NFL Nation: Bobby April

The Oakland Raiders hired Bobby April as special-teams coach. April has held that position with six previous NFL teams, including the past three with new Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles. Reid took several coaches from Philadelphia with him to Kansas City. April was not one of them.

Oakland also made official the hiring of offensive coordinator Greg Olson. The Raiders are still looking for an offensive-line coach and a linebackers coach.

Greg Olson is Oakland's new OC

January, 19, 2013
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The Oakland Raiders' search for an offensive coordinator -- their most important hire of the 2013 coaching season -- is over.

Oakland has hired Greg Olson as its offensive coordinator, according to an NFL source. The Raiders are expected to formally announce the hire in the coming days.

Olson was Jacksonville’s quarterbacks coach in 2012. Olson has had an extensive coaching career and will run an offense better adapted to Oakland’s talent base than that of Greg Knapp, who was fired after one season with the team. Knapp became Denver's quarterbacks coach Friday.

Olson is expected to run a downhill, power-run attack in Oakland. Primary tailback Darren McFadden excelled in such an offense in 2010-11; Knapp ran a zone-blocking run scheme that did not succeed with the Raiders.

Olson, who coached on Jon Gruden’s staff in Tampa Bay, has spent six full NFL seasons as an offensive coordinator, holding the position in Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. He worked with Rams running back Steven Jackson and Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman.

Olson has a solid reputation in the NFL. He has pieces to play with in Oakland, beginning with McFadden and quarterback Carson Palmer.

I think the right first step is going back to a power running scheme. Using the zone-blocking scheme was a mistake Oakland couldn’t overcome last season.

Olson might not be the sexiest of picks, but as long as he fits the personnel and works well with head coach Dennis Allen and the rest of the staff, Oakland should be improved on offense in 2013 as it tries to build from a disappointing 4-12 season in 2012.

Oakland still needs to hire a special-teams coach, an offensive-line coach and a linebackers coach. Bobby April is a candidate to be special-teams coach.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- After the Philadelphia Eagles' morning walk-through here Thursday, special teams coach Bobby April said that rookies Damaris Johnson and Brandon Boykin were on top of the depth chart at punt returner and kick returner, respectively. This has been a question many of you have asked, and much of the time that question has been tied to the status of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who is one of the best punt returners in the league but has been used as such less and less in recent years.

Jackson
Coincidentally, I was speaking with Jackson after the morning walk-through, and I asked him whether he'd be doing more or less punt returning this year.

"This year, I'll probably be doing it a little bit less, just because I'm focusing on wide receiver a little bit more," said Jackson, who returned 50 punts as a rookie in 2008, 29 in 2009, 20 in 2010 and 17 last year. "But that doesn't mean I'm not gong to do it. Coach [Andy] Reid will spot me here and there for a punt return, you know, like we did in the Giants game. If we need a big return, put me back there and hopefully end the game with a walk-off touchdown."

Jackson is, of course, referring to the December 2010 game in which the Eagles came from way behind against the Giants and won it when he returned a punt for a touchdown as time ran out. He has not returned a punt for a touchdown since that day, but he doesn't fear that he'll get rusty.

"It's second-nature to me," Jackson said. "So I feel like, once I know how to do it, I'll always know how to do it. Like riding a bike. So it's a great position to be in, my fifth year now and just having some leeway with getting out of doing it full-time, just spotting me here and there to keep me fresh at wide receiver. I definitely like that."

So there you have it. He'll go in and return a punt if they need a game-winning touchdown, but otherwise, for now at least, it looks like Damaris Johnson.

NFC East Week 15 decisive moment

December, 21, 2010
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

It's difficult not to choose DeSean Jackson's 65-yard walk-off punt return for a touchdown to end the game against the Giants, but we'll give it a try. That play doesn't happen without a perfectly executed onside kick by the Philadelphia Eagles with 7:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin insists that his players were warned about an onside kick, but you couldn't tell by looking at them. Veteran kicker David Akers approached the ball just like he was planning to kick it deep, but then induced a perfect lob wedge that rookie wide receiver Riley Cooper fielded without any problem.

