Tag Archives: Buffalo Bills

WTF Buffalo!? Not Even The Rooney Rule Can Protect You From Chan Gailey!

20 Jan

A keen-eyed Chan Gailey sees another opening to pursue. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

What is going on up in Buffalo?  They’ve got an owner who is 112 (which isn’t even that big an exaggeration) and wants to win now allegedly.  They started their coaching search with Mike Shanahan & Bill Cowher.

And today, they ended up with Chan Gailey. 

According to multiple reports, Buffalo’s GM who doesn’t even merit being referred to by name here, wanted someone who had been a head coach before and had offensive expertise.  

Or as I prefer to look at it, he wanted a retread who doesn’t know defense.  Be that as it may or may not be, here’s a list of people off the top of my head who would have been better choices, although admittedly some didn’t meet all of Buffalo’s criteria.

First up, Leslie Fraizer who is  the defensive coordinator of a Viking team that just cracked the NFL’s final four behind his stifling defense.  Apparently, Buffalo could not wait around to let Chan Gailey go somewhere else while Frazier’s team continued to make its way through the playoffs. 

I believe in the Rooney Rule and I believe in it because it’s good for business and good for football.  I’m unclear if Buffalo interviewed Frazier but here’s a clear cut case where the Rooney Rule could have helped Buffalo by introducing them to Leslie Frazier. 

(PS – Before Buffalo hired him, Chan Gailey was not going anywhere quick…)

Here’s the rest of my off the cuff list of better choices than Chan Gailey:

Jim Fassel – got a team to a Super Bowl. Gailey’s watched a Super Bowl (on TV).  Ok, I’m kidding.  I think he might have been on the staff of some of those Super Bowl Champ Cowboy teams, before he took over and proved he wasn’t a fantastic NFL coach.

Denny Green – sure looked burned out in Arizona, but did some great things in Minny and so quotable and so better than Gailey

Gregg Williams – New Orleans D – Coordinator & 3 “G” name!

Herman Edwards – he’s been successful overall in the NFL

Jim Mora – had success with Atlanta and rug pulled out in Seattle

Brian Billick – Won a flippin’ Super Bowl and was a Match Game contestant.

I could go on but you get the point…

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Coaching Conspirarcy! Dick Jauron Fired On Same Day NFL Coaching Veteran Frees Himself Up For Duty! (Let’s Draft Jerry!)

18 Nov

The Buffalo Bills are 3-6 and their ancient and so rightfully impatient owner can’t take it anymore.  Today, Dick Jauron got the axe in Buffalo.  Outside of criticizing an in season move, I don’t see how you can debate this one.  Three straight years of mediocrity and a disappointing season in what was supposed to be the break through year will get you fired.

The Bills ponied up the dough and the guts to sign Terrell Owens to give Jauron some ammo on offense.  For a lot of reasons, it hasn’t worked. 

At all.

However, Jauron didn’t help himself by firing his offensive coordinator just before the season started.  Alex Van Pelt, who was promoted into the spot hasn’t gotten things going and so far has made no one in Buffalo forget Turk Schonert.

So, Jauron had to go.  That much was clear.  Who’ll replace him?

Damned if I know.  Jon Gruden just re-upped with ESPN for another two years, so it looks like he’s out, but you never really know.  In the meantime, former Denver Coach For Life Mike Shanahan is available, as is Paul Holmgren and maybe Bill Cowher.

Still, those are all marquee names.  The kind of names that don’t usually end up in Buffalo.  So, figure the Bills to go with either a re-tread or on the rise coordinator.

There is a wildcard out there, though.

And his name is Jerry Glanville.  Turns out the same day as Jauron was axed, Glanville quit what was a disastrous reign Portland State.

Portland State what?  I know.  I had the same reaction.  I thought Jerry Glanville was dead.  And I’m not kidding.

It will never happen.  His recent body of work doesn’t suggest it SHOULD happen.  But, I think the NFL needs Jerry Glanville.  The man was flat out entertaining.  He could coach a little bit too.

If you agree, why not email the Bills.  It couldn’t hurt.

