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Bills Coaching Search Begins

Drew Bledsoe - AP Photo Tressel A Candidate? EPSN's Chris Mortenson weighed in on the Bills coaching possibilites on NFL Coutdown this morning. He said that the team, as expected, will interview Jim Fassel, Dick Jauron, and Tom Coughlin this week. He feels that the team will go with an offensive minded coach and listed Pats offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss and Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey as possible front runners. The interesting note was that he included Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel as a sleeper candidate.

Williams Interviews In NY: Gregg Williams met with Jets head coach Herm Edwards on Friday and will officially interview for their defensive coordinator position tomorrow. He is considered one of the top candidates for the position and may be a good fit for the Jets philosophy.

Modrak Staying? It appears that Tom Modrak is not interested in the Dolphins front office position. Sources close to him told a Miami newspaper that Modrak considers it a lateral move. The Dolphins received permission to talk to Modrak on Tuesday, but as of yesterday the two sides haven't even talked on the phone. The job is for a GM position but the powers are expected to be limited to player personnel moves. He already has that job as assistant GM with the Bills.

Haslett Interested? Days after it came out that Jim Haslett does not have an out clause in his contract with the Saints, another report says he is definitely interested in the Bills job. WKBW-TV is reporting that he has approached the Saints' owner about his interest in the Bills job. The report also says that he wants to talk to his good friend Tom Donahoe about it and he feels the Saints will let him out of his deal. Of course, if the Bills do want to talk to him and get permission, it would likely cost them draft picks in compensation to get Haslett from the Saints.

Spikes A Starter: The starters for the Pro Bowl were announced during the Titans/Ravens Wildcard game. Takeo Spikes was named a starter at outside linebacker. He got the nod over another first time Pro Bowler Keith Bulluck. The only other Bills' Pro Bowler is Ruben Brown. He will be reserve in the game that will take place on February 8th.

Saturday January 3, 2003

Fassel To Interview Tuesday: As Jim Fassel completed his interview with Washington the Bills contacted him yesterday to express interest in him as a candidate for their open head coaching position. After visiting with Arizona and Chicago he is expected to meet with Tom Donahoe on Tuesday. Fassel is a candidate in at least five open coaching positions. Some are suggesting he is number one on the Bills wish list for a head coach. ESPN's John Clayton speculated yesterday that Fassel will end up in Buffalo. There is a chance he may not even make it to Buffalo for an interview however. He has long been considered the front runner in Arizona where he was the offensive coordinator before coming to the Giants. He may leave Arizona with a contract offer in hand.

Friday January 2, 2003

Donahoe Has Pats On Radar Screen: It was a busy New Year's day for Tom Donahoe. After meeting with Lovie Smith yesterday he flew to Boston. He is meeting with Pats offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel today. This is last day to interview assistants for team's with playoff byes until they are eliminated. Weiss interviewed for the open Giants job already. Crennel has interviewed for the Giants, Cardinals, Bears, and Falcons job. The Bills were the third interview for Smith who has laready interviewed the the Giants and Falcons. He talks to the Bears today but may be the front runner in Atlanta.

Final Tallies: As we continue to wrap up the 2003 season we have tallied up our player of the week winners. Travis Henry led the way with four awards, he also led the way with eight gameballs. As you would expect, Drew Bledsoe led our other list. He was credited with six goats.

Thursday January 1, 2004

Bills Interview Smith: The Bills formally interviewed St. Louis defensive coordinator Lovie Smith today for the head coaching job. They are expected to conduct interviews with both Patriots coordinators before the end of the day tomorrow.

Wilson Likes Jauron: One of the reasons Dick Jauron will get looked at for the Bills' head coaching job opening is because of the respect Ralph Wilson has for him. Jauron was the secondary coach for the Bills in 1985. He was coach of the year in 2001 for the Bears. He is considered a long shot however and a safe backup choice.

Forget Haslett: It appears all that talk about Jim Haslett having an out clause in his contract with the Saints is just that, talk. Haslett doesn't have a clause and he will be staying in New Orleans. You can scratch him off the list of candidates for the Bills job.

Williams To Interview: As we reported on Monday, Gregg Williams will talk to Herm Edwards about the defensive coordinator job with the New York Jets. That position opened up when Ted Cottrell was fired on Tuesday. No interview has been schedule but he has been contacted by the Jets coach.

Final Grades: It was a disappointing season that is for sure for the Bills. Before we continue looking ahead to what a new year brings, we look back one final time. We have done our annual final grades broken down by position and by player. So take a look at our gameday homepage one final time this year. It has the grades along with our post season player awards as we pick the team MVP, Offensive and Defensive MVPs, and Rookie of the year as well as our unsung hero from the 2003 team. Year End Grades.

