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• Mike Mularkey's weekly chart
|On Friday, Levy said that he didn't plan on being the coach when he accepted the GM's job, but said the situation has changed with Mularkey's unexpected departure. His comments, however, contradicted what Wilson stated minutes earlier after announcing Mularkey's resignation. Asked whether Levy, who was standing off to the side, would be a candidate, Wilson said: "Absolutely not."|
"It's mind-boggling," Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes said Thursday on ESPN Radio. "I don't really understand what's going on, but I thought [Mularkey] did some things well and there were a lot of things a lot of the guys didn't agree with. I don't think that he was a bad coach.
"When you come into the city of Buffalo people expect you to win not later, not two or three years from now. People want you to win now. So it's a lot of pressure. As a man I will always respect him because of his position and how he treated us as a whole."
Mularkey leaves the job with three years, at about $1 million annually, remaining on the five-year contract he signed in 2004. In his two seasons, Mularkey compiled a 14-18 record, including a disappointing 5-11 mark in 2005, when many pundits expected the Bills to contend for a playoff berth.
Sources said that, while family considerations played a large role in Mularkey's decision, his views on the future of the franchise were also a significant factor. Since the end to a dismal season, the Buffalo organization has undergone a quick overhaul, and people in the NFL have questioned the Bills' direction.
A source close to Mularkey told ESPN.com's John Clayton the primary reason for Mularkey's resignation was professional. According to the source, Mularkey didn't think the way the Bills were being set up would create an environment in which he could be successful.Mularkey was 14-18 in two seasons and had three years left on his contract. The move leaves the Bills searching for their third coach in five years. Not known is why Mularkey didn't raise his concerns after he met with Wilson twice last week. "I did not reach this decision lightly," Mularkey said in a statement released by the Bills. "But after much thought, I have concluded that for my own personal reasons and in the best interests of my family, on balance, outweigh any future benefits that may accrue to me by continuing in this position." Mularkey did not return a message left by The Associated Press. Wilson and Levy declined to list any potential candidates or provide details as to the type of coach they're seeking. Among the early front-runners -- besides, perhaps, Levy -- are Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, who completed his fifth season with Buffalo; recently fired New Orleans coach Jim Haslett; Dick Jauron, Detroit's interim coach; and Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Haslett has ties to the Bills, a former linebacker who played for the team from 1979-85. Reached by telephone Friday, Haslett said he's interested but has not yet been contacted. "Obviously, I have great interest in the job, there's a lot of good things about it," Haslett said. "I know the organization, I know Mr. Wilson. And it's a great place to live." Mularkey's resignation, while unusual, is not unprecedented. Bobby Ross abruptly walked out as the Detroit Lions coach midway through the 2000 season. Former Bills coach Lou Saban twice quit on the team in the 1960s and early 1970s. A former NFL tight end, Mularkey was a first-time head coach who joined Buffalo after serving as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator. In his first season, the Bills rebounded from a 1-5 start to finish 9-7. ESPN.com senior writers Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton and ESPN's Chris Mortensen contributed to the report. An Associated Press report also was used.