. However, Smith re-signing with the Bills makes sense as long as his role is limited. Rex Ryan and Greg Roman both preached having tough, bullying offensive linemen to help the ground-and-pound game. Smith is that type of player. Now, should the Bills work to find a more athletic version of Lee Smith that can help in the passing game? They better. However, re-signing Smith to a one-year deal is relatively harmless. He fits the mentality of the new coaching staff.
WR Marcus Easley
- His days of working himself into the offensive rotation are likely gone, but Easley has carved himself into a core special teams player over the past two seasons. With Danny Crossman still signed on as the special teams coordinator, he will likely pound the table for the Bills to re-sign Easley.
DE Jarius Wynn
- An underrated member of the Bills defensive line in 2014, Wynn was a plus-player for the team in his first season. While he didn't provide the pass rushing prowess that Hughes or Mario Williams did, Wynn was able to hold the fort and make plays against the run when he was healthy. A bigger style of defensive end, Wynn can also provide some versatility for a defense that features multiple fronts. With Rex Ryan likely employing that strategy, Wynn might be a good person to keep around for the transition of it.
Other unrestricted free agents not mentioned: KR/PR Marcus Thigpen, LB Stevenson Sylvester, ST Larry Dean
It's amazing to think sometimes what can happen in a matter of two weeks.
Circle back to December 29, 2014. The Buffalo Bills had just finished up the regular season, Doug Marrone was still the head coach and was fielding the media's questions at the season-ending press conference in a cocksure manner.
Then, in a stamp of approval to mark 2014 as the most unique year in the history of the franchise, Marrone opted out of his contract two days later to leave the Bills without a head coach heading into the new year. Those in search of a fresh start for the franchise under the watchful eyes of new owners Terry and Kim Pegula were undoubtedly gleeful of Marrone's decision.
Marrone's decision and what it forced the Bills to do paralleled the resolutions vowed by millions across the country for self-betterment with the start of 2015. Except, unlike many that make those promises to themselves, the Bills came through. It's a new year, a new head coach was needed and the new owners struck with a hire that hasn't been seen in these parts many times before.
Rex Ryan is the new man in charge at One Bills Drive, and with him come the expectations that the organization will be a winner sooner rather than later.
Ryan has the reputation, whether warranted or not, of a top tier coach in the National Football League. One can't ignore his first two seasons that resulted in two berths into the AFC Championship game, nor can they ignore that he hasn't had a winning season since 2010.
With Ryan, though, the perception of the hire is different. The new Bills head coach carries with him a larger-than-life personality — a rock star of a head coach.
Going from Marrone, who grew increasingly less personable in press conference settings as time wore on, the Bills now have a true ambassador for the organization in the head coach. That point can't be underestimated, either. The head coach, in most cases, is the front door of the organization that speaks and represents the team more than anyone else.
All of that leads to one conclusion that can't be ignored:
With the first move of their reign as owners of the Bills, the Pegulas brought on instant credibility with the hiring of Rex Ryan.
No one knew quite to expect in a coaching search that yielded a dozen interviews and candidates since the start of the new year. Would the Bills go with an unproven commodity? Would the hiring reputation of old come in to play, making the job with the team less desirable despite the talent on the roster?
The answer, with every degree of certainty, is truly and unequivocally no.
The Bills went out and found a coach that was wanted by two NFC teams — San Francisco and Atlanta — that are seemingly on the doorstep of making a run in the playoffs. Perhaps that's as good of a sign as any that the 'same old Bills' mantra may be on its way out the door for good.
Ryan saw the talent amassed on the Bills roster, the amount of a commitment the Pegulas were willing to give him and decided that it was the right fit for him — even beyond two destinations that had a much more settled quarterback situation.
The new Bills head coach will be charged with doing the one thing that evaded him in his time with the New York Jets. Ryan must find a quarterback capable of bringing the offense to the next level. There is little doubt that the defense will flourish under Ryan's tutelage, but finding the right coaching staff and players to fill the roster on offense will be the ultimate challenge.
