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Thursday, December 31, 2009
Highlights from Nix news conference


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buddy Nix's introductory news conference provided quite a bit of between-the-lines insight on how he plans to approach the Buffalo Bills.

His first major decision will be to hire a head coach, and although he declined to discuss names, it sure sounded like interim coach Perry Fewell won't be the choice.

Here are a few highlights I picked up from Nix's Q&A with reporters Thursday at One Bills Drive.

The Bills want a coach with a proven track record. In outlining the qualities he most values in a head coach, Nix stressed the ability to assemble a staff. Fewell's only head coaching experience will have been the seven games Buffalo gave him after firing Dick Jauron.

"Another thing that's important, more so maybe sometimes than the head coach, is the assistants and the coordinators," Nix said. "If a head coach is a good CEO, then you got good coordinators and good offensive and defensive line coaches, you gotta have a good quarterback coach, somebody that can get that guy better -- and I'm not reflecting on anybody we got -- those are the guys you gotta have, a guy that can put a staff together."

Nix said Fewell will be interviewed for the job when the season is over, but Nix indicated he values experience in that role.

"I believe that a guy that's been a head coach probably has an advantage," Nix said. "There's not a way to prepare for it. It's different. I don't care how good an assistant you are or whatever, when you get to be the head man and got it all, you might be successful and you might not. You're rolling the dice.

"It's not a must that a guy's been a head coach, but it is important, I think."

Don't expect the Bills to dump a lot of cash into the free-agent market. Nix expressed his preference to building through the draft, dedicating money to players already on the roster and supplementing areas of need with mid-range free agents, not superstars.

Nix's philosophies sounded to be in direct contrast to the way the Bills have operated in recent years. The Bills have lost such players as Jason Peters, Pat Williams, London Fletcher, Nate Clements and Antoine Winfield because they refused to pay them.

"I've seen it done both ways over a number of years," Nix said, "but free agency to me should be middle-priced to below-priced guys, not the high-dollar guy that's going to bring you the big bang when you sign him.

"That money ought to go to our guys that played good and you reward them by extending them and keeping them around. We know what we got. Let's build that way. Let's make that team know that we're going to do that.

"Then we take places that we're weak after the draft and plug in guys. They don't have to be star players."

An overhaul in the strength-and-conditioning department could be looming. One of the first moves Bill Parcells made when the Miami Dolphins hired him as football operations boss was to fire the strength and conditioning coaches because of a relentless number of injuries during their 1-15 season in 2007.

Unsolicited, Nix broached similar concerns about the Bills' health problems. They have 19 players on injured reserve.

"To me, there's a lot more to a player being successful than how he was picked or what he was when you picked him," Nix said. "Obviously, the selection process is first, but second you've got to put him in an environment where you can get better.

"You've got to have good medical people, good strength trainers. You've got to have a coach that knows something about teaching. We ought to be getting better. You ought to get better. They're not rookies after about eight games, I mean, they're sophomores. They move up a peg.

"A lot of the things that happened to this team this year injury-wise is unbelievable. And that's a major concern, and I think something you've got to address and see if it's something that we're doing or not doing or whether it's just bad luck. But I think we've had it two or three years in a row. That keeps you from getting better."