Replays showed that Giants reserve receiver Duke Calhoun already had begun his retreat as Akers made contact with the ball. Apparently the warning didn't get through to the return unit. Once Michael Vick jogged onto the field with his team trailing 31-17, the Giants were in big trouble. He led two quick scoring drives, which set up Jackson's dramatic return.

Eagles special teams coach Bobby April has received a lot of (deserved) criticism for the way his units have played, but the kickoff coverage group completely duped the Giants at a critical time in the game. And that's why the onside kick is our decisive moment of the week. And depending on where the Eagles go from here, it may end up being one of the most decisive moments of the season.

Eagles deliver miracle in the Meadowlands

December, 19, 2010
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DeSean JacksonAP Photo/Kathy WillensDeSean Jackson celebrates on his way to the winning touchdown against the Giants.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants spent the better part of three quarters making Eagles quarterback Michael Vick look pedestrian. They battered him with a variety of blitzes as the Giants took what appeared to be a commanding 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter.

What happened next will be talked about by Eagles fans for years to come. And no matter how hard they try, the Giants won't be able to purge a stunning 38-31 loss from their memories. Anyone who says they saw this coming should be labeled a liar because nothing in Vick's game Sunday suggested he was about to slip on his cape midway through the fourth quarter.

The Eagles (10-4) now have sole possession of first place in the NFC East and the Giants (9-5) will have to rally to make the playoffs. All hope is not lost, but now's not a good time to convince Giants fans of that. When quarterback Eli Manning threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kevin Boss with 8:17 left in the fourth quarter, the Giants held a 31-10 lead. New York defensive coordinator Perry Fewell had put together a brilliant game plan to confuse and frustrate Vick, but one play provided the Eagles a shred of hope.

Vick found tight end Brent Celek racing down the seam and delivered a perfect pass over the outstretched arms of Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who had dropped back in coverage. Celek seemed so surprised to be in the open field that he frantically changed directions several times for no apparent reason.

What happened next probably will be left out of the Tom Coughlin biography, if he chooses a generous author.

The Giants' coach said his players were warned about a potential onside kick, but apparently it wasn't enough of a concern to send out the hands team. And when the ageless David Akers induced a perfect hop, rookie wide receiver Riley Cooper caught the ball with no Giants player in sight. Replays showed that Giants reserve wide receiver Duke Calhoun didn't seem overly interested in making a play on the ball. The Eagles' sideline erupted and you could sense that something remarkable might happen.

"[Special teams coach] Bobby [April] did a great job with that," said Eagles coach Andy Reid, who was drenched in Gatorade by center Mike McGlynn during his postgame address to the players. "That was a surprise onside. In other words, we didn't have our hands people in there, you know our onside kick people in there."

Down the hall, Coughlin was defending his decision to stay with the normal personnel.

"There were still seven and a half minutes to go and they were down two scores, so we didn't think it was necessary to do that at the time," Coughlin said. "There was no reason for us not to make a better play on the ball. We didn't have anybody even around the ball."

Coughlin further explained that having the normal personnel in the game gave the Giants a chance for a better return. And if someone could remind me of the last time the Giants had a big kickoff return, perhaps that explanation would hold water.

Given new life, Vick simply took over the football game. On the second play after the onside kick, Vick scrambled up the middle for 35 yards to the Giants' 9-yard line. And on third-and-goal from the 4, Vick raced around the right side for a touchdown. Everyone in the stadium knew he was going to run the ball, but it didn't matter. Doubt had come to visit the Giants' sideline and a false start penalty helped kill what could've been a game-sealing drive.