All of the personnel decisions and on-the-field predicaments are to come, but for the here and now, one thing is evident with the hiring of Rex Ryan:
With the first substantial hire made by the Bills organization under the Pegulas, they signaled to the rest of the NFL that they were not to be taken lightly.
Will the Ryan hire work out? We'll find out in due time. That's not important — at least not at this moment.
The fact of the matter is that this was a statement hire. As much as the Bills wanted to tout Doug Marrone as being a heavily wanted entity when they hired him, he didn't bring half the clout that Ryan brings just by stepping through the doors in Orchard Park.
After being spurned by Marrone and Bill Polian within days, it's clear the Bills weren't messing around in the search for a new head coach. They identified Ryan as the guy and they got what they wanted.
If that's the tone that has been set by the Pegulas with this hire, things really are changing at One Bills Drive — and for the better.
ESPN'S Adam Schefter tweeted this morning that former New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan is expected to become the next coach of the Buffalo Bills.
Schefter also reported that former San Francisco 49ers OC Greg Roman could be the Bills new offensive playcaller. Various reports also indicate that formers Jets DC Dennis Thurman is coming to Buffalo, but there is no update on the status of current DC Jim Schwartz.
The Bills held a second interview with Ryan in Florida last night. Ryan was the only candidates to attain a second interview with Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, general manager Doug Whaley and president Russ Brandon. According to a source, the interest between the two parties was mutual.
Ryan was the head coach of the Jets for the past six seasons, accruing a career record of 50-52.
In addition to Ryan, the Bills previously interviewed Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, San Diego offensive coordinator Frank Reich, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, former Denver and Washington head coach Mike Shanahan, current Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, former Cleveland offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Philadelphia offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Keep checking back for more details as they become available.
The Buffalo Bills have been fast at work trying to identify a new head coach to replace Doug Marrone. With the latest news, they'll need to look elsewhere to find a new running backs coach as well.
According to Sam Webb of Scout.com, Tyrone Wheatley has left the Bills to take the same position under Jim Harbaugh and the University of Michigan. Wheatley attended Michigan before becoming a first-round pick in the 1995 NFL Draft and will now return home to his alma mater in a coaching role.
Before taking the position with Michigan, Wheatley had been an assistant for Doug Marrone dating back to the coach's tenure at Syracuse University. Wheatley initially signed on with the Orange in 2010 and then made the move to the NFL when Marrone was hired by the Bills.
He was in charge of the running backs for each of the last two years. Still under contract with the Bills, Wheatley did not need permission to move to a college. He would have only needed to get released from his contract if he was trying to make a lateral move in the NFL. Wheatley is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
The search for the next Buffalo Bills head coach is at its peak and the decision makers of the organization have met with and will be meeting with more candidates as the week goes on. The Bills have requested interviews with over a dozen candidates already.
A full list of who they have met with and who is still on the schedule:
Interviewed with the Bills already
Adam Gase - Offensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos Frank Reich - Offensive Coordinator, San Diego Chargers Darrell Bevell - Offensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks Dan Quinn - Defensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks Mike Shanahan - Former Head Coach, LA Raiders, Denver & Washington Pat Shurmur - Offensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles (Buffalo News) Jim Schwartz - Defensive Coordinator, Buffalo Bills (Buffalo News)
Hue Jackson - Offensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals -- Wednesday (Buffalo News) Kyle Shanahan - Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns -- Thursday (Buffalo News) Rex Ryan- Former Head Coach, New York Jets -- Thursday (NFL Network) Greg Roman - Offensive Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers -- Friday (NFL Network) Teryl Austin - Defensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions -- Saturday (Buffalo News)
Interviews Requested, but not yet scheduled Pep Hamilton - Offensive Coordinator, Indianapolis Colts Josh McDaniels - Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots
Since the start of 2015 the Buffalo Bills have been fast at work to find a new head coach for the franchise. Outside of one conversation with Mike Shanahan, most of the interviews had to this point have been with various coordinators around the National Football League.
That is, until an interview with one of the biggest names of a former head coach was reportedly scheduled. According to Kimberly Jones of NFL.com, the Bills and former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will discuss the head coaching vacancy in Buffalo in an interview on Thursday.