If they’re gonna be bad, they might as well be fun.

Keep It In The Family NFL Head Coaches! Which Father & Son Duo Are The Best?

7 Jan

It’s not always a bad or good thing when a child follows in their parent’s footsteps career-wise, but it’s not an uncommon thing.  All over America and for all different reasons, sons and daughters follow their parents into the same profession.  Everywhere that is, except the NFL.

By my unscientific count, there have been exactly four father/son combos that can proudly proclaim that each man had made it to the mountain top and served as an NFL head coach.

The four families (that sounds vaguely like a mob reference, right?) are the Shulas, the Moras, the Nolans and the Phillips.  Each man and each family had a different story and differing rates of success. 

Here’s how Full Contact ranks them on their COMBINED body of work from worst to first:

#4 – THE NOLANS – Dick (Dad) and Mike (Son)

Three Division titles total.  All from Dick’s San Francisco tenure (68-75).  Dick Nolan was about a .500 coach for San Fran, but he did manage to capture 3 straight division crowns.  After that, he had three straight losing seasons and was let go.  Next stop for Dick was New Orleans in 1978, which of course is a death sentence for any coach.  And actually, in context Dick did pretty well, going 7-9 and then 8-8 in his second year (which must have been a minor miracle).  Unfortunately, in Nolan’s third year, the Saints got off to an 0-12 start and Dick Nolan was finished as a head coach.  Interesting side note, Nolan was a master of the tie game.  During his eight years in SF, his teams tied FIVE times.  Tying that much, even Donovan McNabb would know the overtime rules!

Mike Nolan has the unique pleasure of actually having coached the same NFL team as his dad.  Not only that, but Nolan, coached San Francisco in a suit much like the coaches of his dads’ generation did.  Unfortunately for Mike Nolan, his three and a half years with the Niners much more closely resembled his Dad’s last three years in Frisco rather than Dick’s glory days.  Mike finished with nothing but losing records and a .327 winning percentage.  In fairness to Mike Nolan, he is still young and he may yet coach again in the NFL as a top man.  If he does, perhaps he can improve the Nolans standing on this list.

#3 THE PHILLIPS – Bum (Dad) and Wade (Son)

Two Division titles.  One by Bum and one from Wade.  Both coached multiple teams and both sport over .500 records during their combined TWENTY years in the head spot (yes, I know two of those years Wade was a head coach for only a few games on an interim basis).

Bum Phillips was a charismatic character who in the late ’70s built his Houston Oilers into a serious threat to Chuck Noll’s Steeler Dynasty.  The Oilers never quite managed to “kick the door down” as Phillips insisted they would, but they did have good success.  The Oilers won 10 or more games in four of Phillips’ six years in Houston with only one losing season.  In ’78 and ’79, they won two playoff games each year before ultimately being booted from the tournament.  Plus, the Oilers had Earl Campbell and Phillips has to get some points for that alone.  I’ve never enjoyed watching anyone else run as much as Campbell.

Anyway, in ’81, Bum Phillips left Houston after ’80’s 11 win campaign, to take over…  New Orleans.  I think you know how the rest of this story goes.  After two four win seasons, Phillips got the Saints to mediocrity by going 8-8 in ’83 and 7-9 in ’84.  But, it didn’t last.  In ’85, Phillips left with the Saints at 4-8.  He too, like Dick Nolan, never coached in the NFL again after handling the ‘Aints.  It’s a pity cause the guy could coach.  He won at a .611 clip in Houston and still managed to end his career about .500 (82-77) despite coaching the Saints. 