The Eagles got the ball back on their 12-yard line with three minutes and no timeouts left, which was not an issue for Vick. On third-and-10, he scrambled to the left and then raced for 33 yards. I'm not sure if the Eagles were sending in passing plays at that point, because it was obvious he was destroying the Giants with his legs. Vick ran for 94 of his 130 yards in the fourth quarter, and he finally let one of his teammates get involved when he found Jeremy Maclin for a game-tying 13-yard touchdown pass.

Things were going so poorly for the Giants at that point that it would've been wise to cut their losses and head to overtime. Instead, they were forced to punt with 14 seconds showing on the clock. Coughlin said rookie Matt Dodge had been instructed to punt the ball out of bounds, but he instead sent a line drive toward DeSean Jackson, who had time to muff the ball before making the play of the season.

Jackson darted right and then benefited from a crushing block by wide receiver Jason Avant. Once Jackson slipped past Dodge, it was obvious that the game was over. As Jackson tends to do, he made an abrupt stop at the goal line and raced to his left in order to milk the clock. By that time, there was pandemonium on the Eagles' sideline.

"Get your butt in the end zone," is what Eagles safety Quintin Mikell remembers saying as Jackson put one last dagger in the Giants. Mikell, one of the veterans on this team, said he'd never seen his head coach this emotional after a game.

Asked if he can recall being so emotional after a win, Reid said, "You know, I can't name another one of these. This is a special one. I mean, this is exciting. This was exciting for you guys; it's a great day to be a Philadelphia writer."

Reid admitted that he "goofed" when he didn't challenge a Jackson fumble early in the fourth quarter. At the time, it looked like the play would end any hope of an Eagles comeback. But on a day when the Eagles scored 28 points to win a game in the fourth quarter, Reid's gaffe is only a footnote. Vick can erase a lot of mistakes.

"He just had this determined look on his face," said left guard Todd Herremans. "It's like he's saying, 'I'm about to win this game. If you want to help, you're more than welcome.'"

So the Eagles went along for the ride.

NFC East Week 6 decisive moment

October, 19, 2010
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

We've all seen the violent collision between Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson, but it was a play that occurred a few minutes later that helped seal an important win for Philadelphia. The Eagles had taken a 14-0 lead on two huge plays from Jackson in the first quarter, but they seemed to be reeling once he was helped off the field with what we'd later discover was a severe concussion.

The normally reliable David Akers had missed a 37-yard field goal on the same possession Jackson was injured and it seemed like the Falcons had an opportunity to get back in the game. But Jackson's replacement on punt returns, Jorrick Calvin, had a 44-yard return to the Falcons' 34-yard line that seemed to wake up the fans and players.

Kevin Kolb connected with Jeremy Maclin for an 8-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a commanding 21-0 lead. I believe Calvin's return was a defining moment in the game because it provided the Eagles with a much-needed burst of energy. Bobby April's special-teams unit hasn't been that successful in 2010, but maybe Calvin's return will get it going.

I thought middle linebacker Stewart Bradley's sack early in the game pretty much set the tone for the Eagles, but Calvin receives our prestigious "decisive moment" award. By the way, I think Andy Reid should consider allowing Calvin to be the full-time punt returner the rest of the season. Jackson doesn't need to be exposed to additional punishment.

Observations from Bengals at Bills

August, 28, 2010
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Trent EdwardsAP Photo/ David DupreyTrent Edwards has the starting quarterback job locked up after another solid preseason performance.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Thoughts from the press box at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Buffalo Bills beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night 35-20:

