Bills next-to-last in ESPN's NFL continuity ranking - The Buffalo News
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Bills next-to-last in ESPN's NFL continuity ranking

The Buffalo Bills have earned a dubious distinction from veteran ESPN NFL senior writer Mike Sando.

In ranking all of the league's 32 franchises based on continuity, Sando put the Bills at 31. The Cleveland Browns finished last.

Sando mainly based the list on how many different general managers, coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, and primary quarterbacks each team has had since 2012.

He points out that in that span, the defending Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots have had three men in those roles in that span (with coach Bill Belichick also serving as de facto GM) while 31 other teams have combined for nearly 300 in those roles.

Not surprisingly, the Patriots are first on the list. The Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, and Minnesota Vikings round out the top 10.

Sando says there was additional consideration for roster continuity beyond quarterback based on the number of starters used by each team (a range of 77-137), the number of players who started at least one game in three of the past five seasons (a range of 22-33), and the number of players who logged at least 2,000 snaps for teams while still on the roster in 2016 (a range of 3-17).

This is what he had to say about the Bills:

'The Bills have had nine offensive and defensive coordinators since 2012, most in the league. They have had four head coaches, tied with the Browns and 49ers for the most. Buffalo's number of primary quarterbacks will jump from three to four if Tyrod Taylor does not return.

"The Bills are not alone in the AFC East. They have combined with the Jets and Dolphins to employ 38 GMs, head coaches and coordinators (since 2012). Three men -- Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels -- have filled those roles for New England during the same period."

For their part, Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula have preached continuity. They can't be blamed for Doug Marrone's decision to exercise an escape clause that allowed him to walk away as head coach after the 2014 season while collecting $4 million. That was a circumstance they inherited when they acquired the team, on Oct. 10, 2014, from the estate of Bills founder Ralph Wilson.

However, Marrone's successor, Rex Ryan, was their hire. And one game before the end of his second season with the Bills, Ryan was fired, with three years left on his guaranteed contract. Terry Pegula has not given a specific reason for firing Ryan, but the coach did fall short of his promises to lead the Bills to the playoffs (they were 8-8 in 2015 and 7-9 in 2016; 7-8 under Ryan) with a top-ranked defense (they finished 19th in yards allowed the past two seasons).

In an effort to maintain a semblance of continuity, the Pegulas retained GM Doug Whaley and kept their player-personnel staff intact.

However, in hiring Sean McDermott as their third head coach in four seasons, they also have brought aboard a new offensive coordinator (Rick Dennison) and defensive coordinator (Leslie Frazier), as well as 18 news assistant coaches.

Not exactly a shining example of continuity.

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