While it took his dad some time to get his first top job, Wade got his first opportunity at a much younger age and it was courtesy of his father.  He went 1-3 in 1985 finishing up for Bum in New Orleans.  Wade’s first real opportunity wouldn’t come around until ’97 in Denver.  A respected coordinator, the move to the top spot was a bit bumpy, but he did manage to go .500 in his two seasons in Denver.  In, ’98, Wade took over in Buffalo and went 10-6.  He followed that up with an 11-5 campaign the next year.  In 2000, he went 8-8 and was gone.  Not a bad run, but he’s probably still most remembered in Buffalo for needlessly pulling a successful Doug Flutie out of the starting QB role come playoff time for Rob Johnson, who flopped.  In ’03, Wade was the interim guy again in Atlanta and went 2-1.  Then, came Dallas and we all know how that’s working out.  His great first regular season (13-3) in ’07 ended in crushing playoff underachievement.  And this past season, the Cowboys who were favored by many to reach the Super Bowl, went 9-7 and didn’t even make the playoffs.  Yet, Jerry Jones still has back.

Our conclusion?  Dad was the real deal, he just shouldn’t have gone to New Orleans.  Wade?  He’s a great coordinator, but no more.  No matter what Jerry Jones thinks…

#2 – THE SHULAS – Don (Dad) and David (Son)

This one was the pick that was toughest for us.  Clearly, by the numbers, the Shulas own this competition.  There’s back to back Super Bowl Championships.  A perfect season.  Several other Super Bowl appearances and about a gazillion wins and division titles.  But remember this was about the best father/son combo.  We’re looking for a father and son team who both could coach.

Don Shula is clearly the most accomplished head coach on this list.  He had success in both his stops – Baltimore and Miami.  He got his first shot at the young age of 33 and made the most of the opportunity to coach the Colts from 1963-69.  He went 11-1 in ’67 and ’68 saw him go 13-1 before losing Super Bowl III to Joe Willie and the Boys.  In Miami, it only got better.  The Fins were AFC Champs three years running from ’71-73 including those two back to back Super Bowl titles.  Shula coached for 33 years, 26 of them with the Dolphins.  He won over 300 games.  Won at a .678 clip for his career (surprisingly he was more successful in Baltimore at .725 versus .659 during his longer stint in Miami).

It’s fair to say that Don Shula’s last ten years in Miami where his most mediocre despite the presence of one Dan Marino.  It’s perhaps even fairer to point out that at the height of his relative mediocrity, three of Shula’s last ten teams won ten or more games.

Speaking of mediocrity, some hate to fall to that level while others curse that they never managed to attain it.  Such is the case with Don’s son David.  Like his father, David Shula got his first coaching job at a really early age.  Unlike his father, David was clearly not ready.  In five years in Cincinnati (92-96), David Shula’s teams went 5-11, 3-13, another 3-13 and then jumped up to 7-9.  In his last year, the Bengals started out 1-6 and that was the final nail in the coffin.  David Shula never got another shot.  My guess is that he never will.  The only defense I can give is that Cincinnati in the early 90s was probably as bad for your coaching career as New Orleans was in the 70s and 80s.

Don Shula is one of the great coaches of all time.  David Shula, well…. He probably got his first shot too young cause of his family name and was also put into an losing situation in Cincy.  No one was going to win in that town with those teams.  But that all taken into consideration, the Shulas must go down as the second best father/son duo.  David simply did not do enough to merit ranking them number one despite all of his father’s achievements.

So who’s # 1?  How about these guys!

#1 THE MORAS – Jim (Dad) and Jim (Son)

Four Division titles.  Jim Mora (the Dad) is probably most remembered for his classic line “playoffs?!  You’re talking about playoffs?!” that is nicely re-purposed for comedic effect in a current beer commercial.  But, Dad Mora could flat out coach.  Sure, he had a tendency to overload himself and implode which resulted in self-inflicted wounds to his career, but the guy was a winner (at least in the regular season).  AND, he won in places where people just didn’t win.

Going through this post, New Orleans has come up several times as a coaches grave yard.  Jim Mora WON in New Orleans.  He did so at a .557 rate no less.  In Mora’s ten plus years with the Saints, his teams routinely made the playoffs.  In fact, by the early ’90s, some viewed the Saints as likely Super Bowl material.  This was astounding stuff.  No one had ever had that much success in the Big Easy.  Mora lead squads won 10 or more games four times between ’87 and ’92.  The Saints were actually a force in the NFL.  After ’92, the Saints got decidedly mediocre until a 2-6 start in ’96 and Mora’s unbalanced reaction got him removed.