Wednesday December 31, 2003

Off Season Work Begins: The Bills have begun their off season work by not renewing Gregg Williams' contract. What's next? Columnist Joe Chenelly shares his thoughts on what will be a very busy off season for the Bills. Complete Story.

Tuesday December 30, 2003

Bills Grant Dolphins Permission: As we reported earlier, the Dolphins did ask the Bills permission to speak to Tom Modrak. That request was granted and Modrak is expected to interview with Miami for their vacant GM position.

Bills To Draft QB? Tom Donahoe was on WNSA radio today and said look for the Bills to draft a quarterback in the first day of the draft. It is unusual for Donahoe to pigeon hole a position and say they want a player at that position. He says it is time to groom a future quarterback.

Coaching Search Begins: Tom Donahoe has a few names on his list for interviews for the open head coaching position. He is expected to ask permission to speak to three assistant coaches that are in the playoffs right now, to speak to them he must do so by Friday or wait to their teams are eliminated from the playoffs. They are both Patriot coordinators, offensive guru Charlie Weiss and defensive coordinator Romeo Crenell. They are the two hot names right now around the league. Also on the list is St. Louis defensive coordinator Lovie Smith. Others expected to get interviews include current defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and recently fired head coaches Dick Jauron and Jim Fassel. They are the only two with previous head coaching experience which is considered a plus after what happened with Williams.

Modrak To Dolphins? ESPN is reporting that the Dolphins are expected to seek permission today to speak to Assistant GM Tom Modrak about a high level job in their organization. The report also says that Tom Donahoe is expected to grant that permission. In yesterday's press conference, Donahoe fielded a question regarding Modrak and said no one at this time has asked permission. If they did, he would have to discuss it with Ralph Wilson. In the past Donahoe has said he wouldn't stand in Modrak's way if a GM position or higher opened up. The Dolphins are looking for someone that will take some power away from beleageured head coach Dave Wannstedt.

Brown Speaks Out: Ruben Brown sounded very humble in a radio interview on WGR as he broke his silence. He said he believes he in limbo at this point and sounded happy with the way the Bills handled the situation last week. He said he wants to return to the team but the ball is in Tom Donahoe's court. Donahoe said he will sit down with Brown in the next two weeks to discuss the future of the all-pro lineman. Brown did attend the year end meeting after asking Donahoe if he's still part of the team, Donahoe answered in the affirmative. Brown did say that he wanted to play in the finale but was asked not to. He had no excuse for being late to practice on Tuesday but one story talks about how his wife is having a difficult pregnancy.

Monday December 29, 2003

Donahoe Clarifies Comments: Since this afternoon's press conference Tom Donahoe has been under fire for comments he made. As we reported earlier today (see four subjects below), Donahoe had strong comments about some of the personal criticism Gregg Williams received. Donahoe released a statement this evening clarifying that he was talking about the Western New York Media and not the fans. He spoke to WGR radio and apologized saying he screwed up and the comments did not come out right.

Donahoe On Williams: Tom Donahoe thanked Gregg Williams for his service with the team and regrets that it didn't work out in Buffalo saying it isn't one person's fault and said Williams couldn't have worked any harder. He said the team did not progress this year, and actually regressed causing him not to renew Williams' contract. He said the final decision was made this morning. He felt Williams handled things with class and dignity through tough times calling him a pleasure to work with from beginning to end and wished him nothing but the best.

Donahoe On Coaching Search: Tom Donahoe said that the coaching search will begin immediately as he will sit down with Tom Modrak and Ralph Wilson tonight to start putting together a list immediately. He said there will be no specific criteria on what they want in a coach. He said the new coach will have a say in everything football related and called the job a pretty good situation for a new coach to be coming in to. He admitted he has to do a better job this time in selecting a coach than he did last time. He feels money will not be a factor in finding the right man. He promised a thorough and complete search and it will be done the right way. There is no timetable for finding the next head coach.

Assistant Coaches In Limbo: Tom Donahoe said he will meet with the assistant coaches tonight saying their jobs are in limbo at this point. They are all still under contract and are part of the team but he made it clear that the new head coach will have total control over who his coaches are.

Donahoe Rips Media: Tom Donahoe addressed them media late this afternoon after the statement was released saying that they will not renew the contract of Gregg Williams. Donahoe opened his remarks by ripping the media saying he is embarassed to be part of this community for some of the personal attacks and criticism that Gregg Williams has taken. He apologized to Williams for those personal criticisms calling them unfair and saying that people in Western New York should be ashamed of themselves. He called the name calling and personal attacks that has been directed towards Williams and Sabres coach Lindy Ruff as inexcusable. He went on to be defensive about the potrayal of him as a power hungry man and control freak. He said his only agenda is to win a championship.

