The Bills fired offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard today. In the second half of the season, receivers Eric Moulds and Peerless Price had questioned Buffalo's first-year coordinator about the effectiveness of his offensive system and his game-planning. The receivers didn't like the inconsistent nature in which Sheppard utilized them.


Tom Donahoe said the decision to let Sheppard go was up to Gregg Williams, but he added, "To be honest with you, I wasn't happy with much this year."

That comment from Donahoe seems to be a signal that Williams is under pressure to markedly turn the team around next season. Another 3-13 season, regardless of the players, could spell the end for the Williams regime.

In his defense, Williams was hired as a head coach quite late in the NFL off-season for hiring coaches and he was forced to fill out his staff with many inexperienced people. At that point, most coaches already had their jobs lined up for 2001.

Today Williams said he wanted the offense to go in a different direction, indicating perhaps Buffalo will depart somewhat from the "West Coast" way of doing things, which, interestingly enough, is the offense that Alex Van Pelt prefers to operate.

Williams will likely have to find an offensive coordinator who has many years of experience at the job, rather than bringing in another coach such as Sheppard, who was Seattle's quarterbacks coach prior to joining the Bills, and had never officially been an NFL offensive coordinator.

Kevin Gilbride, who is friends with Williams and coached with him in Houston, may be just the person. Gilbride spent 2001 out of the NFL, after the Steelers fired him in December 2000 following two seasons as their offensive coordinator. Gilbride appeared at the Bills' training camp one day last summer, just observing, which Williams had said at the time was Gilbride's way of maintaining contact with the people and players in the NFL …

As expected, Rob Johnson, John Fina, Ken Irvin, Raion Hill and Avion Black were on the Bills' expansion list. Donahoe said that Johnson's exposure to the Houston Texans "doesn't indicate anything, except that he's on the list." …

A Bills spokesman denied that Travis Henry missed the flight to Miami Jan. 6, as was reported earlier this week on the Shout! web site, saying that Gregg Williams told Henry he was not going to Miami because he would be of no help to the team sitting on the sideline. Also, he denied that Henry had any learning disability. Lastly, he denied that Phil Hansen retired because he was going to be exposed on the expansion list, saying that the Bills only told their players this week who was going to be on the list. Shout! verified the information with its source and stands by the story.

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