Bills hire Gators defensive coordinator Edwards
George Edwards’ tenure as the Florida Gators defensive
coordinator sure didn’t last long.
Less than a month after joining Urban Meyer’s staff, Edwards
left one of the nation’s top college programs Thursday to become
the Buffalo Bills’ defensive coordinator, reuniting him with newly
hired head coach Chan Gailey.
“I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to come in and
have a a chance to work with coach Gailey again,” Edwards said in
a release issued by the Bills. “I am excited to have the
opportunity to come to Buffalo and look forward to getting started
as quickly as possible.”
Edwards has 19 years of coaching experience, including 12 in the
NFL. He broke into the NFL with Dallas in 1998 as a linebackers
coach as part of Gailey’s first staff.
Edwards’ abrupt about-face came 27 days after he was hired by
Florida, and a day after the Gators unveiled what most recruiting
analysts rated as the top recruiting class in the country.
With Meyer beginning a leave of absence, team spokesman Steve
McClain said interim coach Steve Addazio will coordinate replacing
Florida could promote Chuck Heater, who was named the team’s
co-defensive coordinator when Edwards was hired last month.
Although Edwards had been at Florida for four weeks, he wasn’t
very involved in the team’s recruiting efforts that brought in
three of the top defensive linemen in the country.
Gailey touted Edwards for bringing “a wealth of experience,”
and for his familiarity with numerous defensive schemes.
Edwards spent the past five seasons as the Miami Dolphins’
linebackers coach, and previously spent two seasons with
Washington, including the 2003 campaign as the Redskins’ defensive
Edwards immediately announced his intention to change the Bills
defense from a 4-3 scheme (four linemen and three linebackers) to a
“We will start from a 3-4 alignment,” he said. “We’re not
going to give anything away about exactly what we’ll do, but
personnel will dictate what you can and what you can’t do.”
The Bills were the only AFC East team to play a 4-3 defense last
Personnel will be a question as Buffalo’s defensive line is
relatively undersized and lacks a true run-stuffing nose tackle, a
key part of a 3-4 scheme.
Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud previously expressed concerns
about how he would fit in a 3-4 scheme.
“I can’t play nose (tackle), but I could adapt to that. But I
don’t want to,” Stroud said last month as Bills players cleaned
out their lockers a day after closing the season with a 6-10
record. Stroud added that he’s open to playing any scheme so long
as he’s on the field.
Stroud is at least familiar with Edwards, who was the defensive
line coach at Georgia in 1997 during Stroud’s freshman season.
The move to a 3-4 likely would lead to defensive end Aaron
Maybin making the switch to linebacker, a position better suited
for his 6-foot-4, 250-pound frame. Used mostly as a backup
defensive end last season, the rookie first-round draft pick
struggled against heftier offensive linemen.
Another question is the status of the Bills’ leading
pass-rusher, Aaron Schobel, who continues to contemplate
retirement. Schobel told The Associated Press on Thursday that he’s
still weighing his options and hopes to reach a decision within the
Schobel said he’s put his Buffalo-area home up for sale, but
only because he intends to relocate his family permanently to his
native Texas. If he returns to play for Buffalo next season,
Schobel said he intends to rent.
At 32, Schobel completed his ninth season with the Bills and has
four years left on a $50.5 million contract extension he signed
before the 2007 season.