With Presidents it's their first 100 days; the three-plus months in which they begin to formulate their policy and shape major decisions.
With the Buffalo Bills' new administration, President-GM Tom Donahoe and his freshly-named coach, Gregg Williams, the first 100 days apparently have been converted to the first breakfast.
It seems as if the building of a staff, the remaking of the offense, the direction of the defense and the settlement of the forever-running quarterback controversy may have been resolved between the orange juice and scrambled eggs Friday morning.
Defensive coordinator? Presto. Jerry Gray, the Tennessee Titans' defensive backfield coach under Williams. Without making a formal announcement, the Bills' new coach predicted Gray would some day be "standing up here, at a podium while the nation watches him become an NFL head coach."
Offensive coordinator? That one's not as set. But the fact Williams' list includes Kevin Gilbride is an indication of the direction he's headed. Gilbride was the Oilers' offensive coordinator when they were breaking in Williams as their quality-control man.
The direction of the defense? Some 3-4, the Bills' old base formation, plus the 4-3 and plenty of Buddy Ryan's old "46," the scheme which made the Chicago Bears monsters of the mid '80s and the scourge of NFL quarterbacks.
Williams is a "46," guy; a disciple of Jeff Fisher, the Titans' head coach and former defensive coordinator, who is a disciple of Ryan's. "People ask me why more teams don't use the "46" as their base," said Williams. "The reason is that only Buddy, Jeff, myself and maybe Buddy's two sons know how to run it. If the sons don't, they will by the time they're coordinators."
Information came gushing out of both Williams and Donahoe as they made their way among the TV and radio interviewers.
One interviewer barely got the question: "what sort of offen. . ." when Williams answered "The West Coast offense." He likes the idea of a fast-paced short-passing offense which, "along with a power-running attack," can control the ball and rest a vitally-important defense.
Significantly, the new coach added "the ball gets delivered before even an unblocked pass rusher can get to the quarterback."
Meanwhile, Donahoe was revealing that his interviews with Bills' players and remaining coaches confirmed the quarterback situation was divisive. The new boss said there wasn't enough cap room to accommodate both Flutie and Johnson. One has to go.
Passes delivered before unblocked rushers reach the quarterback? West-Coast offense? Power running attack? Structured offense. Someone in the Gilbride mold as offensive coordinator? Let's put two and two together here.
The envelope please! Ladies and gentleman, your quarterback for the 2001 Buffalo Bills. . . . Rob Johnson!
The mere mention of Gilbride's name was enough to arrive at the conclusion Johnson was the chosen one. Kevin was Johnson's guru with the Jacksonville Jaguars when his brief play in relief of Mark Brunell had coaches all over the NFL lusting to deal for him.
Williams also acknowledged that a full-blast teaching job would be necessary to get Johnson's psyche in shape to return to the starting lineup in the new attack. Not putting him in empty backfield and running plays which take too long to develop for him to emerge unscathed should help.
About that power running game, Williams, who plotted defenses against the Bills in the playoff game they should have won and last season's opener, which they did, said he learned to like several Buffalo ball carriers. The expectation is that Sammie Morris and Shawn Bryson were among them.
But don't be surprised if Antowain Smith gets an application to renew his career. There were moments in the playoff loss in Nashville two seasons ago when Antowain ran all over Williams' defense. He's also a University of Houston product and both Williams and Ronnie Vinklarek, a current Titan aide who may soon be on the Buffalo staff, worked for the Cougars. Vinklarek, in fact, may be the Bills' next offensive line coach. He coached the offensive lines at both the University of Houston and Oklahoma State.
Flutie? He's all but gone from Buffalo, but fear not Flutie fans. Chances are he'll end up in Tampa Bay with the Bucs and a possible shot at Super Bowl XXXVI. They're a team on the verge. The Bills aren't.