Williams Assembles Coaching Staff
Wednesday was the busiest day of the week as four more coaches were added including two coaches that were forgone conclusions. As totally expected Jerry Gray and Ronnie Vinklarek came over with Williams from Tennessee. Gray will be the defensive coordinator and Vinklarek is the new offensive line coach. The other two coaches hired on Wednesday were Miles Aldridge as the linebackers coach and Danny Smith as the special teams coach. Aldridge comes with no pro experience but is considered a top college coordinator. Smith is suppose to bring an aggressive and organized approach to special teams. Gray and Vinklarek were solid coaches with Tennessee and Gray was a pro bowl defensive back during his playing days. Our Take: Time will tell whether or not these coaches will work out. One of the reason Williams was hired was because of his extensive list of assistants he wanted to hire. For that reason, we need to give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he is doing.
On Thursday and Friday the Bills brought in two more coaches from the college ranks. First Fred Graves was plucked from the University of Utah to be the new receivers coach. On Friday, Steve Kragthorpe became the new QB coach beating out Jim Zorn and former Bill Joe Ferguson for the post. Kragthorpe was recently the offensive coordinator for Texas A&M. His hiring was officially announced on Monday. Our Take: It will be interesting to see if going to the college ranks for many of the assistants will pay off. One thing is for sure, this will be a very inexperienced coaching staff. The one thing that may help was the indication on Friday, and the confirmation on Monday that John Levra and Chuck Lester will remain with the staff. They will bring the consistency and experience needed to the young staff.
The other big issue of the week is the salary cap and how it will effect the players on the team including the QB situation. It is well known now that one QB will go and it appears Doug Flutie has the edge on staying in Buffalo over Rob Johnson based on some rumors and speculation by many people including ESPNs John Clayton. Our Take: We would like to see Johnson stay since his cap figure is lower and he is younger with a better arm. If Flutie does stay the club will need to find a QB in the draft. If Johnson stays, an experienced backup needs to be found in free agency.
The Bills continued to restructure contracts to get under the salary cap so they will have enough money to re-sign Eric Moulds. John Fina, Ruben Brown and Ken Irvin became the latest Bills to restructured contracts for salary cap relief. These moves should shave another $3 - $4 Million off the cap. Our Take: These moves are done out of necessity but it does create future cap problems as well. For more on contracts and the salary cap at anytime go to our front office page.
In other cap news, as expected Ted Washington is refusing to re-do his contract to save cap space. After taking a pay cut last year he said he would not do it again and he is holding to it. Phil Hansen is also surprisingly refusing to re-do his deal. Our Take: Washington's actions makes sense for him because if he gets cut, there will be a big market for him. Hansen's actions don't. He is older and coming off of a knee injury his market value may not be so strong. Either way, with a new regime with no sentimental ties, both could be gone.
In other news, the Bills officially signed the three players that were on their practice squad last year. Corey Hulsey, Josh Roth, and Jarett Procell are now on the 53 man roster. Our Take: These were administrative moves that need to be made for the team to hold on to these players since there is no practice squad in the off season.
Former running backs coach Bishop Harris has landed with the Jets. He was with the Bills in the 1999 season. Carl Mauck will now be shouting on the sidelines with the Detroit Lions as he took the offensive line coaching job with the team. Our Take: This is good news for Harris who's coaching style was missed this past season with the Bills. Good riddance to Mauck. We won't miss the sideline shots of him screaming at the players for his inept coaching.
Tom Donahoe had an informal meeting with the press on Friday. He talked about a wide range of issues including many we have talked about in this week in review. The main news was the explanation by Donahoe that the Bills couldn't trade a QB they will have to cut one since the trading period does not start until free agency does and the Bills need to get under the cap by then. He also reiterated that some tough calls will be made and there will be some cuts that won't make people happy but they have to be done. Our Take: This is a positive of having a new regime that have no emotional ties to the players. Donahoe seems to be getting ready to make the right moves to get the cap situation under control for the future so the Bills won't be cutting many players every year.
The Bills put season tickets on sale on Friday. You can get them by calling the ticket office or online at the official website. Our Take: This is the first sign that there is a season at the end of the long tunnel known as the off season.
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