Here is some background on the coaches who have interviewed or will interview with the Buffalo Bills for their head coaching position:
Ken Whisenhunt- spent the last 6 years as Arizona Cardinals Head Coach and recorded a 45-51 record in the regular season. The 50 year old Whisenhunt is the winningest coach in Cards history. He led Arizona to back to back division titles in 2008 and 2009 and the franchise’s first ever berth in a Super Bowl. Whisenhunt had just 2 winning seasons in 6 years. His rise and fall equates with Kurt Warner’s career in the desert. With Warner as the quarterback, Whisenhunt’s teams went 27-21 and their offense was ranked in the top 11 all 3 seasons. Without Warner, Whisenhunt’s record plummeted to 18-30 and his offense was in the bottom ten each of the last 3 years. Whisenhunt has a relationship with Bills Assistant General Manager Doug Whaley from their time in Pittsburgh. Whisenhunt was on Bill Cowher’s staff when Whaley was in the Steelers front office.
Mike McCoy- has been the offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos the last 4 seasons. The 40 year old McCoy previously worked as an assistant in Carolina for 9 years where his responsibilities ranged from wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach to passing game coordinator. McCoy worked with Jake Delhomme who had 89 touchdown passes from 2003-2006, the 5th best total in the NFL over that period. Delhomme earned a Pro Bowl spot in 2005. In Denver, McCoy worked with Kyle Orton who had the best year of his career back in 2009 and then led the 7th ranked passing offense in 2010.
Lovie Smith- spent the past 9 years as Head Coach of the Chicago Bears. The 54 year old Smith was fired after a 10-6 season but his teams have missed the playoffs 5 of the last 6 years. Smith’s teams have annually had one of the better defenses in the NFL. This season they finished 3rd in points, 8th against both the run and the pass, 11th in sacks, 6th on 3rd down and they led the league in TD’s scored by a defense. Smith was 81-63 in the regular season, won 3 division titles and led the Bears to 1 Super Bowl berth. His downfall was the offensive side of the ball. Over his 9 years in Chicago, the Bears averaged the second fewest yards per game(even lower than the Bills), they’ve used 11 different quarterbacks and 4 different offensive coordinators. Smith also couldn’t beat the big boy on the block. His teams lost 8 of their last 9 meetings with Green Bay. Smith’s teams also didn’t fare well in December, recording a 17-19 record in the final month of the season.
Ray Horton-Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator the last 2 years. While Whisenhunt’s offense struggled, Horton’s defense performed more than admirably. This season Arizona’s defense ended up 12th in total yards, 5th in sacks, 2nd in 3rd down(Bills were last), 3rd in red zone(Bills were last) and they led the NFL in interceptions. Horton, who played defensive back in the NFL for 10 years, studied under Hall of Fame Coach Dick LeBeau. Horton played 6 years for LeBeau in Cincinnati and worked as an assistant for LeBeau for 5 years with the Bengals and 7 years in Pittsburgh. In all, the 52 year old Horton has 19 years of experience as an NFL assistant coach. He owns 2 Super Bowl rings, one as a coach(Pittsburgh) and one as a player. Horton was on the Dallas team that smashed the Bills in Super Bowl 27.
Hue Jackson- assistant defensive backs and special teams coach with Cincinnati. Despite his role with the Bengals this season, Jackson is an offensive minded coach. He has served as an offensive coordinator with Washington(2003), Atlanta(2007 and Oakland(2010). In his first season with the Raiders, they more than doubled their point total from the previous season. The 57 year old Jackson was the Raiders Head Coach in 2011 and their offense was 9th in the NFL while they put together an 8-8 record. Jackson also spent 2 years in Baltimore as the QB coach and worked with Joe Flacco who made the playoffs as a rookie, under Jackson’s tutelage. Jackson is said to have a close relationship with Lovie Smith.
Russ Grimm- has spent the last 6 years as assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach with the Arizona Cardinals. Prior to that Grimm was OL Coach for 6 years in Pittsburgh. That followed a 9 year stretch in the same position with Washington. The 53 year old Grimm played the line for 11 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He won 3 Super Bowls as a player and 1 as an assistant coach. Grimm is believed to have turned down a chance to interview for the Bills job when it was open back in 2010.
Doug Marrone- is the Head Coach at Syracuse University and has done a tremendous job of turning around a program that had plummeted to the bottom of the Big East. Marrone led the Orange to an 8-5 record this season and a bowl game victory over West Virginia. Marrone is considered an up and coming coach and a good offensive mind. He does have NFL experience, having served as the New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator under Sean Payton from2006-2008 and the NY Jets O-Line coach under Herm Edwards from 2002-2005.
Chip Kelly- the Oregon Ducks head coach is the top coaching candidate in the college ranks. Over his 4 years in Eugene, the Ducks have gone 45-7. They have earned 4 straight BCS bowl bids, one of only 4 programs to accomplish that feat. Kelly has put together one of the most entertaining offenses ever seen with a frenetic pace and explosive production. Oregon’s up tempo no huddle is a key reason why the Ducks have run the 3rd most plays of any team that has played 12 games this season. Oregon averaged over 50 points a game this season and in Kelly’s 4 seasons in charge, the Ducks have averaged more than 40 points and 480 yards a game.
Keep it tuned to WGR 550 for the latest information on the Bills search for a new Head Coach.