In The Midst Of Uncertainty, The Bills Turn To A Buddy

By PFC Bills Writer Jay Kommuru

 It was as though Buddy Nix was reading my mind when addressing the media at One Bills Drive as the new GM of the Buffalo Bills: “I can see some disappointment on some of your faces that one of the geniuses isn’t standing up here.” At first glance, I thought this was just another “in-house” hire. Some old guy from the “inner circle” of Ralph Wilson which has yet to produce anything more than a 7-9 record in the last decade. But curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to do some more background research on Buddy Nix. I knew that he was hired in 2008 as National Scout by the Bills, from the Chargers. Besides that, I had never really heard his name or seen his work. But the more I learn about Mr. Nix, the more I am warming to the idea of him as the head of all things football in Buffalo. His resume is impressive, to say the least. Nix has ties to the Bills’ glory days as he was employed here from ’93-’00 along with John Butler and A.J. Smith. He followed them to San Diego in 2001, and took the post of Assistant G.M. and Director of Player Personnel after the death of John Butler. After ownership, he was second only to A.J. Smith within the Chargers organization. His main job was pro and college scouting and he was instrumental in each of their drafts from 2001 to 2008.

 Nix helped turn a 1-15 organization into a perennial playoff contender in the AFC West. From 2004 to 2008, his draftees have turned in an astonishing 28 pro bowl appearances. If that stat does not catch your attention, then I’m not sure you’ll ever warm up to Buddy Nix. He brings instant credibility to an organization that has been run by a marketing man for the past few years. Sure he’s no popular name, or considered one of the “geniuses” yet. But then again, he’s never had the chance to be the head guy. And make no mistake about it; behind every successful GM in the NFL, there are excellent college and pro scouts. While I’m sure most or all of those pro-bowlers were endorsed by A.J. Smith, many of them caught the eye of Buddy Nix first. As a talent evaluator, he is well-qualified.
 Want more evidence? Just listen to his inaugural press conference. He has been in coaching for 30 years at the high school and college level, and his first task will be to get the right coaching staff to turn this franchise around. When asked about his qualifications for a prospective head coach, he offered the following answer: “A good teacher, a leader and a guy that everybody can work with. I think it’s vital that the GM and the head coach communicate. You’ve got to talk. Most of the breakdowns come when you don’t discuss things together.” He elaborated further: “Another thing that’s more important are the coordinators. If the head coach is a good CEO and he can bring in good coordinators and good line coaches and a good QB coach that can get your QBs better that’s big. You need a guy that can put a staff together.” Nix also specified that while those with no head coaching experience may be considered for the position, having prior head coaching experience at the NFL level will certainly be a plus.

 He also essentially told the fan base that Mr. Wilson is willing spend as much as it takes to bring the right guy in. “I’m convinced that if we don’t and we don’t succeed that it’s not Mr. Wilson’s fault,” said Nix. “It’ll be our fault. But I think we can bring one in. It’s ego for all of us, but to take a team that’s down and build it into a winner will appeal to some people. The fan base here is phenomenal so I think that’s appealing, so yeah I think we can hire a good coach.” He said that he wants to hire a coach immediately, and re-assured that he is going to be aggressive in the search instead of sitting back and waiting for one to slip through the cracks.

When asked about what he looks for in a player, he said that it differs on the position and the situation. For example, he made it clear that he was not a fan of the way our current defense is built. Small, fast players may work for a dome team like Indy, but not outside in Western New York. Same goes for a QB. “You don’t bring a [QB] in here that [has] questionable arm strength.” His desire for toughness and tenacity is a fresh departure from what we’ve had in Buffalo in the past few drafts. As I said earlier, his first job will be to get the right head coach in here who can assemble a solid coaching staff that will fit the style of football he wants to have in Buffalo. Reports have linked Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Cowher, and most recently Brian Billick to the Buffalo job. Current NFL coordinators such as Brian Schottenheimer (Marty’s son), Leslie Frazier, and Russ Grimm are sure to be hot commodities this time of the year.

We’ll just have to wait and see who ends up in Buffalo. I know I would be content with Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer, or Billick since they bring the experience that Buffalo has sorely lacked. I agree with Buddy that we need a good teacher in a head coach and someone who can assemble a good coaching staff. I am tired of seeing the players stay indoors for practice, and be pampered on the way to yet another losing season.

We’ve got some talent on the roster, but we need some toughness. And I hope the next head coach of the Buffalo Bills brings that. Obviously the success of any franchise will be directly tied to its Quarterback, and after head coach that will be the priority of Mr. Nix. I’m still going to wait to endorse Buddy’s credentials drafts in Buffalo, but I would sure be happy with players the same caliber as Shawn Merriman and Philip Rivers. I was also impressed by his directness. I don’t know Buddy Nix at all, but it seems like what you see is what you get with him.