  • If there was any doubt before -- or if Bills fans were in denial and still clinging to hope Brian Brohm would win the gig -- Trent Edwards is Buffalo's quarterback.
  • On the first possession, Buffalo had minus-12 yards aside from a pass interference penalty. The Bengals sacked Edwards the only time he tried to pass. But Edwards rebounded on the second drive, methodically taking the Bills down the field. He completed all five of his passes for 48 yards and connected with Roscoe Parrish for a 12-yard touchdown.
  • Edwards' stat line: 13-of-17 for 153 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. He had a 122.9 quarterback rating.
  • C.J. Spiller had another brilliant game. He ran 12 times for 52 yards and two touchdowns and two receptions for 33 yards in a half of work. He had a 20-yard run and a 26-yard reception.
  • As mentioned in my notes column following the Bills' victory over the Indianapolis Colts last week, Spiller is going to have a lot of negative-yardage runs because of his style and the Bills' offensive line. He had runs of minus-7 and minus-11 yards. But he's a threat to break away every single time.
  • The Bills showed off a little Wildcat. Spiller took a direct snap and ran 6 yards for a first down. In case you were wondering, Edwards remained on the field, split wide right. In the fourth quarter, rookie running back Joique Bell also took a direct snap and ran for 4 yards.
  • Parrish is one of those players fans always want to see more of, but size always seemed to be an impediment to increased involvement. Think Leon Washington with the New York Jets. Maybe new Bills head coach Chan Gailey has been able to figure something out. Parrish caught all four balls thrown to him for 56 yards and a touchdown.
  • Maybe the Bills were showcasing Ryan Fitzpatrick for a potential trade (hello, Arizona?). Otherwise, Brohm can't like the fact he quarterbacked only two series late in the fourth quarter. Brohm threw one pass, an incompletion.
  • Buffalo's secondary didn't have the same success against Carson Palmer that it did against Peyton Manning. Palmer completed all but two of his 11 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns for a 142.2 rating.
  • Second-year outside linebacker Aaron Maybin, the 11th overall draft choice last year, may have gotten some traction. He didn't start even though Reggie Torbor was out with an undisclosed injury. Chris Ellis started instead. But Maybin did force J.T. O'Sullivan into an intentional grounding call with some heavy pressure in the third quarter and sacked Jordan Palmer twice in the fourth quarter.
  • James Hardy, a second-round draft pick in 2008, didn't make much of an impression in his bid to stay on the roster. He had one catch for 30 yards (great pass from Fitzpatrick) and a drop. That was all.
  • Undrafted rookie receiver David Nelson had another strong game: two receptions for 34 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown.
  • Third-year cornerback Reggie Corner looked like he might be on the roster bubble in a deep defensive backfield. He helped himself in the fourth quarter by intercepting Jordan Palmer and dashing 20 yards for a touchdown.
  • Reserve cornerback Ellis Lankster, meanwhile, had another rough night. Quan Crosby beat him for a 44 yard pass play one series after Corner's touchdown. Lankster broke up a pass on fourth-and-goal from the 6, but he got away with pulling on Dezmon Briscoe's collar. Lankster was called for illegal hands to the face to wipe out an Arthur Moats 9-yard sack.
  • The Bills strength in recent years has been their special-teams play. Special teams coordinator Bobby April bolted for Philadelphia, and the transition to Bruce DeHaven has not been smooth. Their kickoff coverage unit has been awful. The Bengals averaged 32.7 yards per return and rarely started a drive insider their own 30-yard line.