Ryan had previously met with both the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons, and will now meet and speak with Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, general manager Doug Whaley and president Russ Brandon. The former Jets head coach amassed a 46-50 record over six seasons, making it to the AFC Championship game in each of his first two seasons.
Ryan is one of 12 reported interviews the Bills have conducted or have planned to conduct.
Since Doug Marrone opted out of his contract one week ago, the Buffalo Bills have been quite busy with both interviewing and requesting interviews of assistant coaches throughout the NFL. They have a head coaching vacancy to fill and the Bills' new owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, are still less than four total months on the job.
Some have made a joke of the volume of coaches the Pegulas are reaching out to talk to. However, with them being so new to the business it makes a lot of sense to build connections and a rapport with some people around the league like the 14 men they've already identified.
In fact, they might even want to broaden their search more. Last time the Bills needed a head coach, it was said to be an exhaustive search that yielded Marrone within one week of Chan Gailey being fired. This time, it seems as though the Pegulas are really attempting to turn over every stone in the hope that they'll unearth a gem.
If the Pegulas reach out to more than just the 14 names that have been identified already, perhaps they may want to contact these five names that have some intriguing skills and backgrounds:
Current Job: Offensive Coordinator -- New York Giants
Experience: The Giants offensive coordinator was named to the position in 2014, his first crack at calling an offense in the NFL. Before that, McAdoo spent the previous eight seasons in various roles on the offensive staff for the Green Bay Packers, who have been one of the most potent offenses in all the league. In his final two seasons, McAdoo was the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay.
Why He Should Be Considered:McAdoo spent his first season as an offensive coordinator in the NFL in 2014 helping an aging Eli Manning revive his career. Plagued by turnovers in 2013, Manning turned a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 18:27 into a much improved 30:18 in 2014. Manning also threw for the second-most passing yards in his career in 2014. McAdoo did a lot with average quarterback play, and featured Odell Beckham, Jr. the way that Sammy Watkins should have been this past season. If the Bills are looking for an innovator, McAdoo should be considered.
Current Job: Defensive Coordinator -- Carolina Panthers
Experience: McDermott has slowly risen up the ranks since first entering the league as a 25-year old scouting coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles. He stayed with Andy Reid, being promoted to an assistant to the head coach in 2001, defensive quality control in 2002, assistant defensive backs coach in 2004, secondary coach in 2007, linebackers coach in 2008 and then to defensive coordinator in 2009. He was let go after the 2010 season, but then hooked on with the Carolina Panthers as defensive coordinator in 2011 and has been there since.
Why He Should Be Considered: If the Bills choose to go the defensive route, although young, McDermott is rife with experience in the league as the man in charge of a defense. In his time at Carolina, he has worked with a lack of talent at times and has kept Carolina competitive through it all. McDermott was mentored by the late Jim Johnson, and earned the reputation as an aggressive blitzer as the man calling the plays. He has been thought of as an up-and-comer for quite some time.
Current Job: Special Teams Coordinator -- Kansas City Chiefs
Experience: Toub has been a special teams coordinator in the NFL since 2001 when Andy Reid hired him to his staff. He has spent 14 seasons in the same job but in different spots along the way. His initial three seasons was with Reid before being hired by Lovie Smith and the Chicago Bears in 2004. Toub stayed in Chicago through 2012 and then reunited with Reid in Kansas City in 2013.
Why He Should Be Considered: Since then in Philadephia, Chicago and Kansas City, Toub has been one of the best at his job -- and the statistics are there to prove it. In 14 seasons as a special teams coordinator, Toub's unit has been ranked number one four times according to Football Outsiders' advanced statistical look. They've been ranked in the top three on eight separate occasions in 14 years. Toub's special teams units have been in the top five in 11 of his 14 seasons, and in the top 10 in 13 of those years. Basically, Toub has been able to consistently produce results in a high turnover position. And if you're scared off by the idea of a special teams coach as a head coach, don't be. He interviewed for the head coaching job in Chicago in 2013, and, current Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was a long time special teams coordinator as well.
