The 2009 Buffalo Bills Coaching Staff: Playoffs or Nothing
After the 2008-2009 Buffalo Bills crashed and burned to a 7-9 record for the third consecutive season, the coaching staff collectively should be on the hot seat.
Any coaching staff in the league that allowed a team that started 5-1 and finished the season with only two more wins would be in that position. Some coaches would have been fired on the spot.
The coaching staff, led by head coach Dick Jauron, needs to take advantage of the tools they have assembled in order to build upon the 5-1 start and avoid a repeat of the 2-8 finish. That means that the three top coaches for the Bills are going to be very closely monitored this season by the fans and by the front office.
Head coach Dick Jauron has a lot of experience coaching, but unfortunately not much experience winning. He was the head coach for the Chicago Bears prior to coming to Buffalo, including a 13-3 season in 2001. However, that season has been the exception rather than the rule in Jauron's head coaching career.
He is a defensive-minded coach, having played free safety in the NFL and coaching defensive positions and spending time as the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive coordinator prior to becoming a head coach.
He prefers not taking risks on offense and relying on the defense to keep the score close. He prefers a power running game to complement his defenses to wear down opposing teams.
This type of game management influences Jauron's thinking for drafting and free agency. For the most part during his time in Buffalo, the team has focused on drafting and free agent moves that bolster the defense and the running game.
However, the run game has not been as good as he would like, leading to the Bills cutting Derrick Dockery in the offseason and not attempting to retain either Melvin Fowler or Duke Preston.
This year's draft continued to follow Jauron's modus operandi, spending picks to bolster the interior offensive line to upgrade the running game and bring in play-makers on the defensive side of the ball.
The man who will be working with Jauron to utilize the new defensive play-makers is defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Fewell has experience working with Jauron previous to Buffalo so they have a rapport in terms of what they want to do on defense.
Fewell has shown that he at times is willing to bring some heat in the form of blitzes, but some of that is because the defense has lacked consistent pressure from the front four.
Fewell will be utilizing his new defensive line coach Bob Sanders who was the defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers and his new rookie defensive end Aaron Maybin to improve that pass rush.
He will also be looking to improve the secondary's play-making with Leodis McKelvin starting full-time opposite Terrence McGee and rookie free safety Jairus Byrd getting extensive play time on passing downs once he gets acclimated to the speed of the NFL.
On the offensive side of the ball, coordinator Turk Schonert will have all eyes on him and his gameplan to effectively utilize free agent pick-up Terrell Owens and also help to keep quarterback Trent Edwards progressing.
He will also be tasked with getting the Bills running game going with a completely retooled offensive line that should be more physical than any Bills line in recent memory.
Obviously with the weather in Buffalo during the winter and Jauron's mentality, the running game will continue to be the focal point of the offense.
However, with new acquisitions in the passing game (Owens and rookie tight end Shawn Nelson), Schonert needs to effectively call a balanced offensive game and allow Edwards to take advantage of any opportunities he is presented with.
Schonert was the quarterbacks coach for the Bills prior to taking over the offensive coordinator position from Steve Fairchild who departed the NFL for the college ranks. He also spent time in that capacity with the New York Giants and the Carolina Panthers.
This season should be make-or-break for the Buffalo Bills coaching staff not only in Buffalo, but for Dick Jauron, his head coaching career for the foreseeable future. A winning record may not be enough to keep their positions either.
The Bills' fan base is desperate for a playoff berth, and with the talent acquisitions made this offseason, that should be the mark they are shooting for. Only time will tell if this coaching staff can meet those expectations, however.
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