AP source: Bills to interview 2 more coaching candidates
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to interview two more coaching candidates before taking a wait-and-see approach to determine whether to expand their search next week, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press on Friday.
The person said the Bills are meeting with San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman on Friday, followed by Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Saturday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills have not revealed their plans to replace Doug Marrone, who stepped down abruptly on Dec. 31.
Roman and Austin increase the Bills’ list to 12 candidates who have been interviewed. It’s group that includes former New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan, Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
The Bills have no more interviews scheduled, but that could change.
Without identifying who, the person said, the Bills have identified more than one candidate on teams competing in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs this weekend. Buffalo’s search committee, headed by new owners Terry and Kim Pegula, will then wait until the games are over to see who might become available to be interviewed next week.
The Bills have already met with three assistants on teams still in the playoffs: Seattle coordinators Darrell Bevell (offensive) and Dan Quinn (defensive) and Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
It’s unclear whether the Bills will wait beyond next week to begin narrowing their list.
The Pegulas, who purchased the team from the estate of late owner Ralph Wilson in October, have taken a hands-on approach in what has become one of the franchise’s most extensive searches. After spending last weekend meeting candidates on the west coast, the most recent series of meetings are taking place in Florida, where the Pegulas live.
General manager Doug Whaley and team president Russ Brandon are also taking part in the interviews.
Wilson was not directly involved in the Bills’ most recent searches. The team’s last search took six days and involved five candidates before Marrone was hired in January 2013.
This is the Bills’ sixth coaching search since Wade Phillips was fired following the 2000 season. And Marrone’s departure was unexpected after the second-year coach exercised an opt-out clause in his contract that kicked in once the team was sold.
Buffalo went 9-7 to match its best record since 2004. The Bills, however, missed the playoffs to extend the NFL’s longest active postseason drought to 15 years.
Roman completed his fourth season with the 49ers, who are also in flux after coach Jim Harbaugh was not retained and was hired by Michigan. The 49ers’ offense finished ranked among the NFL’s top 10 in each of his first three seasons before dipping to 20th last year.
He is also familiar to the Pegulas because of their Penn State ties. Terry Pegula attended Penn State and is a major supporter of its football and hockey programs. Roman was a candidate to take over the Nittany Lions football team in each of its last two vacancies.
Austin completed his first season with Detroit, where he oversaw a defense that finished second in the NFL in yards allowed. His previous NFL stops included Baltimore, Arizona and Seattle, and broke into coaching as a Penn State graduate assistant in 1991.
Austin also has tied to Whaley, as both played college at Pittsburgh, though their careers did not overlap.
The Bills strength has been their defense, which produced three Pro Bowl linemen last season.
Buffalo’s offense has remained the team’s weakness, and lacks an established starting quarterback. Veteran journeyman Kyle Orton announced his intention to retire after closing last season with a 7-5 record. He took over after second-year starter EJ Manuel was benched after a 2-2 start.
Manuel, a former first-round draft pick, has two years left on his contract.
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