Let's face it. The Buffalo Bills need an organization-wide overhaul.
Anyone expecting a new head coach to swoop into One Bills Drive, wave a magic wand and resurrect this franchise is foolish. It will take time, take money and take patience. Buffalo needs a true general manager — a judge, jury and executioner.
But first, it all starts with the right coaching hire — a new face of the franchise. One day after the Bills canned Dick Jauron, the good news continued. Buffalo is already in hot pursuit of Mike Shanahan.
Granted, any argument for any coach must be laminated with the obvious "Does he want to come here?" caveat. The next coach isn't walking into a gold mine. Behind Door No. 1 are no legit starting quarterbacks, a so-green-it's-scary offensive line, an annoying/lame-duck diva at wideout and the league's worst run defense.
Then again, Shanahan admits he wants to get back into coaching soon. Maybe he'll jump at any opportunity. After all, you don't pass on McDonalds when it's the only restaurant available along a 50-mile stretch on the interstate. Shanahan may embrace this mess.
Signing a Shanahan-level coach will take two to tango. If owner Ralph Wilson is willing to dump his Montgomery Burns-management style and offer Shanahan a sizeable contract — as his decision to stomach the final $6 million of Jauron's deal suggests he would — than this is realistic.
For this team, at this time, Shanahan is the perfect hire.
The passing offense has ranked 29th, 22nd, 30th, 28th, 29th and 28th the past six years. J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards have rammed the unit into dead ends with frustrating consistency. This week is a low point for Edwards, who will be benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Ouch.
Next off-season, the Bills will almost certainly find a new quarterback to pair with a new head coach. OK, maybe it sounds cliché but hiring Shanahan to pair with a Jake Locker is the starting point everybody wants.
Shanahan's credentials teeter on Canton territory. Two Super Bowl rings, a strong pedigree with quarterbacks and his success with the zone-blocking scheme will command a multi-million contract anywhere. He made average Denver Broncos great, somehow squeezing a 4,000-yard, 27-touchdown season out of Jake Plummer. Shanahan is as close to a sure thing the Bills will find.
Time to fork up the money and steer the franchise in an offensive-oriented direction — far, far away from the blasé ball-control days of Jauron.
It will be easy for Wilson to do what he always does. Locate an average coordinator. Pay him an average contract. Draft average players. Get average results. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
Enough is enough. Entrust the team with a legitimate G.M. Not a marketing guru (Russ Brandon) or a swing-and-miss assistant G.M. (Tom Modrak). Ideally, Wilson takes some smelling salts and hires a general manager. That's the structural problem. The Bills front office is discombobulated. True, giving all power to Tom Donahoe failed a few years back. But the worse mistake was not hiring a real G.M. for the next four years.
First, the Bills must hit a home run with their next head coach. It's encouraging that Wilson is on the prowl this early. He's at least entertaining the thought of signing a big name. That's a start. That's uncharacteristic. Before Jauron, he had never signed a coach to more than $1 million. This time, he must be willing to unload between $5-$8 million for a coach of Shanahan's stature.
In all likelihood, Shanahan will seek complete control as the G.M./head coach. So be it. Give it him. Give him the keys to the city…oh, wait…that didn't pan out. Whatever. Wilson needs to make a hefty investment. No more bargain-bin coaches. This time, he needs to do it right.
Reviving a dormant offense will be the prime objective. The unit is at an all-time low. Buffalo has failed to total 300 yards of offense in seven straight games — the team's longest stretch since 1968. In short, all defensive-minded coaches (sorry, Perry Fewell) should be erased from the search immediately. A college coach (like Stanford's Jim Harbaugh) or pro assistant (like Minnesota's Darrell Bevell) will be intriguing candidates.
For now, though, Wilson must put an all-out blitz for Mike Shanahan. As a great mobster once said, make an offer he can't refuse. The future of the team depends on it.
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