Current Job: Offensive Coordinator -- Buffalo Bills
Experience: The son of former Pittsburgh and USC head coach Paul Hackett, Nathaniel has spent each of the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator for former Bills head coach Doug Marrone. Before that, Hackett served as the offensive coordinator at Syracuse University in 2012, and originally had a stint in the NFL as an offensive quality control coach with both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006 to 2007) and Bills (2008 to 2009).
Why He Should Be Considered: The Bills offense in 2014 was not great with Kyle Orton and EJ Manuel at the helm. However, there is reason to believe the way Hackett preferred to run things had been curtailed by the wishes of then head coach Doug Marrone. For starters, the comments from running back and team captain Fred Jackson:
"I could definitely see him not getting to do some of the things that he wanted to. I had some conversations with him and it wasn't always at times what he wanted to get done," Jackson revealed. "He was an aggressive guy and has always been since I've known him. When some of the things were called that didn't kind of fit his mold... that is what it is. He couldn't do what he wanted to, but knowing Nate, Nate's a guy that likes to go big or go home. Some of the stuff that he wanted to call we didn't get called in a game... I don't know if that was always his call."
Hackett has been thought of as a bright mind and a rising star before he even got to Buffalo, and his fast-paced approach from 2012 (Syracuse) and 2013 (Buffalo) would likely be the way he would run things. If Jackson's quotes are to be believed, Hackett's aggressive approach to the game is one that fans are clammoring for, and, he already has a wealth of knowledge on the team's offensive personnel. It may be a bit too big of a jump right now based on last year's results, but Hackett should at the very least get a conversation with his current employers.
Current Job: Defensive Coordinator -- New England Patriots
Experience: Patricia has risen through the ranks and has been a Bill Belichick disciple since entering the league as a coach in 2004. He started on the offensive side of the ball, helping as an assistant until being elevated to assistant offensive line coach in 2005. Just a year later, Patricia made the jump to the defensive side of the ball as the linebackers coach in 2006. He spent five years with that group before becoming the safeties coach in 2011, before ultimately being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012.
Why He Should Be Considered: The Patriots have overcome poor talent on the defensive side of the ball in recent years and have performed admirably when the team was in the midst of a push towards the postseason. Patricia is a young coach with fresh principles that could help the defense continue on their current path, while having an offensive background to know whom to trust with the keys to that side of the ball. Clearly a favorite of Belichick's, Patricia will soon be next in line from the coaching tree to take over a head coaching job somewhere.
The Buffalo Bills spent the weekend out west interviewing potential candidates for the head coaching vacancy. They reportedly met with San Diego offensive coordinator Frank Reich, Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and also Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
All four are considered to be up for the job, but there are other names the Bills are reportedly considering. One of which is even a man that spent 2014 inside One Bills Drive: defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
Schwartz took a good defense from 2013 and molded them into one of the top defenses in the National Football League in just his first year on the job. In his first job since being released as the Detroit Lions head coach, he engineered a Bills defense to be top five in least points allowed, least yards allowed and least passing yards allowed.
It wasn't just the defensive players that he impressed, either. Even running back Fred Jackson came away with a great impression of the defensive coordinator and went as far to endorse him for the current head coaching vacancy for the Bills.
"Schwartz I love. He's a great dude," Jackson told WGR Sports Radio 550 on Monday. "I've heard nothing but good things coming from Detroit when he got out here. Then him being on the coaching staff last year, I got a chance to get close to him and know him. I think he would do an excellent job."
The team captain continued:
"They may reach out to some players, and if they do, they're going to hear nothing but great things from Schwartz. He did a tremendous job with our defense last year. He did a great job when he was in Detroit. He's a great candidate, and I know guys in that locker room will play hard for him just because we've been around him, we've grown to respect him and you've seen what he did with our defense last year. He'll get guys ready and motivated to play."
Schwartz wasn't the only coordinator Jackson stumped for on Monday. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett took a lot of criticism from both the media and the fan base for the overall lack of offensive efficiency, but some have pointed out that Hackett may have been held back.
