As of this moment, the Buffalo Bills search for a new head coach appears to be stuck in neutral. When their search will gain any significant traction is pure guesswork at this juncture.
Let’s begin to dissect what we do know. The Bills tried to court Mike Shanahan. They flirted with Bill Cowher. Neither attempt was a smashing success. How hard they went after both or how serious their pursuit was is debateable, but again we’ll stick to what we know.
It’s clear neither coach viewed Buffalo as a sexy landing destination. Neither man was beating down Ralph Wilson’s door to put pen to paper on a contract. Neither man campaigned publicly to become the next head coach. Both men viewed Buffalo as a no-fly zone. Shanahan ended up in Washington, and it’s likely Cowher will return to broadcasting and take a wait-and-see approach next season when other jobs become avaiable.
Right now, the Bills have done two interviews with Perry Fewell and Leslie Frazier. Fewell became the New York Giants defensive coordinator so we can officially rule him out. Other names floating there include Russ Grimm, Ron Rivera and Brian Schottenheimer.
We know Schottenheimer declined an interview with the Bills, stating he’s thrilled to be in New York and he’s the happiest he’s been in three years with the Jets. Go ahead and cross his father, Marty Schottenheimer, off the list as well. Grimm and Rivera declined interviews at this time to focus on the playoffs, though they could be interviewed once their teams have been eliminated.
Other names we’ve heard include Miami’s Todd Bowles and Philadelphia’s Sean McDermott. Dallas’ Jason Garret is an interesting candidate should the Bills’ main focus be hiring an offensive minded coach. Buffalo has yet to request permission to speak with all three. Garret is in the same boat with Grimm, Rivera and Frazier, and can’t be interviewed or hired until Dallas is no longer in the playoffs.
And then the whole timetable concept is a slippery slope. There are no definite answers regarding when Arizona, Dallas, Minnesota and San Diego will be bounced from the postseason. It could be as early as Monday or it could be as late as February 8 when the Bills could interview or hire one of these four: Grimm, Garret, Frazier or Rivera.
For now, it appears the Bills are in sitting on their hands and playing the wait-and-see game. Frazier seems to be the leading the pack, but when you’re running the race alone and no one’s chasing you, it’s only natural you’re going to be out in front.
If the Bills already have their guy in mind to be the next head coach, that’s great. But while they wait, they should reach out and kick the tires on some other guys. Brian Billick and Jim Fassel come to mind. Because of previous San Diego connections, we’re probably going to hear Cam Cameron’s name mentioned again.
Even if the Bills have no interest whatsoever in hiring Billick, Fassel or Cameron, there’s no harm in gauging their interest. The more interested parties, the better. Let’s face it, I’m sure there are numerous candidates that feel the same way as Shanahan and Cowher. The Bills are rebuilding project and a train wreck at quarterback and on the offensive line. Somebody’s got to be in this thing for the long haul and as it stands now, nobody’s ramming the doors down at One Bills Drive to be the next head coach.
A simple motto to follow: Leave no stone unturned.