The case for Brian Billick

Posted on January 3, 2010 by Patrick Moran

As you’d suspect at this juncture of the season, rumored Buffalo Bills head coaching candidates are coming out of the woodwork faster than a Tiger Woods mistress.  We reported Friday that San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera would be a candidate.  Michael Cole of Yahoo Sports stated Saturday both Brian Billick and Brian Schottenheimer would be given job interviews by new general manager Buddy Nix.  It’s been widely reported last week that the Bills have already contacted Charlie Weis and he’s interested in the job.

On Saturday evening, Buffalo News senior NFL writer Mark Gaughn added some names he’s hearing to the mix, including a few surprises in Jim Harbaugh, Cam Cameron and Chris Peterson as well as the usual suspects in Jim Haslett and Jim Fassel. Perry Fewell courtesy interview thanks for stopping by is also expected to receive an interview according to Nix.

Expect the Bills search for a head coach to be much like the hometown weather.  If you don’t like it now, check back in 20 minutes.

One name not on the rumored interview list is Bill Cowher.  But Bills fans frantically eager to see Buffalo as his landing destination shouldn’t fret quite yet.  Cowher made it clear he will not talk to the Bills or any other team in the league about a head coaching job until the season is over and there’s a vacancy available.

Sal Capaccio announced on his Ustream show last Tuesday night that Cowher is impressed with the Bills organization.

Or course coaxing Cowher to Western New York will be a long shot at best.  He’s sure to have his pick of the NFL coaching job liter, and Buffalo for numerous reasons won’t be at the top of the list.  For Cowher to come here many things would have to fall into place, including a lack of opportunities elsewhere and an itch to return he can’t wait any longer to scratch.

That is starting to happen. Last week it was reported that John Fox would be offered his job back at Carolina in 2010, and Saturday night Pro Football Talk cited a source that says Raheem Morris and his Tampa Bay staff will be back next year.  Even so Cowher coming to Buffalo is still a long shot.

Of the alleged candidates to surface that Nix will interview, Billick is probably the most accomplished and fan pleasing of the bunch. He went 80-64 with the Baltimore Ravens from 2000-07, won a Super Bowl in 2000 and during that time his teams won two division titles and reached the playoffs on four occasions.

Despite Baltimore being renowned for their defensive prowess during Billick’s tenure he’s regarded as a strong offensive mind. He served as offensive coordinator in Minnesota from 1992-98 and in his final year there Billick helped guide a Vikings offense that set a then-record 556 points.

The Bills are without a standout quarterback and Billick has plenty of experience coaching with less than stellar signal callers.  Past their prime veterans Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Blake and Steve McNair have saturated Billick coached teams, as well as former first round bust Kyle Boller.

Another compelling asset of Billick is his ability to bring in strong assistants and coordinators.  Five current NFL head coaches (Mike Singletary, Mike Smith, Jack Del Rio, Rex Ryan and Marvin Lewis) served under Billick in Baltimore and former assistant Mike Nolan was a head coach in San Francisco from 2005-08.

But a potential Billick to Buffalo scenario isn’t all rose-colored.  He’s drawn his fair share of criticism and in some cases it’s been highly justified.

During his nine-year tenure as Ravens head coach his dominant defenses finished ranked outside the top six in team rankings only once, yet was only able to get them past the divisional round of the playoffs on just one occasion, their Super Bowl year.

His last season in Baltimore was exceptionally ugly.  The team finished 5-11 after going 13-3 the year before and was the only team to get defeated by the eventual 1-15 Miami Dolphins. There were also reports that the team, and particularly the defense were becoming dissatisfied with the job Billick was doing. He was fired by owner Steve Bisciotti following the 2007 season.

Billick also doesn’t have the best reputation in his dealings with fans and the media, which is peculiar considering he’s currently an analyst for Fox Sports. He’s highly regarded in football circles as someone of who’s big football mind is matched only by his ego.

But when you weigh the pros and cons of bringing Billick in he probably ranks second behind Cowher in sensibility.  The Bills, never lost on the marketing aspect of any move they make, can boast the team is on the right track with the hire, as his Super Bowl ring would attest.  He’s also a name known to most casual football fans, another factor surely not to be lost at the box office.

At the end of the day you’re going to read a plethora of news reports and message board rumors about the next candidate.  Assuming Cowher eventually gives the Bills a formal “thanks, but no thanks,” Billick is likely to be considered the front runner.

Going by what I’ve been reading all day long about Schottenheimer from fans, Nix may want to reconsider that phone call unless he’s using him to lure daddy out of retirement.

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5 Comments on The case for Brian Billick

  1. george

    the more i think about it im torn on BB. he is a great coach & accomplished, but his lack of sucess with qb’s thru history seems like a landmine for a team which has had a 10+ year disaster of trying to find one

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