Mass firings slam Buffalo

Yes, Buddy Nix will start anew. "Black Monday" has wiped through Western New York as Buffalo's new general manager has reportedly fired his entire coaching staff. A key first step. Nix wants no remnants of the Dick Jauron era. Instant analysis inside...

Maybe Buddy Nix isn't messing around after all.'s Jay Glazer first reported that the Bills' new general manager has fired the entire coaching staff.

Rather than bring in a head coach and let him make the calls, Nix has ripped apart the staff himself.

The news that Perry Fewell will not return as head coach may not be surprising — but this full-scale cleansing is. Many critics considered Nix a crony incapable of gutting out all the problems at One Bills Drive, an extension of Ralph Wilson's penny-saving ways.

With this one fell swoop, it's clear that Nix is aboard. The news of this flood of pink slips should be more exciting than that of Buffalo's 30-7 season-ending win. Every aspect of the Dick Jauron era had flaws.

At offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt was never qualified. It would be a surprise to see him rebound with a high-level NFL job anywhere. He was merely an staffer that worked his way from color commentary man to the play-caller. Amazing.

Granted, he was in a tough position. Jauron fired Turk Schonert 10 days before the season-opener. Elementary teachers can't muster together year-long lesson plans in that span. Van Pelt's hiring was classic Bills desperation.

Still, Van Pelt failed to capitalize on a holster of weapons most offensive coordinators dream of — a two-headed attack at running back, arguably the best wide receiver of this generation and a lethal deep threat. And the Bills finished 30th in total offense. Don't pin this entirely on an injury-ravaged offensive line and poor quarterback play. Van Pelt never maximized the offense's potential. His play-calling was poor at best. Most notably, he failed to ride Fred Jackson as the featured running back and could never get Terrell Owens and Lee Evans to feed off each other.

And then, there's Fewell. The past few weeks, the interim head coach became a lame duck more than a legitimate coaching candidate. Not to any fault of his own. Rather, the team would have no choice but to sever complete ties with the Jauron regime.

Fewell finished 3-3 as interim head coach, squeezing as much as he could out of Jauron's rubble. His most impressive win came at home against the Miami, but a tight loss to New England and blowout defeat in Atlanta sealed the deal.

After the Bills' win over Indianapolis' backups Sunday, Fewell was short and sweet.

"This football team, they could've gone astray and gotten in trouble and done this and done that," Fewell said. "But they didn't. They stayed focused. They came to work every day."

To his credit, Fewell's defense showed resiliency. A linebacker corps — that the front office failed the address in free agency — was hit extremely hard by injuries. Subsequently, Buffalo's run defense sunk to dead last in the league.

Yet the secondary managed to keep Buffalo competitive. Fewell's game-planning for opposing passing games was supreme. The Bills flustered the likes of Tom Brady and Matt Cassel to finish second against the pass (184 yards per game). More telling, the Bills had 28 interceptions — also second in the NFL. Fewell deserves a ton of credit for speeding up rookie Jairus Byrd's progression.

No one anticipated Byrd being a full-time starter, let alone a trip to Hawaii.

It will be interesting to see if Nix and his new head coach welcome back special teams coach Bobby April, who built his unit into the NFL's best. Annually, April's group finished near the top of the Dallas Morning News' special teams rankings. How? He placed a emphasis on developing core special teams players like Justin Jenkins and John Wendling. In return, Terrence McGee, Roscoe Parrish, Leodis McKelvin and Fred Jackson quickly emerged into the league's most dangerous batch of returners.

As you read this, general managers are surely in an all-out blitz for April. He is suddenly the hottest assistant coach in the league.

So Nix is uprooting the Bills from the most fundamental level — something skeptics questioned. No word yet on whether he will also fire personnel men Tom Modrak and John Guy but this is a start. As the rumor mill of coaching candidate grows, Nix has a clean slate to work with.

Now, the rebuilding process can truly begin.




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