The Buffalo Bills seem to have narrowed down their list, based on the most recent report from NFL.com, to two candidates for their offensive coordinator position. According to the report, current Kansas City co-offensive coordinator Brad Childress and former Jacksonville offensive coordinator Greg Olson are the two that have been mentioned for the job the most.
However, both have been in an offensive coordinator role or better (in Childress' case as a head coach) for 10 seasons, and based on the findings, the results have been fairly uninspiring over the test of time. Each potential candidate last enjoyed a great deal of success at least seven seasons ago.
New head coach Sean McDermott seems to be going for coordinators with experience in the position. What Childress and Olson do have in common, however, is their successful work with quarterbacks over their careers -- which is what has made them into attractive candidates to be offensive coordinators in the first place.
So, what if the Bills looked outside the box for the offensive coordinator vacancy? Five names they should consider, in no particular order:
1) Tampa Bay QB coach Mike Bajakian
- Of the names listed here, Bajakian has quite a bit of experience as an offensive coordinator... just at the college level. Bajakian was Butch Jones' right-hand man as he went from Central Michigan to Cincinnati, to Tennessee, but then made the jump to the National Football League in 2015. Bajakian was hand-picked, along with then offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, to work with top overall pick Jameis Winston. After his second season working with Winston, it's safe to say that the results have been extremely impressive. While turnovers have been an issue for Winston, over the nine-week stretch that the Buccaneers catapulted into playoff consideration, Winston's touchdown-to-interception ratio was 15-to-4. When it comes to developing younger quarterbacks, Bajakian has the strongest case.
2) Carolina QB coach Ken Dorsey
- The tie-in here is obvious. Sean McDermott came from the Carolina Panthers staff, and even from the defensive side of the ball, he saw Cam Newton evolve into the great player that he is. Over the past four seasons, Ken Dorsey has been the quarterback coach of the Panthers -- and those successes on offense should not be ignored. Fans are likely to recognize the name, seeing as how Dorsey was the quarterback of one of the most prolific college teams in history. Even though he was just a marginal NFL prospect, Dorsey stuck as a professional for seven seasons (the last in the CFL). He has long been viewed as someone with a great mind for the game, and at 35 years old, is an intriguing candidate with more experience than some of the others on this list.
3) New England TE coach Brian Daboll
- The only man on this list with experience as an offensive coordinator in the National Football League, Daboll has spent the past four seasons on the New England Patriots coaching staff. There, he's worked with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, but in the role of tight ends coach. Daboll has had three stops as an offensive coordinator, being with the Cleveland Browns from 2009 to 2010, the Miami Dolphins in 2011, and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. Had Josh McDaniels taken a job as a head coach elsewhere this offseason, Daboll likely would have been on the short list to be the Patriots offensive coordinator. There's another draw: Daboll is a native of West Seneca, which would surely go over well with fans and could even be part of the draw to the job for him.
4) Atlanta QB coach Matt LaFleur
- While the Atlanta Falcons are still in the hunt for the championship this season, it's looking like the San Francisco 49ers have made Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan a legitimate option to be their next head coach. As for Matt LaFleur, the Falcons quarterbacks coach, he has been a favorite of Shanahan since becoming an offensive coordinator in Houston back in 2008. Since that time, LaFleur has been on Shanahan's staff in some capacity all but one year. In Washington, LaFleur had been elevated to quarterbacks coach in 2010 and served in that role through the 2013 season. When Shanahan went to Cleveland in 2014, LaFleur briefly went to Notre Dame, and then the two reunited in Atlanta for the past two seasons. Now, LaFleur might be a tough one to convince to leave Shanahan's side if the latter gets the 49ers job because you'd have to think that he'd be on the short-list to be the offensive coordinator. Or, even if that doesn't happen, perhaps the Falcons would consider elevating him to offensive coordinator. However, if Shanahan somehow stays, the Bills should at least reach out to LaFleur about his interest in landing his first offensive coordinator role in the NFL. Really, with all the success that Shanahan has had, any person he has trusted for that long is worthy of an interview at least.
5) Miami QB coach Bo Hardegree
- This one is a little bit more out of the box than most, but Hardegree seems to be an up-and-comer in coaching. Hardegree has been in the NFL as an assistant all of three seasons and served only one year as the quarterback coach with the Miami Dolphins. However, after graduating from the University of Tennesee only in 2007 -- which likely puts him around the age of 32 or 33 years old -- Hardegree has impressed some of the best offensive minds in the NFL today. In a profile of Hardegree on MiamiDolphins.com, he came with a big endorsement from current Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Cooter worked with Dolphins head coach Adam Gase in Denver before leaving for Detroit and gave a strong recommendation for Hardegree. That got him in the door to meet with Gase, he was impressed, and Hardegree was hired. Then, when Gase left for Chicago, Hardegree went with him in a bigger role, and when Gase was hired by Miami, he brought Hardegree, yet again, another elevated role. Gase said of Hardegree:
“When Jim Bob left for Detroit, he’s like, ‘I’ve got your guy for you,’ ” Gase said. “He introduced me to Bo and he’s like, he’s smarter than I am. I’m like, whatever. I just thought he was trying to get his buddy a job.
“The longer I’ve been around Bo and what he does, his work ethic and the efficiency that he was working at when I first had him as a quality control guy. He makes my life really easy because he knows exactly how I want to do everything. He’s always one step ahead of me and he knows how to control that quarterback room. I don’t feel like I have to be in there all the time. He runs the show in there.”
When one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL speaks that highly of a young assistant, it certainly says a lot.
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