The Buffalo Bills will have a very different offensive approach after the firing of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison on Friday. The team confirmed that Dennison will not return in 2018.
What those changes entail remain to be seen. However, it also has been widely speculated that the Bills also will strongly consider making a change at quarterback and moving on from Tyrod Taylor this offseason.
Despite making the playoffs with a 9-7 record, the offense struggled over the course of the season, with the Bills even benching Taylor for one game before reinstating him a week later. The Bills averaged 302.6 yards per game (ranked 29th) and 18.9 points per game (22nd). They managed only three points in the wild-card loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and failed to score more than 16 points in seven regular-season games.
Dennison arrived in Buffalo before the start of last season after head coach Sean McDermott took over, previously having served as an offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos for two stints (2006 to 2008 and 2015 to 2016) and for the Houston Texans (2010 to 2013).
We don’t yet know what direction the Bills will go at quarterback, but we have an idea on who might replace Dennison. Two names might rise to the top of the list — former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy and former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula.
McCoy was fired from the Broncos midseason after returning to the team for a second stint (where, coincidentally, he replaced Dennison as coordinator in 2009). Several teams reportedly were interested in speaking with McCoy then, so the Bills might have some competition for his services. The 45-year-old McCoy compiled a regular-season record of 27-37 as Chargers head coach.
Shula was on staff with McDermott in Carolina for six years, so there’s an obvious connection there. The Panthers fired Shula in a staff shakeup this week, and McDermott and GM Brandon Beane (another Carolina import) have not been shy in bringing their former team’s assets north with them to Buffalo.
Prior to the Bills meeting the Panthers in Week 2 this season, McDermott said, “Mike Shula does an incredible job of moving pieces around” and called the Panthers a “very dynamic offense.” The Panthers beat the Bills, 9-3, that day.
But we’re not sure if Shula will be the top candidate. There were reports that McDermott’s first choice for offensive coordinator when he got the Bills’ job was McCoy. Although they have not worked together, they have matched wits as opponents for years. But there is one interesting connection: McDermott and McCoy have the same agent, Bob LaMonte. That could be enough to make McCoy among the first calls the Bills make when they reach out for Dennison’s replacement.