Sal Majorana and Mike Catalana talk about the Bills offensive coordinator Sal Maiorana, Virginia Butler
When Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane conducted their joint season-ending news conference Tuesday afternoon at One Bills Drive, the topic of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s future was broached on a couple of occasions.
And when McDermott declined to give Dennison a vote of confidence moving forward in 2018, the writing was splattered across the wall that his days were numbered.
The announcement came Friday morning that Dennison would not be returning as McDermott recognizes he needs more from an offense that struggled all year, ranking 22nd in points, 29th in yards gained and 31st in passing yards.
A team spokesman said McDermott would not be available to discuss the firing.
The search for Dennison’s replacement commences immediately, and there will be no shortage of candidates, most notably Mike Shula, Mike McCoy and Rob Chudzinski to name just a few.
Shula and Chudzinski both worked with McDermott in Carolina, and Chudzinski is someone McDermott is tight with and has great respect for.
McDermott was asked Tuesday, in a hypothetical manner, that if he did decide to make changes to his staff, would he move quickly to fill the voids given the climate in the NFL where several other teams are making changes to their staffs.
“Being responsible and making smart decisions for our football team is what we do and what we’re all about,” he said. “Yes, there is a time element to this, and the evaluations around certain parts of it. That said, we have to make sure they’re well thought through decisions, whether it’s personnel or anything we do, schematics, whatever it is.”
Dennison didn’t exactly hold a strong hand in Buffalo, given that his quarterback was the maddeningly inconsistent Tyrod Taylor, and his wide receiving corps was among the least-talented in the league. Still, Dennison confounded many this season with some of his play-calling and personnel usage, and he never found his groove.
The Bills topped 30 points only twice, that in back-to-back games in October at home in victories over Tampa Bay and Oakland.
The disappointment in the offense came to a boiling point in the 10-3 playoff loss to Jacksonville as the Bills set a franchise futility record for fewest points in a postseason game. That day, the Bills had one scoring opportunity in the red zone and it failed miserably, resulting in a field goal thanks to an ill-conceived run-pass option play Dennison dialed up for Taylor.
“You know, there’s some calls we want back,” McDermott said following the game. “That’s probably one of them. Just situationally right there, more than anything.”
The Bills’ deepest penetration into Jacksonville territory on their 11 other possessions was the Jaguars’ 48-yard-line. It was an epic failure.
Dennison drew early criticism when he changed the structure of the Bills’ running game by installing a zone blocking scheme. Never mind that Buffalo had led the NFL in rushing two straight years with a man-on-man power scheme. The offensive line had difficulty adapting, and the Bills never ran the ball with the same success they had in 2015 and 2016.