Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)
It’s almost too good to be true. This year, Steve Fairchild has been much maligned for the Buffalo Bills’ offensive production – whether deserved or not – and many fans were calling for his head. Well, they got their wish… in a manner of speaking.
Instead of relying on the ever-faithful, ever-loyal Dick Jauron to make the tough decision of firing the mostly ineffective Fairchild in the offseason and moving on to someone else, the Bills offensive coordinator was wooed by another team to take their head coaching spot. For Bills fans, it couldn’t get any better.
Now that Fairchild has been offered perhaps his dream job – head coach of his college alma mater, Colorado State University – where will the Bills look to fill the vacancy? The Bills are reporting that Fairchild will likely remain with the Bills through the end of the season, and Steve Fairchild has confirmed that himself with a statement released today. But even if he should need to leave before that, they won’t fill the vacancy until after the season is over.
Frustrated Bills fans lament owner (and President) Ralph Wilson’s apparent unwillingness to spend money on coaches, with Buffalo not usually bringing in a top name – and top dollar – head coach, or other coaching staff. The Bills track record would seem to suggest that the Bills will promote from within, or hire a coach with little to no name recognition, but there are some big names out there being tossed around by excited Bills fans.
First, Marty Schottenheimer, the former San Diego head coach and former Buffalo Bills linebacker. He has always been an offensive-minded coach and many have been calling for Levy or Wilson to replace Jauron with Schottenheimer. Personally, I don’t know that Marty would be a good fit as offensive coordinator due to the very reason most fans want to bring him in. His “name recognition” would seem to overshadow Jauron as the head coach. Doesn’t seem to be the best fit.
Another “big name” being bantered around is Steve Mariucci, currently with the NFL Network. Steve was head coach in Detroit, and before that (and more successfully) with San Francisco. Definitely an offensive-minded coach, and would be an interesting choice. However, Mariucci may be waiting for a head coaching opportunity.
Those wishing to promote from within the organization have suggested shuffling around some of the offensive coaches, like Turk Schonert (QB coach) and Alex Van Pelt (offensive quality control). Either have been named (by fans) as possible candidates for the Offensive Coordinator spot. Admittedly I do not know much about Turk Schonert, so I don’t know what his qualifications would be, but as a former QB, and a former Bill… I wouldn’t mind seeing AVP promoted to the OC spot.
Others have thrown out former Buffalo Bills greats like Jim Kelly and James Lofton to take the offensive reins. Lofton is currently the WR coach at San Diego, and has been considered for some head coaching jobs in the NFL recently, including the opening for the Bills prior to Dick Jauron taking over that spot. Jim Kelly was essentially the offensive coordinator during the Bills’ Super Bowl years (calling his own plays on the field), so that selection would make sense – except that Kelly has often said he does not want to coach.
Finally, as we said on the Buffalo Bills Review a few weeks ago, I would like to recommend Rich Gannon. Gannon is currently a color commentator for CBS and just did a fantastic job analyzing the Bills offense and specifically their QB (Losman) during the game in Jacksonville. Gannon played QB for a long time in the NFL and led several very productive offenses. He would be an interesting choice for a “lesser known” coordinator, yet someone from the outside.
What the Bills really need to decide is who can assume the position and move the team forward. Right now, the team is moving forward, and they don’t want to take a step or two back with whoever they hire. Will it be someone from within, to minimize the learning of a new system? Or, since the offense has had an almost record-breaking level of futility this season, would bringing in a new coordinator with a new system actually be the better move to continue moving this team forward?
Whatever the Bills decide, the focus right now needs to remain on the final three games of the season. Starting with the game in Cleveland this week. The Bills are in an excellent position to advance to the post season for the first time since 1999.
It would be a shame to ruin that by thinking about next season’s offensive coordinator.
Fairchild Expected To Stay Through End of Season (BuffaloBills.com)
Bills Assistant Fairchild to Return to CSU as Coach (ESPN)
Statement from Steve Fairchild (BuffaloBills.com)