In 1998, Jim Mora took over the Colts and went 3-13.  In year two, Indy went 13-3 and won their division.  In 2000, Indy went 10-6.  They followed that up with a 6-10 season and that was it for Mora’s head coaching career.  (Check out the pattern of Mora’s Indy W-L record, it’s oddly dyslexic from year to year:  3-13, 13-3, 10-6, 6-10). He finished up with 125 victories at a .541 winning percentage when you factor in his time in Indy.

Of the sons, Jim Mora is tied with Wade Phillips for the most divison titles: ONE.  Jim Mora (the son) took over the Falcons in 2004, another franchise that destroys good coaches, and surprised everyone by going 11-5 and winning their division.  That’s as good as it got, year two was 8-8, and 2006 was worse at 7-9.  Then, Mora made some noise about other coaching jobs he’d be interested in and Arthur Blank let him go for the very wise choice of Bobby Petrino.  Then, Michael Vick, went to jail and the whole think collapsed.  (Shockingly the Falcons have recovered very quickly from all this).

Anyway, back to Jim Mora the son.  Many people felt he got kind of a raw deal and that he was actually a quality coach.  Apparently, the folks in Seattle felt that way and named him the Seahawks coach in waiting.  Now that Holmgren is gone, we’ll find out what Jim Mora can do in his second stint at the top.  For the sake of the Mora family honor, let’s hope he keeps them at the top of this list…

Hope you enjoyed this post and would LOVE your comments on our rankings!

Coach This! A Chrystal Ball Guide To Who’s Coming & Going!

9 Dec

Perhaps only the Pittsburgh Steelers, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Braves have truly learned the value of continuity.  Every other pro sports franchise these days either can’t find the right guy to hire or doesn’t give that guy enough time and support to really turn things around.

With that volatility in mind, here’s some quick thoughts on various pro coaches, their futures and recent pasts:

Marty Schottenheimer– Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage, the current coach/GM combo for the Cleveland Browns are in a lot of hot water.  One year after their breakthrough 10-6 campaign, the word is one or both of the two are likely goners.  And who’s rumored to take over?  None other than Marty Schottenheimer, who started his long and distinguished regular season career with the original Browns back in the ’80s.

Marty is a winner and has been everywhere he’s been, except for the playoffs.  The Browns may have overachieved last year, but they do have talent.  Wouldn’t it be something to see Marty Schottenheimer bring his career full circle by wrapping things up in Cleveland with the Super Bowl title he’s chased so long?  Stranger things have happened!

Wade Phillips– He’s got to be done now, right?  This past Sunday is a perfect example of Phillips’ head coaching legacy.  Up ten with nine minutes to go and he lets Offensive Coordinator/HC in Waiting Jason Garrett start winding down the clock way too early.  What should have been a huge road win and boon to Dallas’ playoff hopes ends up as another crushing defeat and Dallas will likely miss the playoffs.

Phillips is apparently a great defensive coordinator.  And, if he wants to stay in the NFL, that’s what he’ll be next year.  He’s finished running Jerry Jones’ squad.

Norv Turner – He’s Phillips’ flip side.  Turner is a great offensive coordinator who just can’t get it done as a head coach.  San Diego has way more talent than their record shows.  With Turner at the helm that’s not a surprise.  By now the league has caught on and neither Phillips or Turner will be a head coach anywhere other than in their current jobs.

Dick Jauron–  After starting the season at 5-1, it’s all gone down hill for the Bills.  Based on that strong start, Buffalo extended Jauron’s contract.  What has Buffalo brass got to be thinking about that extension right now? 

I never understood the urgency.  But, maybe it’s cosmic payment for Jauron.  After all, he did a decent job in Chicago and got bagged there kind of unfairly.  (He got screwed over)  So, this could be the way the football gods make it up to him and his family.

