The Chan Gailey era in Buffalo is officially over, and thus the search for the next Bills head coach begins.
According to the team's official Twitter account, Gailey was let go on Monday after finishing 6-10 this season, and 16-32 over the three seasons in Buffalo:
Chan Gailey has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the Buffalo #Bills— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 31, 2012
But before a new era takes hold in Buffalo, let's highlight a trio of potential head coaching replacements for the Bills in 2013.
Zimmer's defense has ranked in the top 10 in both total and scoring defense over the past two seasons, and nearly ranked in the top five in both categories in his second year as defensive coordinator in 2009.
Defense is certainly an area where the Bills must improve if they are going to win consistently, and Zimmer is the guy to call on. Buffalo ranked 10th defending the pass in 2012, but second-to-last against the run, giving up roughly 146 yards per game on the ground despite boasting a very talented defensive line.
Perhaps Zimmer wouldn't lead the Bills back to the postseason right away, but he'd certainly adjust the culture in Buffalo, bringing in a much-needed defensive mentality.
The Oregon Ducks coach will likely be targeted by several NFL teams this January, and you have to believe that the Buffalo Bills will be one of them.
Kelly has had a very successful career as a college coach, leading Oregon to four straight BCS bowl berths, including a BCS National Championship Game appearance in 2010. In Buffalo, Kelly would have a roster that includes a number of standout players, including gifted running back C.J. Spiller.
Offensively, Kelly is a brilliant mind and would be the man to call upon to jump start the Bills' 25th-ranked aerial attack.
Kelly has gone 45-7 in four seasons in Eugene, building Oregon into a national powerhouse. Although the adjustment from college to the professional ranks can't be overlooked, the success of former college coach Pete Carroll in Seattle provides an example of the potential with this hire.
Which coach would be the best fit for the Bills?
He may be entertaining inside the commentary booth on Monday Night Football, but trust me, a personality like Jon Gruden's belongs on the sideline on Sundays.
And it looks as if Gruden's return to the NFL will happen sooner rather than later. CBS Sports' NFL insider Mike Freeman recently reported that Gruden will interview for some of the league's open coaching spots.
Although it's unlikely that the Bills would be Gruden's first choice, or even one of his top considerations if he were to fully commit to an NFL return, Buffalo would be wise to pull out all the stops in an effort to bring in a motivator of his caliber. No one knows the X's and O's quite like Gruden, but few NFL coaches throughout history have ever displayed such charisma.
In addition to his legendary blowups and hot-blooded highlight reel, Gruden has a Super Bowl ring to show for his coaching ability, which should capture plenty of attention in a city like Buffalo.
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