Random thoughts on Bills' preseason debut

August, 14, 2010
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Some observations from the Buffalo Bills' 42-17 loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Friday night ...
  • You can see why the Bills hotly pursued Mike Shanahan to be their overlord. The Redskins went 4-12 last season, but looked like a far more polished team under Shanahan than the Bills did under their new coach, Chan Gailey.
  • Buffalo was sharp on its opening drive, despite losing running backs Fred Jackson (hand) and Marshawn Lynch (ankle) to injuries. Trent Edwards completed all but one of his five passes for 44 yards. Every throw was to a different target. A 20-yard Lynch run was wiped out by a penalty.
  • That was about all that went right for the Bills' starters or second-stringers. It seemed unfair to watch veteran quarterback Rex Grossman hook up with prospect Devin Thomas on a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The Bills don't nearly have that kind of depth.
  • This is how Buffalo ended a span of seven straight possessions, beginning with its second and lasting deep into the third quarter: interception, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt.
  • Of those seven series, only one began inside the Bills' own 20-yard line. None went farther than their own 38. Five of those six punts were of the three-and-out variety. They had another in the fourth quarter.
  • It didn't matter what Redskins offensive unit was on the field when it came to figuring out the Bills' new 3-4 defense. Not helping was inside linebacker Paul Posluszny being scratched. He missed the first part of training camp while recovering from groin surgery and should be OK.
  • The Bills were destroyed in every phase. The first game without special teams coordinator Bobby April, and Bruce DeHaven's return to Buffalo, was ugly. The Bills allowed a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. Ellis Lankster fumbled away a punt return.
  • Outside linebacker Aaron Maybin played deep into the fourth quarter and appeared to get pushed around. He finished with two tackles and was called for roughing the passer on what should have been an incomplete pass on third-and-6 in the first quarter. The Redskins eventually scored a touchdown.
  • But Maybin did record his third sack in an NFL uniform, getting to Miami Dolphins castoff John Beck in the fourth quarter. All three of Maybin's sacks have been in preseason games.
  • For you Dolfans out there, Beck struggled with his third team. He completed two of seven attempts for 27 yards, fumbled once and was sacked twice.
  • On a positive Bills note, backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick closed out a drive late in the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson. The score capitalized on a 43-yard Chad Simpson run two snaps earlier.
  • Nelson finished with a game-high five catches for 47 yards.
  • With Jackson and Lynch sidelined, Simpson and undrafted rookie Joique Bell had their moments. Bell ran five times for 52 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown.
  • Brian Brohm didn't play. Many Bills fans hoped Brohm would win the starting job, because he presents unknown possibilities that Edwards and Fitzpatrick don't. Seventh-round draft choice Levi Brown completed three of seven passes for 28 yards and an interception.
  • Gailey said Brohm will play Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts, while Fitzpatrick sits out.

Eagles re-sign LB Gaither

March, 31, 2010
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The Philadelphia Eagles just announced that restricted free-agent linebacker Omar Gaither has signed his one-year tender offer. Gaither, who missed all but five games of the '09 season with a Lisfranc sprain, has started 34 games for the Eagles since being drafted in the fifth round in '06.

The late Jim Johnson benched Gaither in favor of Akeem Jordan late in the '08 season. When Jeremiah Trotter was released before the '07 season, it was believed Gaither would be an upgrade at middle linebacker. But the young player has never looked comfortable as a starter. If he makes the team in 2010, he'll need to be a valuable part of Bobby April's special teams unit.

We'll keep you posted on the players who haven't signed their tenders. The versatile guard/center Nick Cole hasn't signed his tender at this point. I think the Eagles would be wise to pay Cole a little money and lock him up for a few seasons, but it doesn't look like it will happen before the April 15 deadline.

Updates from the Bills' coaching search

January, 11, 2010
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There have been a few dispatches about the Buffalo Bills coaching search since I left Cincinnati this afternoon.

Here are the highlights:

Dave Hutchinson of the Newark Star-Ledger reports the Bills have been granted permission to interview New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer this week. Hutchinson, citing an unnamed source, writes the interview must be conducted at the Jets' leisure and not interfere with preparations for Sunday's playoff game against the San Diego Chargers.

I wrote a blog earlier about Schottenheimer's thoughts on becoming a head coach.

After Saturday's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, I asked Jets coach Rex Ryan about Schottenheimer's performance. Ryan responded by suggesting Schottenheimer was destined to be a head coach in a few weeks.

"I really don't want to be honest what I think of Schotty because I want him here," Ryan said. "Realistically, what a job, an amazing job, kept them off balance. We were getting a million [defenders in the box]. He did a good job of mixing in the run and the pass. He called the game like a head coach. Yeah, we could've probably made more passes, more plays down the field. But we wanted to move the clock.

