Bills News: Turk Schonert Has To Spice Up Buffalo O

RealFootball365.comSenior Writer IJanuary 17, 2008

Though there were worthwhile candidates outside the franchise who have proven themselves as play-callers (Norm Chow, for instance), Bills head coach Dick Jauron thought it would be best to stay in-house and keep the team on its current path.

"If you have the quality of people to stay inside and can do that, I think it enhances the morale of the whole [coaching] staff," said Jauron.

However, considering Buffalo is coming off two straight seasons in which its offense ranked 30th out of 32 NFL teams, Jauron's call to keep the 'O' on its present pace is a curious one right now.

Nevertheless, the 51-year-old Schonert, a longtime NFLer as a player and assistant, deserves the benefit of the doubt and a fair chance to succeed. Schonert's successor, Steve Fairchild, was given an opportunity as a first-time pro coordinator, and he failed miserably.

In order to outdo his predecessor and markedly improve Buffalo's offense, Schonert will need to branch out from Fairchild's game plan. This past season, the Bills were so predictable and conservative on offense that they oftentimes resembled a high school-level attack. Evidence of that came to the fore in the Bills' meaningless Week 17 loss to the Eagles; in a 17-9 defeat in Philadelphia, the Bills took just one shot downfield (an incomplete pass) and elected to stick with painfully vanilla play-calling even in a contest that meant absolutely nothing. That game was a microcosm of Fairchild's two-year era in Buffalo, and it was fitting that he ended as conservatively as he began as the Bills' O-coordinator.

Schonert, a pro quarterback for eight years, must show a willingness to loosen the reins on soon-to-be second-year passer Trent Edwards. As a rookie in 2007, the third-round pick from Stanford threw for over 1,600 yards and seven touchdowns, but he was seemingly hampered by a gutless game plan. If the Bills want to maximize Edwards' potential and have their other weapons -- running back Marshawn Lynch and wide receiver Lee Evans, mainly -- thrive, Schonert's sideline decision-making will have to better Fairchild's by a large margin.

Already, Schonert claims he's going to be a more aggressive play-caller than Buffalo was accustomed to under Fairchild.

If true, that's good news for a Bills fan base that bore witness to a feckless attack that lacked any imagination during the past two seasons and finished in the league's basement as a result.

*E-mail: cbyrne@realfootball365.com.

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