With all of the hoopla over the past few days at One Bills Drive, change is certainly afoot for a franchise that many consider to have gone stale. With Chan Gailey bidding Buffalo ado, Russ Brandon taking over football operations as President & Buddy Nix’s tenure as GM officially off of life support (at least temporarily) the next order of business is finding Gailey’s successor.
To this point we’ve all heard the names that have surfaced as potential head coaching candidates: Former Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt interviewed with the team on Tuesday (and is reportedly the “favorite” thus far). Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton fittingly followed his former head coach with his interview yesterday. Broncos Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy has an interview set for sometime this weekend while an interview with Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly has been confirmed, but no date has been set.
Syracuse Head Coach Doug Marrone is another candidate that the Bills have confirmed interest in, while other names like John Gruden & Jay Gruden have been tossed around. However, the name that I have become fixated upon is (as the title implies) former Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith…
It was FINALLY confirmed this morning that the Bills will in fact interview Lovie this weekend for their head coaching vacancy. This is big news because as we all know mutual interest isn’t necessarily a given when it comes to “big name” coaches coming to Buffalo.
I understand there are reasons for & against every single coaching candidate you consider (unless your Chip Kelly who is being anointed the next Vince Lombardi from what I’ve seen) but in my opinion, Lovie Smith is everything the Bills need. He’s the right guy to “change this team’s culture” (as Russ Brandon put it) and to more importantly bring back the expectation of winning to this city.
When the Bills went out and decided to solidify their defense last offseason by handing out over $100 million to Mario Williams and close to another $20 million to Mark Anderson (in addition to the rest of their moves) the goal was not to finish the 2012 season at 6-10 ranked 22nd in the league in overall defense… not even close. With a talented, albeit expensive defense that underperformed the way this group did, a proven leader that can mold defensive talent is in order.
Sure, the offense struggled mightily as well, but many of those issues surface around a lack of a quality QB. By bringing in a strong Offensive Coordinator to work in tandem with Lovie’s defensive prowess many of those issues can be put to rest.
One of the most common arguments against bringing in Lovie that I’ve heard brought up repeatedly since his name was mentioned has been the case against retreading a former Head Coach. A lot of people like the idea of going after a young coordinator that can breathe new life into this franchise, to in essence mirror the new, younger front office regime. While I understand that argument looking at the names mentioned thus far, it’s a rather lackluster list.
If Jay Gruden suddenly becomes interested in talking to the Bills, great. If Chip Kelly wants to leave Oregon and then pass up his other offers to come to Buffalo, by all means be my guest. HOWEVER, being realistic is something as fans we sometimes forget to do during a time of turnover and many of the “better options” end up being unlikely options as well.
If you told me a few days ago before Lovie Smith had been let go by the Bears, that he not only wouldn’t be with Chicago next season, but that Buffalo was a strong possibility of a landing spot in 2013… I probably would’ve laughed in your face (no offense).
In 9 seasons with the Bears, he has a record of 81-63, winning Coach of the Year in 2005, the NFC North division 3 times in 2005, 2006 & 2010 as well as the NFC Championship in 2006. Let us not overlook the old adage that “numbers never lie”.
As I stated earlier, there will be countless ways to poke holes in my argument for Lovie, just as I could I’m sure find a way to do the same with any candidate you prefer, but that’s what makes everyone being entitled to their own opinion so magically delicious. Although, with Mike Ditka reportedly calling Lovie’s firing from Chicago “stupid,” my argument to bring him in is immediately validated…
In the end the Bills have a pool of candidates that bring different levels of talent and experience to the table, so regardless of who you’re pulling for one thing we should all be able to agree upon, is the fact that it’s an apprehensively exciting time to be a Bills fans. Many of us have drank the Kool-Aid one too many times to buy into all this talk without seeing the results on the field… and as well we should. My only hope over the next couple weeks is whoever is named the Bills Head Coach leaves the players the city & the fans excited for the 2013 season… and what better way to go about uniting a team in need of a new leader, than by feeling the Lovie?
Did this post infuse joy into your day or cause your blood to boil with anger? Feel free to agree or disagree with me & let me know whom you would have picked. Find me on Twitter at: @BradleyGelber