"He's just doing a tremendous job. I realize we're probably only going to have him for as long as we're in this tournament, but we're enjoying it right now."

Fox Sports senior writer Jay Glazer adds the Bills have reached out to the Arizona Cardinals about talking to assistant head coach Russ Grimm.

San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Kevin Acee, citing multiple sources, writes about Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera turning down the Bills' and Seattle Seahawks' requests to interview during the bye week.

As NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert reminds us, Bills interim coach Perry Fewell interviewed Monday for the defensive coordinator opening with the Chicago Bears. Seifert thinks Fewell is the frontrunner for the Bears job. Fewell appears to be a long shot to return to Buffalo.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Steelers interviewed special teams coordinator Bobby April, who triggered an out clause in his Bills coaching contract last week.

Martz interested in Bills, has connections

November, 25, 2009
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At a time when out-of-work coaches have been stiff-arming the Buffalo Bills, and the one coach who has accommodated isn't believed to be truly enamored, it's significant when we learn of a notable coach who's actually interested.


AP Photo/Paul SakumaFormer NFL coach Mike Martz is interested in the open Bills head coaching job.
A league source informs me former St. Louis Rams head coach and longtime offensive coordinator Mike Martz would be thrilled to become the Bills' next coach.

Martz won a Super Bowl ring as the Rams' offensive coordinator in 1999. He was head coach when they went 14-2 and won the NFC championship in 2001.

There's a widespread belief Buffalo's quarterback situation will deter most candidates, but the source said Martz isn't turned off by Trent Edwards or Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Martz, an offensive guru known for helping salvage Kurt Warner's career, drafted Fitzpatrick out of Harvard in 2005 as head coach of the Rams. The source also said Martz was a fan of Edwards when he left Stanford in 2007.

Another dynamic that could be appealing to the Bills is the fact Martz has worked with interim coach Perry Fewell before. If the Bills want to keep Fewell around, bringing in somebody he's familiar with and has worked under could make a difference. Fewell was the Rams' secondary coach for two seasons under Martz.

Martz fired Bills special teams coordinator Bobby April after three seasons in St. Louis. But there has been some speculation around the Bills that April won't be back next year anyway because they passed him over for the interim head coach job despite holding the title of assistant head coach.

Martz gave Bills linebackers coach Matt Sheldon his first NFL job with the Rams in 2001. Sheldon worked with Martz for five seasons.

Bills rookie safety Jairus Byrd, the NFL's interceptions leader, also knows Martz. Byrd's father, Gill Byrd, was a defensive assistant for three years in St. Louis.

Who will be Buffalo's coach in 2010?

November, 17, 2009
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Now that the Buffalo Bills have fired Dick Jauron, who are the candidates to be their head coach in 2010?

Here are some thoughts on a few potential candidates in no particular order:

Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIREHiring former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher would be a splashy move for the Bills.

Bill Cowher: It would take a gigantic change of philosophy for Bills owner Ralph Wilson to sign off on a larger-than-life coach such as Cowher. Wilson's modus operandi has been to pursue coaches who don't command a high salary and don't expect organizational control. Cowher essentially has his choice of any openings and will need to be dazzled by an offer the Bills have no history of making.

Mike Holmgren: See Cowher.

Mike Shanahan: See Holmgren.

Jon Gruden: See Shanahan.

Tony Dungy: See all of the above. Plus, he seems to enjoy retirement. He had peace of mind in leaving one of the NFL's elite franchises. It would be a colossal stunner if he would consider joining one of the decade's least successful clubs.

Marty Schottenheimer: The former Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers head coach has a reputation for getting his teams into the playoffs but not Super Bowls. Bills fans certainly would settle for that. Schottenheimer spent four seasons playing linebacker for Buffalo, winning an AFL championship his rookie year.

