The puzzling case of Perry Fewell
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • January 02, 2013 @ 10:13am
Before the Buffalo Bills hired Chan Gailey three years ago, then-defensive coordinator Perry Fewell had his eyes on the job. He’d finished the 2009 season at the helm, replacing fired head coach Dick Jauron and compiling a 3-4 record in the process. For a short time, Fewell—and Vikings’ DC Leslie Frazier—seemed like the favorites for the Buffalo job.
We know how the rest of the story unfolds: Fewell was passed over by Ralph Wilson, and Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey produced only a 16-32 overall record the next three years—the worst winning percentage of any previous Bills’ head coach since Hank Bullough in 1985-86.
Entering the 2013 campaign, Fewell is still considered one of the NFL’s top assistants—even though his New York Giant defense underwhelmed in 2012. Still, judging from this conversation between Buffalo Rumblings editor Brian Galliford and Big Blue View writer Ed Valentine, perhaps the Buffalo blogger is on to something with his evaluation of Fewell:
When the Giants played the Bills a year ago I asked Buffalo Rumblings editor Brian Galliford about Fewell. I [Valentine] have never forgotten Galliford’s revealing answer:
I liked Fewell more as a head coach than I did as a defensive play-caller. ... head coaches on game days are essentially managers; yes, players are executing their systems, but that job is more about motivation, game-planning and managing the flow of a contest. Fewell was pretty good at doing those things; he always struck me as less good at the minutiae of a coordinator’s job.
Buffalo’s sports media has shredded Chan Gailey’s game management, pointing to a lack of trust in kicker Rian Lindell and baffling under-use of star tailback C.J. Spiller.
It’s easy for Bills fans to be skeptical when rumors swell around bigger coaching names—you’ll remember the fantasy Bill Cowher rumors three years ago, and thus it’s normal to discount the top coaching options like Andy Reid, Lovie Smith and Chip Kelly from the Bills’ vacancy. Competing organizations can match the Bills money, provide a better personnel foundation and a more friendly playing environment.
Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez was quick to link Fewell to Buffalo in an article updated last week. Here’s the key block of text to reference:
Potential fit: With Chan Gailey having posted a 15-32 record the past three seasons, the Bills may have made the wrong decision when not promoting Fewell from his interim post. With hat in hand, one of Buffalo’s first calls for a replacement should go to Fewell if Gailey is ousted.
I’m not saying that Fewell is a favorite to land the Bills’ job, but he definitely should be considered. His familiarity with the Buffalo organization, his playoff experience with the Giants and history of strong Bills defenses suggest a decent fit. Clearly, Brandon has his sights set higher at this stage, but a Fewell future would be fine by me.