The Buffalo Bills head coaching carousel is in full swing and it seems like a new name is added to the team’s list of candidates each day. New President and CEO Russ Brandon and crew have already interviewed former Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt; Cardinals D-coordinator Ray Horton; former Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith; Syracuse Orange Head Coach Doug Marone and Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly. The Bills’ search committee is set to interview Broncos Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy today and with no other possible candidates announced, could potentially be the last interviewee. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the list of individuals vying to become the next head coach of this team starting with the 40 year-old McCoy.
Bio: A former quarterback who bounced around on a couple teams’ practice squads in the mid-90’s, McCoy never had much success in the NFL as a player. He joined the Carolina Panthers as an offensive assistant in 2000 and became the team’s wide receiver coach when John Fox was hired in 2001. He held multiple positions on the Panthers’ coaching staff during Fox’s tenure in Carolina before heading to Denver to become the offensive coordinator in 2009. Upon joining the Broncos McCoy was tasked with turning around an offense that just lost their starting quarterback in Jay Cutler and was left with Kyle Orton and Chris Simms.
In his first year McCoy completely remade Orton. The former Chicago Bear, whose career to that point was defined by wild inconsistency, enjoyed his best season in 2009 under McCoy. He set career highs in passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage on his way to leading the Broncos to an 8-7 record in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season. The next season McCoy’s offense ranked 13th overall in the league but his passing attack was seventh. Then-head coach Josh McDaniels was fired 12 games into the 2010 season after the team woefully underperformed in his second season but McCoy was kept on as the play caller when Denver brought his former boss John Fox in as head coach in 2011.
When Tim Tebow was pegged to take over as the starting quarterback six games into the 2011 season McCoy, who was known to favor a vertical attack, completely revamped his offense to tailor to Tebow’s strengths. By the end of the season the Broncos rushing attack was number one in the league and after starting the season 1-4, made the playoffs and beat the defending AFC Champion Steelers on Wild Card Weekend.
McCoy’s work in 2012 speaks for itself. The Broncos ranked second in scoring offense, fourth in yards, fifth in passing offense and own home field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. Sure McCoy was working with the greatest quarterback of our generation in Peyton Manning this season but he maintained a balanced offensive attack with a strong rushing attack to go along with a dominant passing game.
Why he makes sense: McCoy will get knocked for his success this season because he had Manning at the helm but his experience doesn’t lie. He has thrived in pretty much every offensive setting. He operated one of the better passing attacks in the league in 2009 and 2010 with Orton as his starting QB. He rebuilt an offense to cater to Tebow’s horrible arm and created the best rushing attack in the league in 2011. He maintained a balanced attack and led a 2012 squad to offensive dominance.
With the current makeup of Bills roster McCoy could potentially turn the Bills rushing attack into one of the league’s best. No matter who takes over for Chan Gailey one of the first areas they’ll need to address is the quarterback position. The most likely scenario would see the Bills finding a stopgap like Michael Vick, Alex Smith or Matt Flynn and drafting a developmental quarterback with an early pick. Of all the candidates it wouldn’t be a stretch to say McCoy is probably the best option to find success early with an unsettled quarterback situation. His success making Orton into an above average option and getting the most out of Tebow is probably his biggest selling point. His ability to adapt to an ever-changing league should also be attractive to a fan base that had to deal with a coaching staff that redefined futility when it came to making adjustments.
Potential Coaching Staff: Eric Studesville (Offensive Coordinator), Richard Smith (Defensive Coordinator)