The Buffalo Bills have officially hired an offensive coordinator -- and it was a name that no one saw coming. The Bills announced that Rick Dennison has accepted the role of offensive coordinator for the Bills, the last major assistant coach that new head coach Sean McDermott needed to hire.
Dennison, 60, has spent the last two seasons with the Denver Broncos as the team's offensive coordinator and has been described as the right-hand man to former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak stepped down from his position due to health concerns, and after new head coach Vance Joseph hired Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator, Dennison was in limbo.
The Bills new offensive coordinator has been in a prominent role on Kubiak's staff for the last seven years and has been on the same staff as him for a total of 18 years. Before his most recent stint with Denver, Dennison was the Baltimore Ravens quarterback coach in 2014, and the Houston Texans offensive coordinator from 2010 through 2013.
After Kubiak departed Denver for Houston to be the Texans head coach in 2006, Dennison served as the Broncos offensive coordinator for three seasons, from 2006 to 2008. He was then demoted to offensive line coach in 2009.
This will be Dennison's fourth stint as an offensive coordinator in the NFL.
Joe B's Take
Well, the Bills certainly have the experience box checked with the hire of Dennison. With the hire of Leslie Frazier as the team's defensive coordinator and the retention of Danny Crossman as the special teams coordinator, it was clear that Sean McDermott valued experience with the roles of his most prominent assistants.
Making matters even more interesting, there is a history with current Bills starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor -- albeit a brief one. Taylor was the backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore when Dennison was the quarterback coach in 2014, and the Broncos also tried to sign Taylor as a free agent in 2015 -- when Kubiak and Dennison went to Denver the same offseason.
Perhaps that could breathe new life into Taylor as the starting quarterback for the Bills in 2017, but that's merely speculation.
The big question here is as to whether the offenses that he ran were more of his doing, or Kubiak's. According to Troy Renck, the Broncos insider for 7ABC in Denver, it's hard to delineate exactly what Dennison did while in Denver, and while he was with Kubiak. Renck said Dennison was involved in game plan building, but on game day, no one knew who was actually calling the plays for offense between him, Kubiak, and Greg Knapp.
So, while Dennison has had some recent experience in the role, it doesn't seem like he's had a ton of reps as a play caller recently. And, as the main offensive mind on the staff for the Bills, they're going to need to depend on him to lead the way and call the plays without that support group in Buffalo.
My other hesitation -- and this is probably a personal preference -- is that I would have liked to see the Bills hire someone young, fresh, and innovative for the position. Someone like Ken Dorsey, who they reportedly interviewed, or just anyone with a creative mind for where the NFL is headed.
At the very least, Dennison has experience working with quarterbacks, and that's something that will be vital for the Bills moving forward -- with or without Taylor -- because it's clear they are trying to find a long-term option for the position.
I'm not saying that it won't work, and Dennison could very well be successful with the Bills, there are just preliminary reasons for hesitations based on his resume, and from the words of people that have covered him.
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