Williams Thanks Everyone: Gregg Williams read a statement to the media after the team released a statement announcing they would not renew his contract as head coach. Williams thanks Ralph Wilson calling him and the organization first class. He thanked Tom Donahoe for giving him the opportunity saying he has positioned the team in good shape for the future and he is disappointed to not be apart of it. He went on to thank his coaching staff, Players, the community and his family. He said he hopes to coach again in the future and joked about becoming a radio talk show host. His name has already been linked with the defensive coordinator position with the Jets if Ted Cottrell is let go.

Williams Gone: The Bills have called a 4:15pm press conference today to announce that Gregg Williams will not return as head coach. ESPN is confirming that Williams is out. We will have complete coverage throught the afternoon.

Draft Order: The Bills will have the 13th pick in this April's draft following a 6-10 season. There were two other teams with the same record, Pittsburgh and the Jets. Tiebreakers have the Steelers picking 11th and the Jets 12th. Things did not break well for the Bills on the last day of the season. If both those teams had won yesterday (they both had good chances to win), the Bills would be picking 11th. This ironically is only one spot higher than the Bills would have picked after last year's 8-8 season but they traded the 14th pick last year in the Drew Bledsoe deal.

2004 Schedule Set: 14 of the 16 opponents the Bills will face every year until 2009 has been preset. Now that the season is over we know the other two teams the Bills will play is the Jaguars at home and the Raiders on the road. Besides the AFC East opponents, the Bills will play Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and St. Louis at home. They will meet San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore, and Cincinnati on the road. That is three trips out West for the team next year. Dates and times will be announced in the spring. 2004-2009 Future Opponents.

Brown's Agent Speaks: The agent for Ruben Brown broke the silence that has come from his camp over Brown's absence from the team. Eric Metz said Brown wasn't with the team because he was late for practice on Tuesday and the team barred him from two practices and prevented him from boarding the team plane on Friday. Metz said his client was apologetic for his tardiness and was eager to play despite not having an excuse for showing up late to practice. Brown did attend the end of season meeting yesterday. The Bills would not respond to Metz's comments sticking with the "personal reasons" line they have used since this ordeal began.

Bills Free Agents: It isn't too early to look at the Bills crop of free agents this off season. It's a small group, with just six unrestricted, four restricted, and two exclusive rights free agents. The biggest name is Antoine Winfield. We think the Bills should lock him up now. We have launched our 2004 front office page and it lists all the club's free agents. It will also keep track of all the player and coaching moves as well as contract signing details throughout the off season. It is your one stop shopping to keep track of what will be a very busy off season. Front Office Report.

What's Next? Now that the season is mercifully over for the Bills, what do they do next? Columnist Tony Bogyo takes a look at where the Bills stand and what moves they may make this off season. Complete Story.

Sunday December 28, 2003

Players Clean Out Lockers: The players cleaned out their lockers today at the stadium and Gregg Williams addressed the players for what will be the last time. He did not talk to the media. Ruben Brown was seen in the facility but his locker remained intact.

Williams Out Tuesday? Chris Mortensen reported this morning that Gregg Williams will be fired on Tuesday and that Drew Bledsoe will be back at quarterback. We reported after last week's loss to the Dolphins that Ralph Wilson said that Bledsoe would be back, so there is really no surprise there. There has been different rumors about when Williams would be let go but there is no question about it that he is gone. One report says he'll be gone tomorrow, the Bills have said that they would wait to later in the week to make decisions.

Brown A Mystery: The absence of Ruben Brown remains a mystery tonight. Tom Donahoe and Gregg Williams stayed with the story that he missed the game for "personal reasons" and wasn't suspended. The fact that a player that hasn't missed a game in nine years was absent from the season finale deserves some kind of explanation to the fans and media. Brown was at practice on Wednesday but was excused the rest of the week. Drew Bledsoe would not elaborate on the situation but did praise the way Gregg Wiliams has handled it.

Player To Clean Out Lockers: Today is the most depressing day of the season as the players will be at Ralph Wilson Stadium to clean out their lockers, some of them for the last time. Antoine Winfield is an unrestricted free agent and would like to go to a winner. Ruben Brown may have played his last game as a Bill after this week's turmoil. There is also a chance Drew Bledsoe will not be back. It will be an interesting off season that will begin with coaching changes for sure. We will be here to cover it every step of the way.

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