These moves won't really affect us until next season, but a pair of AFC East rivals made a major coaching hire yesterday.
The Dolphins hired Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator. Nolan worked in Denver last year, and turned the Broncos' defense from a liability into a top ten unit. He converted the Broncos into a 3-4 team. Miami already has a 3-4 system in place.
Nolan was the Jets' defensive coordinator in 2000. He also worked on the Baltimore staff with Rex Ryan for a time early in the last decade. Nolan was the defensive coordinator of an unit ranked near the top the league there until he got the head coaching job with the 49ers. Rex took his place on Baltimore's staff.
Nolan is an excellent defensive coach. His defenses have constantly been among the best in the NFL. He'll do good work in Miami with no adjustment to the 3-4 necessary. I could definitely see a guy like Cameron Wake having an Elvis Dumervil style breakout season.
The East just got even tougher.
The Bills hired Chan Gailey as their head coach. The hiring of Mike Nolan by Miami is the typical sound decision you would expect from Bill Parcells. The Gailey hiring is the typical dumbfounding move I've come to expect from the Bills. I can't figure this out. Gailey's a proven mediocrity. He didn't win a Playoff game coaching the Cowboys near the end of Troy Aikman's career. He won more than 7 games as head coach of Georgia Tech once in six seasons and got fired. He's not a bad offensive coordinator, but why would a guy who couldn't win a weak college football conference is up to competing in a division with the Patriots, Jets, and Dolphins?
I get that Buffalo isn't a glamor job. It's one of the smallest markets in the NFL. Western New York isn't the most scenic place to live. Fine, it's tough to land a big name proven coach like Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan. Why not gun for a potential rising star than settling for a proven mediocrity?
This is what happens when your focus is on attributes instead of the end. I've heard the Bills were looking for an offensive guy with head coaching experience. Why not just find the best coach? Why narrow the parameters? Gailey has a decent track record as a coordinator and an unremarkable one as head coach. It sounds a lot like Dick Jauron when the Bills hired him. The only difference is Gailey is an offensive coach.
What are your thoughts on the hires?