Who Calls the Shots for the Buffalo Bills?

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Who Calls the Shots for the Buffalo Bills?
(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Everything starts with the decisions that are made by an NFL team's front office.  If the general manager and scouts put together a below average draft it could hinder a team for years.  Ask Detroit Lions fans what Matt Millen did for their franchise.

If the players don't have a good relationship with their coach it could have a negative effect on their performance.  An extreme amount of hours must go into any decision involving a new coach.

If an owner is able to put together a knowledgeable front office as well as a well respected coaching staff, the team could find itself on the path to greatness.

The Buffalo Bills have put together an intelligent and respected group of coaches and talent evaluators.

Here is a look at how some of the key decision makers in Buffalo came to be.


Dick Jauron:

In a coaching career that is entering its twenty fourth year, Jauron has come back to the team that gave him his first shot at coaching.

Jauron was hired to be the defensive backs coach in Buffalo in 1985.  This lasted only one year as he left to hold the same position for the Green Bay Packers for eight seasons.

In 1995 Jauron became the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in their first NFL season.  He held this position for four seasons until the opportunity to become a head coach was offered.

The Chicago Bears brought Jauron on board in 1999 to be their head coach after two straight 4-12 seasons. 

In 2001 Jauron was named Coach of the Year after the Bears finished ith a 13-3 record.  Jauron held the head coaching position with Chicago for two more years until being let go in favor of an up and coming coach in Lovie Smith.

After his stint in Chicago Jauron went back to what he knows best and became the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions in 2004. 

When the Lions fired coach Steve Marriuci, Jauron was there waiting in the wings for another crack at head coaching.

In 2006 Dick Jauron became the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills.  He replaced Mike Mularkey after his resignation.  In his first three seasons with the Bills he has an overall record of 21 wins and 27 losses, and has finished with a record of 7-9 each year.   

Jauron's most promising season in Buffalo was in 2008 when the team got off to a scorching 5-1 start, only to finish 2-8 the rest of the year.

Many fans in Buffalo called for a coaching change after the gigantic collapse the team displayed in 2008.  The Bill's locker room however was fully behind bringing back Jauron for another year.  He has always been known as a player's coach due to his laid back personality.

The Yale graduate has a lot left to prove.  The Bills are hoping that Jauron can bring the same magic that he brought to the 2001 Bears to the 2009 Buffalo Bills.


Bobby April:

Perhaps the most popular and most recognizable of the Bills coaching staff is Bobby April.

April broke into the NFL in 1991 as the special teams coach with the Atlanta Falcons.  After brief stints with the Steelers, Saints, and Rams April found a home in Buffalo.

Since joining the Bills in 2004 April has provided Bills' fans with the most exciting special teams unit in the NFL. 

During Bobby April's first two years of coaching with the Bills his special teams unit finished first both years.  April was selected a the special teams coach of the year in 2004. 

In 2004 the Bills sent kick returner Terrence McGee to the pro bowl after a season in which he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns. 

The 2005 season saw punter Brian Moorman set a team record with a 45.66 yard punt average, and made his first pro bowl.

In 2007 April's special teams unit set multiple team records.  Punt returner Roscoe Parrish averaged 16.3 yards per return, and Rian Lindell made 18 straight field goals without a miss. 

After being promoted to assistant head coach, April was voted special teams coach of the year for the second time in 2008 after another solid performance from his kick returners. 

Roscoe Parrish pleased the crowd during the home opener with a spectacular 98 yard punt return for a touchdown against the Seahawks.

Rookie first round pick Leodis McKelvin was known for his kick return ability coming out of college, and he did not disappoint.  McKelvin returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in a Monday night game against the Browns.

With all of his weapons returning April should be in the running for his third special teams coach of the year award.


Turk Schonert:

Most of Schonert's 17 year career has been spent as quarterbacks coach for a number of teams.

Stops along his way included Tampa Bay in 1992 to start his coaching career, and a previous stint in Buffalo for two years in 1998.

After going on to coach with the Giants and Saints Schonert returned to Buffalo to lead their quarterbacks once again in 2006.

After coaching Trent Edwards through a productive rookie season the Bills promoted Schonert to be the team's offensive coordinator.

In his first full season as coordinator the Schonert led offense showed early promise with second year pro Trent Edwards showing why he was so highly thought of by the Bills front office.

An injury to Edwards led the team into a streak of inconsistency that they could never recover from.

The team finished 25th in total offense under Schonert.  The passing attack finished 22nd, while the running game finished a respectable 14th.

In 2009 Schonert will have some new weapons at his disposal to try and improve on his first year as a coordinator. 


Perry Fewell:

The fiery Fewell landed his first NFL coaching job with the Jaguars as a secondary coach. 

After five years with Jacksonville Fewell took his coaching knowledge to St. Louis and held the same position with the Rams for two years.

Fewell's coaching career took off as the defensive backs coach of the Bears in 2005.  His secondary led the NFC with 24 interceptions, and produced two pro bowlers in safety Mike Brown and corner Nathan Vasher.

That was all the Bills needed to see to hire Perry Fewell as their defensive coordinator in 2006. 

Fewell installed the popular cover two style of defense when he came to Buffalo. 

Defensive end Aaron Schobel benefited greatly from the new scheme earning consecutive trips to the pro bowl in 2006 and 2007.  Schobel set a career high for sacks in 2006 with 14. 

In 2008 the Fewell led defense was solid, but was only able to force 22 turnovers.  The Bills only produced 10 interceptions which is low for an effective cover two.

This was mostly due to a poor pass rush that recorded only 24 sacks.  Buffalo addressed this using their first round draft pick on Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin.  Maybin brings an explosive first step and good speed to a sub par pass rush.


Russ Brandon:

Russ Brandon's rise through the ranks with the Bills starts with baseball.  Brandon spent one year with the New York Yankees in their Sports Advertising division. 

He then earned his way to become the Director of Corporate Sales with the Florida Marlins.  After the Marlins won the World Series in 1997 Russ Brandon left the team to become a part of the Buffalo Bills organization.

His first role in Buffalo was as the Executive Director of Business Development and Marketing.  Just over a year later Brandon was promoted to the Vice President position in the same department. 

Two years later Russ Brandon was promoted to the Chief Operating Officer/General Manager positions with the Bills.  He became in charge of football and business operations. 

Brandon has started a new way of thinking in the Buffalo front office.  The Bills have been known to develop talent only to let it leave when contracts expire. 

Brandon has made an effort to detract from this way of business by resigning talented players like Lee Evans and Fred Jackson.

He has also done a nice job in free agency signing some big names like Terrell Owens and Kawika Mitchell.

Brandon has a lot of room for growth as the general manager of the Bills, but so far he has been productive.

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