The Buffalo Bills have interviewed 11 head coaching candidates since they began the search just over a week ago, following the surprising opting out of former head coach, Doug Marrone. Of the 14 head coaching candidates they’ve interviewed, only four are either current, or former, defensive coordinators (including Rex Ryan), where as the rest specialize in the offensive side of the game. You can review the list here. As new owner Terry Pegula and now-empowered General Manager Doug Whaley go through the interviews, the fact they are doing their due diligence. Taking their time and conducting a thorough shows that they are making a concerted effort to make the right choice, so that they aren’t in a similar position in the near future.
There’s a saying in business management: fire fast and hire slow. The statement is entrenched in the principle that you get rid of the nonperforming quickly so that it doesn’t affect your bottom-line, or other personnel. By hiring slowly, you are able to gather a full view of the candidate, pick out their flaws, and understand how and why they are a good fit within your organization. This is no different then what’s going on at One Bills Drive.
This principle was also further entrenched in my mind after just finishing the new Bill Polian book. I was welcomed to hear Polian talk about always having a list of coaching candidates at the ready, but never hoping to actually use the list. He went on to talk about how when a GM chooses a coach, they rarely get a second shot, but that he hoped to pick the right coach with the idea that he would be there for at least 10 years.
When the Bills targeted Doug Marrone in 2013 they fell into a terrible trap. They worried that Cleveland would steal him away with more money and they were pressured into giving him a favorable opt out clause. They didn’t see the red flags in Marrone’s personality hinting that he might leave if he didn’t like the situation. There have been further mentions of Marrone’s coaching selfishness since his leaving of Buffalo, which doesn’t look good on Marrone’s part, but doesn’t exactly help the Bills either.
Now it’s been reported that Pegula still wants to hire a football “czar” to oversee Whaley and the new head coach. A czar could be counterproductive as typically you hire a President of Football Operations before hiring a coach, but if Pegula is only seeking an adviser, and not an overseer, then the people leading the football operations may in fact experience better cohesion then what was previously established.
Currently by interviewing so many coaches, and all with varying backgrounds and degrees of success, the Bills can safely evaluate all of their options and choose wisely. What matters is picking the right hire, not the quickest. For a first time NFL owner, what matters, after understanding the landscape of choices and their different virtues, is striking with the right one.
The only issue with taking time, as the Bills have, is that when you find a coach and you have conviction on the candidate then it’s best to secure their services quickly. Polian pointed that out when he hired Tony Dungy in Indianapolis, stating he was so sure that Dungy was the right man that owner Jim Irsay called and offered him the job within 24 hours of the interview.
The Bills made a panic move in 2013 giving Marrone what he contractually wanted, and are still recovering from the wake that the “Douggernaut” left behind. Finding the correct coach that fits into this current team, front office, and owner relationship is paramount for a franchise with playoff aspirations. The due diligence currently being shown will hopefully payoff in multiple playoff appearances later.