PJ Carlesimo– A great college coach, who loves the NBA lifestyle too much to return where he really belongs.  Apparently, he’s a great NBA assistant and was very popular in that role in San Antonio.  Somehow he loses his people skills when he gets that head coach title.  Rule number one in the NBA is don’t alienate your franchise number one draft choice, especially when he’s going for 20 a night in his rookie year.   PJ forgot that.  And now the NBA will forget his name for future coaching openings.

Eddie Jordan– I can’t believe the  Wizards were stupid enough to fire him.  If I were a GM looking for my next NBA head coach, I’d have Jordan’s digits on speed dial.  The guy has won in places that no one wins.  As a player, he led Rutgers to a Final Four.  As an assistant coach, many felt he deserved more credit than Byron Scott for the lowly NJ Nets fortunes turning earlier this millennium.  Leaving Jersey for another perennial loser in DC, Jordan managed to regularly get the Wizards to the playoffs before being dismissed.  Some day, Eddie Jordan will win an NBA title as a head coach.  And that day will come before the Wizards franchise grabs its next title.

Kevin McHale– What a great player and what a horrible GM.  His reign of terror in Minnesota goes on unabated.  There’s no logical explanation for his lasting so long there even if he’s a massive b-ball icon in the state.  It’s bordering on the ridiculousness of Elgin Baylor’s time with the Clips or Mike Millsbury’s time with the NHL’s Islanders.

Now, however, McHale may be close to done.  Ownership fired the ‘Wolves head man and today word came out that McHale will be stepping down from his executive duties to take over as coach for the long term.   Only McHale can save himself now.

Hmmmm….. That move didn’t work out too well for one Isiah Thomas.  To be fair, McHale pulled this stunt once before and manged to go about 19-12.  For the Timberwolves these days, that would be a HUGE improvement.

So what’s the take away?

Everyone finds their level in life and in sports.  Great coordinators or assistants aren’t always great head coaches.  As a GM, it’s your job to know the difference.

If you’re a GM and you’ve got an Eddie Jordan at the helm, then be patient.  But, not so patient that he ends up turning into undeserving lifer like a Kevin McHale.

Are The Pistons Crafting a Brave Legacy?

15 May

At first blush, you might think that the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and MLB’s Atlanta Braves have nothing in common.  You’d, of course, be wrong.

The Pistons and Braves have success in common.  Long term success.  We all know the Braves’ story.  Something like 14 straight division titles.  All they’ve done since the 90s is win, win and win some more.

It might have slipped past you, but that’s all Detroit’s done for this Millennium.  After eliminating Orlando recently, Motown’s Bad Boys earned their (are you sitting for this?) SIXTH straight Eastern Conference Finals appearance.  Sure the East has been down in quality for a while, but you’ve got to give it to Detroit for their consistency and success.  Six straight anything is not an easy thing.

Here’s the catch.  There’s a dark side to this tale of accomplishment.  During Atlanta’s winning run, they made won exactly one World Series.  Think about that.  Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, not to mention the Jones boys added up to exactly one world series title.  Unlike say the Buffalo Bills in the NFL, the Braves actually did break through to win one.  Still, the Braves lack of championships puts a damper on almost twenty straight years of phenomenal regular seasons.

Back to Detroit.  Six straight conference titles later and how many NBA titles do they own?  One.  And after that one, they still couldn’t keep Larry Brown from leaving town.  Detroit needs to step it up title wise or they’ll soon have their legacy tainted by thoughts of what could of been like the Braves.

What are their chances this year?  Who knows? 

They’ll either face LeBron and Co or a Boston team that ripped through the regular season only to struggle on the road during the playoffs.  The Pistons beating either wouldn’t be the greatest upset ever. 

Following that, they’d rep the East against one of this quartet:  New Orleans, Utah, LA or San Antonio.  There’s no easy road here.  Chris Paul is killing everyone he’s been up against.  Utah has the biggest home court advantage in the league.  LA’s got Kobe playing like an MVP, even if Chris Paul should have gotten the trophy.  And, well, San Antonio is the flip side of the Pistons.  They’ve made the most of their playoff runs.

If the Pistons can somehow break through, they’ll have earned the right to no longer be compared to the Braves as well as a proud legacy all of their own.

Me and Maddux are betting against them.