The running back implied that those suspicions were warranted.
"I could definitely see him not getting to do some of the things that he wanted to. I had some conversations with him and it wasn't always at times what he wanted to get done," Jackson revealed. "He was an aggressive guy and has always been since I've known him. When some of the things were called that didn't kind of fit his mold... that is what it is. He couldn't do what he wanted to, but knowing Nate, Nate's a guy that likes to go big or go home. Some of the stuff that he wanted to call we didn't get called in a game... I don't know if that was always his call."
Despite former head coach Doug Marrone opting out of his contract, both Schwartz and Hackett are currently under contract with the Bills.
The dust is beginning to settle from Doug Marrone's scamper out of Buffalo, but there hasn't been a lot of extended commentary from Buffalo Bills players on the former head coach's departure. That was, until Monday when team captain and running back Fred Jackson made his first public statements since Marrone opted out of Buffalo.
"Anytime you get a text message saying that it's happening, you feel like you got punched in the stomach," Jackson told WGR Sports Radio 550 on Monday. "Stuff could have been handled different. We all weren't in the room and understand what went down. But, it's like I said man, what we've got to do as players is not dwell on it and let it be what it is."
The running backs and some of his teammates adopted the strategy to move on now that Marrone had left them behind. The goal, at least by the current players on the roster, is to not give the former head coach any extra time of the day in how they prepare for the 2015 season.
"He's just going to be another guy," Jackson said in regards to Marrone hypothetically landing the head coaching job with the New York Jets. "Obviously we'll want to beat him when we play him, but, it's not going to fuel or motivate us in any different capacity. He's just another guy now. He's not somebody that we're worried about what he's doing, it's going to be about the guys in that locker room focusing on us and what it is we have to get done."
As Marrone continues to interview for other head coaching jobs and the Bills continue their search for someone to replace him, the leaders of the team have kept things in perspective since the start of the new year. Regardless of who coaches the team, it will be on the players to help finally end the 15-year playoff drought.
"For us, we're not gonna dwell on what he decided to do," Jackson remarked. "We're going to try to move on and continue to try to get this thing moving in the right direction. With the ownership and Doug Whaley doing the things that they do, we have all the confidence in them. We'll get this thing fixed."
With the sudden departure of Doug Marrone from the organization, the Buffalo Bills have been fast at work to set up interviews with would-be candidates for the job of head coach. Already having eight names on the requested, the Bills added two more coordinators — as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter — to the list in Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
The franchise is getting its foot in the door around the league with many of the top names said to be up for head coaching jobs this offseason. Who are they, and would they fit with the Bills?
An easy rundown on all 10 the Pegulas have requested an interview with (by order of interviews having been reportedly requested):
Current Job: Offensive Coordinator — San Diego Chargers
Previous Experience: Reich served as offensive coordinator for the first time in his coaching career in 2014. After his playing career ended in 1998, Reich didn't get involved in coaching until 2008 with the Indianapolis Colts. He hooked on with the Chargers in 2013 as the team's quarterbacks coach under head coach Mike McCoy, and when Ken Whisenhunt left to take a head coaching job this year, the Chargers promoted Reich to offensive coordinator.
Why He's Being Considered: Despite Reich's connection with Bill Polian, the Bills remain interested in his services for his work with quarterbacks in his brief coaching career. Reich also has deep ties with the organization, serving as a quarterback for the team from 1985 to 1994. While Reich would be a nostalgic pick for the franchise, he also has received interest from other teams with coaching vacancies — most notably the New York Jets. According to Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com, the interest is said to be high from the Bills.
Current Job: Offensive Coordinator — Denver Broncos
Previous Experience: The past two seasons have been the only coordinator experience for Gase. His NFL career started in 2003 as a scouting assistant for the Detroit Lions. He moved up to quarterbacks coach in Detroit by 2007, spent one season in San Francisco, and then landed with Denver as the wide receivers coach in 2009. He was named quarterbacks coach in 2011, and then promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013.