Jim Haslett: Many observers see the former New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams head coach as the perfect choice. Teams often like to go with a coach that has a different personality from the one they just fired. Haslett would be that. He's fiery. He also has a history with Buffalo. He played linebacker for the Bills from 1979 through 1985 and got his start in coaching as an assistant for the University of Buffalo.

Brian Billick: If the Bills wanted a coach with an offensive background, Billick is available. He was Baltimore Ravens coach for nine seasons, winning the Super Bowl in 2000.

Mike Martz: Similar to Billick, he's an offensive coach with Super Bowl credentials and currently works for the NFL Network. He coached The Greatest Show on Turf with the Rams for six seasons.

Jim Fassel: Fassel likely would be reasonably priced. He has been eager to get back into the NFL since he was fired as the Ravens' offensive coordinator in 2006. Fassel was head coach of the New York Giants from 1997 through 2003, winning one NFC title.

Perry Fewell: The Bills' defensive coordinator has been named interim head coach. He never has been a head coach at any level, but when clubs look for an interim coach from within, they generally look to the offensive or defensive coordinator. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was installed 10 days before the regular season and hasn't exactly done a bang-up job.

Bobby April: Buffalo's assistant head coach and special-teams coordinator would seem to be a candidate based on how highly he's respected around the league. But it doesn't bode well that Wilson bypassed him for Fewell.

Other names to consider: Todd Bowles (Miami Dolphins secondary), Ted Cottrell (former Bills defensive coordinator), Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator), Turner Gill (University of Buffalo head coach) Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator), Mike Leach (Texas Tech head coach), Paul Pasqualoni (Dolphins defensive coordinator), Brian Schottenheimer (New York Jets offensive coordinator), Marc Trestman (Montreal Alouettes head coach).

Midseason Report: Bills

November, 11, 2009
11/11/09
12:23
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Power Rankings: Preseason: 21. This week: 24.

2009 Schedule/Results

Kevin Hoffman/US Presswire
Terrell Owens has just 23 receptions in eight games this season.
Where they stand: The Bills are 3-5 and tied for last place in the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins -- but not in the same class. The Bills would need to darn near run the table and then hope for help along the way to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and that's not happening. Their offense is anemic, with a line that was weak from the start and has been decimated by injuries. They have the worst run defense in the NFL, and esteemed special-teams coach Bobby April's units are playing well below what we're used to seeing.

Disappointments: When kick returner Leodis McKelvin fumbled away a near-certain victory over the New England Patriots on opening night, it was a harbinger of the season. Bills fans were borderline euphoric over the possibilities of an offense with receivers Terrell Owens and Lee Evans and a potent backfield with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. Third-year quarterback Trent Edwards could have been looking at a breakout campaign with those weapons and a new no-huddle offense. The Bills woefully underestimated their talent on the line. The first string failed to score a touchdown in five preseason games. The Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert 10 days before the season opener, have Owens on pace for his worst season since he was a rookie and scrapped the no-huddle.

Surprises: The biggest surprise is that head coach Dick Jauron still has a job, but the spirit of this category is to recognize pleasant developments. There haven't been many, but rookie safety Jairus Byrd has been awesome. The second-round draft choice from Oregon has seven interceptions, tying him with defensive player of the year candidate Darren Sharper for the league high. Buffalo's secondary as a whole has played well, especially considering three-fourths of the original starting quartet has been sidelined. McKelvin is out for the season and safeties Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott have missed several games.

Outlook: After 10 years of not making the playoffs, the organization should have completed the rebuilding phase from its last postseason game, which ended with the Music City Miracle. Many teams have rebuilt, imploded and rebuilt again in that span. But the Bills likely are facing an offseason of further transition. In addition to Jauron's job being in jeopardy, the Bills still don't have a reliable quarterback -- a veteran or a viable understudy -- on the roster. With word they're considering Michael Vick, one has to wonder if the Bills have any organizational plan whatsoever or if they're content to wing it year after year.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

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