Coaching staff improves a tick

There's reason to be a little bit excited about the changes in the Bills' coaching staff, but no one is dancing in the frozen streets of Buffalo.


Gregg Williams said it himself, that there is an emphasis on coaching experience among the new hires – NFL coaching experience, even.

The good news is that not a whole lot of that experience came from chronically losing teams at Cincinnati and Arizona. Early on in the process, the candidates all seemed to be from the Bengals (such as Paul Alexander) or Cardinals (George Warhop).

As it stands, the Bills have only Tim Krumrie from Cincy, plus the possibility of Dick LeBeau in some currently undefined capacity. We can accept Krumrie, because when he played for the Bengals they were good – in part because he was a tough-as-nails nose tackle. Players relate to successful former players, and he was one.

However, let's look at the latest additions to the staff, the experienced coaches Williams mentioned.

Offensive line coach Pat Ruel has plenty of college coaching experience, but less time as an NFL O-line coach than Ronnie Vinklarek had before this season.

Linebackers coach Don Blackmon had some quality years as an NFL linebacker. And he and running backs coach Les Steckel each have been coordinators in the league. Steckel has even been a head coach.

Let's look a little closer, though. Blackmon was defensive coordinator for the 2001 Falcons, who couldn't stop a sloth. Steckel was offensive coordinator for the 2000 Bucs, who couldn't move the ball against the '01 Falcons, and that helped keep Tampa Bay out of the Super Bowl until now. There's a reason neither coach was employed in the NFL last season.

Steckel coached with Williams on the Oilers/Titans staff. And, oh yes, Steckel's one year as a head coach was with the 1984 Vikings. They finished 3-13. Sound familiar?

Despite Williams' vaunted list of assistant coaching candidates, he still doesn't seem to have a lot of pull beyond men he worked with for his previous NFL team or back in that corner of Missouri where he went to college.

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