Why He's Being Considered: Gase has worked with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning in both seasons as a coordinator, but the young mind has received the stamp of approval from the quarterback for any teams in need of a head coach. The Broncos ranked fourth in the NFL in total offense (402.9 yards per game) and second in points scored (30.1 points per game). Gase is considered to be one of the most up-and-coming coaches available.
Current Job: Defensive Coordinator — Seattle Seahawks
Previous Experience: Quinn first entered the NFL as a coach in 2001 and held the defensive line coach position at various locations (San Francisco, Miami, New York Jets, Seattle) through 2010. After 10 years in the NFL, Quinn bolted to run the defense for the University of Florida in 2011. He held the position for two years before getting hired by Pete Carroll to replace Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator of the Seahawks. In two seasons, Seattle has had one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Why He's Being Considered: The strength of the Bills is defense, and with the amount of pressure they generate, Quinn would feel right at home with how much success and pressure Seattle puts on their opponents. While he lacks in coaching experience on the offensive side of the ball, Quinn would be able to continue to drive the strength of a talented defensive roster. Quinn is interviewing with most the teams that have a head coaching vacancy.
Current Job: Offensive Coordinator — Seattle Seahawks
Previous Experience: Bevell started off in the NFL in Green Bay in 2000, rising up to become quarterbacks coach in 2003 and through 2005. From there, he was given his first chance to run an offense and Bevell hasn't relinquished the role since. The Minnesota Vikings hired Bevell in 2006 and kept him through 2010. The following year, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll hired Bevell as the offensive coordinator and he has hung on to the job since.
Why He's Being Considered: Known mostly for its defense, the Seattle Seahawks have quietly become a top 10 offense in the NFL and averaged a league-best 172.6 rushing yards per game in 2014. Bevell has helped the young Russell Wilson rise from a rookie quarterback to one of the better starting options in the league. Without a settled quarterback situation, the Bills may have to turn back to EJ Manuel in 2015, to which Bevell could help with the young player's development.
Current Job: Defensive Coordinator — Buffalo Bills
Previous Experience: Schwartz went back to calling a defense in 2014 for the Bills, but before that served as the head coach for the Detroit Lions from 2009 to 2013. He amassed a 29-52 record in five years with one trip to the postseason. Before his time in Detroit, Schwartz served as the defensive coordinator for Tennessee for eight seasons.
Why He's Being Considered: Schwartz has the advantage of knowing the people inside the building and the defensive personnel — which is the strength of the team — like the back of his hand. The Bills reportedly blocked a request made by the Washington Redskins to interview Schwartz to be their defensive coordinator, which means Buffalo is serious about interviewing him for the head coaching vacancy. At the very least, they'd want to keep their options open.
Current Job: Offensive Coordinator — New England Patriots
Previous Experience: McDaniels entered the league as a wide-eyed 24-year old with the New England Patriots and served as a personnel assistant. It took him only five years to rise up to be the offensive coordinator of the team in 2006, and then was given his first head coaching job in 2009 at the age of 33 with the Denver Broncos. That experiment lasted only two seasons with a record of 11-17, and then McDaniels eventually found himself back in New England as the offensive coordinator.
Why He's Being Considered: McDaniels knows offense, and the Bills haven't had much of an offense for the past two seasons. Despite his failed tenure with the Broncos, McDaniels is still highly regarded as an up-and-coming coach. It doesn't appear, though, that McDaniels will interview with the Bills. According to Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com, McDaniels isn't likely to speak with the Pegulas, GM Doug Whaley and president Russ Brandon.
Current Job: None
Previous Experience: Shanahan had a successful tenure as head coach with the Denver Broncos from 1995 through 2008, winning the Super Bowl twice in 1998 and 1999. He returned to coaching in 2010 with the Washington Redskins, but left the team after having a losing record in three of his four seasons as head coach. For his career, Shanahan has a 170-138 record, and is 8-6 in the postseason.
Why He's Being Considered: Two words: championship experience. None of the other nine candidates on the list have extensive experience as a head coach of a team, which is why Shanahan's name continues to circulate despite a 24-40 record in Washington. He also has extensive experience as an offensive coordinator, which lends itself to the inherent weakness of the current Bills roster. Reports indicate that Shanahan is a favorite of president Russ Brandon.
Current Job: Offensive Coordinator — Indianapolis Colts
Previous Experience: Hamilton was named the offensive coordinator for the Colts in 2013 and it marked the first time he had risen to that role in the NFL during his coaching career. He was hired by the Colts after serving as Stanford's offensive coordinator for two seasons. Hamilton played quarterback in college at Howard University from 1993 to 1996.
Why He's Being Considered: From a source to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport: "I promise he'll impress any owner. He's a machine. It's a matter of time before he's a HC." Despite average offensive line play, Hamilton helped engineer a unit that ranked first in passing yards (305.9 per game), third in total yards (406.6 per game) and sixth in total points (28.6 per game). Hamilton's experience isn't extensive by any means, but his potential as a coach makes him an intriguing candidate.
Current Job: Offensive Coordinator — Cincinnati Bengals
Previous Experience: An offensive coordinator for four teams over the past 11 seasons (Washington 2003, Atlanta 2007, Oakland 2010 and now Cincinnati), served as Oakland's head coach in 2011 and helped the Raiders to an 8-8 record. He was let go by the team's new GM the following year.
Why He's Considered: Lauded for his creativity on the offensive side of the ball, Jackson has quickly climbed the ranks in Cincinnati after being jettisoned from the new regime of the Oakland Raiders after the 2011 season. Jackson's ability to routinely work with average quarterback play and still to create an offensive potent attack would be welcomed in Buffalo, with the offense struggling for much of 2014.
Current Job: Defensive Coordinator — Detroit Lions
Previous Experience: A long-time defensive backs coach, Austin received his first chance to call the shots on defense in Detroit this past season and turned them into a top unit. Before landing in Detroit, Austin was a defensive backs coach for Seattle (2003 to 2006), Arizona (2007 to 2009) and Baltimore (2011 to 2013). He also served as defensive coordinator for the University of Florida in 2010.
Why He's Being Considered: The Detroit Lions are structured on defense much like the Bills are. They have a solid defensive line, above average linebackers and young defensive backs with potential to be very good. Austin helped the Lions become the best rush defense in the NFL (69.3 yards per game), second in total defense (300.9 yards per game) and third in points allowed (17.6) per game. Austin, however, has no experience coaching offense.
The impromptu search for a head coach is on for the Buffalo Bills, and now they have a man to lead the charge.
According to both Tim Graham of The Buffalo News and John Wawrow of The Associated Press, the Bills will make general manager Doug Whaley the man in charge of the search for a new head coach. Whaley, heading into his second full year as GM of the team, will be a part of the team to land a head coach along with owners Terry and Kim Pegula, while Team President Russ Brandon will serve in an advisory role.
Two candidate interviews have been identified as well. Both Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase and San Diego offensive coordinator Frank Reich will meet with the Bills over the weekend about the vacancy, according to reports.
According to multiple reports, the Bills have reached out and requested to interview three other coaches presently on the bye week. New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are all on the list for the Bills as potential candidates.
The Bills have also been reportedly linked to former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan for their vacancy.
Keep checking back for more as it becomes available.
After three days of the offseason, the Buffalo Bills found themselves without their starting quarterback, without their head coach, and now, according to one report, without the man expected to oversee football operations.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter reported Thursday afternoon that Bill Polian, the former general manager of the Bills in the early 90s, informed the franchise that he would not be joining them in any role for the 2015 season. Instead, Polian will remain as an analyst with ESPN.
The news comes just a day after Doug Marrone opted out of his contract with the organization and became a free agent. Marrone, according to Adam Silver of NFL.com, was part of the reason Polian had thought about taking the job with the Bills.
Since Marrone is no longer Buffalo's head coach, Polian removed himself from the equation. The Bills are left with GM Doug Whaley and his front office staff, with an assistant coaching staff that is currently in limbo with what had transpired with Marrone leaving the franchise.
Keep checking back for any new information as it becomes available.