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Bills do the expected by firing Rick Dennison

Fans and members of the media made their feelings known early and often throughout the season.

Sean McDermott couldn't conceal having a similar sentiment after the Buffalo Bills' 10-3 wild-card playoff loss at Jacksonville last Sunday.

And when the coach punted on a chance to say he was keeping Rick Dennison as his offensive coordinator during last Tuesday's season-ending news conference, it seemed only a matter of time before Dennison would be fired. That time came Friday, when, as first reported by The Buffalo News, the Bills announced they were parting ways with him after only one year on the job.

A replacement was not immediately named, and the Bills did not make McDermott available to the media to discuss the move.

Five times OC Rick Dennison made Bills fans scratch their heads

The offense was a disaster during the 2017 season. It ranked 29th overall in the NFL and 31st in passing. Thanks mainly to the remarkable talent of LeSean McCoy, the team ranked sixth in rushing, though it slipped from its No. 1 perch of the previous two seasons. The Bills also scored a mere 28 offensive touchdowns after generating 40 in 2016.

Dennison came under heavy criticism for his play-calling decisions. The final straw might very well have been giving quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who also regressed under Dennison’s watch, the option to throw on first-and-goal from the 1 in last Sunday’s 10-3 wild-card playoff loss at Jacksonville. Rather than run, Taylor attempted a pass to Kelvin Benjamin that was incomplete and also resulted in an offensive pass-interference penalty. The Bills wound up settling for a field goal.

McDermott said after the game it was a call the team would like to have back, a rare finger-pointing moment for the head coach. But the finger was unmistakably pointed right at Dennison.

"I am proud to be a part of a group that worked so hard and did something that hadn't been done in a long time," Dennison told The News.

The Bills now will be hiring their fourth offensive coordinator since 2014. The other two were Greg Roman, who was fired after two games of his second season on the job in 2016, and Anthony Lynn, who replaced Roman and became the Bills' interim coach for one game after Rex Ryan was fired. Lynn went on to become head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.

Whoever gets the job is likely to be working with a new quarterback. Tyrod Taylor is not expected to return to the team.

The Bills still have Nathan Peterman, whom they made a fifth-round draft pick last year, but their starter in 2018 will likely either be a high draft pick to which the Bills, who have the 21st and 22nd overall picks, maneuver via trade or someone they sign in free agency. Given the Bills' intention to have a veteran quarterback on the team, with or without Taylor, they might acquire one to serve as a "bridge" to give a rookie time to develop.

Sully's Mailbag: Bills wise to unload Dennison

One thing is certain: the Bills won't be lacking for candidates to become their new offensive coordinator.

Although Mike McCoy was widely considered a favorite, he is out of the running, according to an NFL source. He was considered McDermott's No. 1 choice for the job last year before McCoy chose, instead, to join the Denver Broncos. However, the Broncos fired him on Nov. 20.

5 options for a new Bills offensive coordinator

Another name often mentioned as a potential Dennison replacement is Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, because he and McDermott remain close friends since their days with the Carolina Panthers, when Chudzinski was their OC and McDermott was their defensive coordinator. McDermott has gushed publicly about the outstanding work Chudzinski has done in the league, including when he worked with quarterback Cam Newton in Carolina.

Although the Colts fired head coach Chuck Pagano, Chudzinski remains under contract with them. Whether Chudzinski becomes available will be at the discretion of whoever the Colts hire as their next head coach. Chudzinski would have definite interest in being reunited with McDermott, but it is known that he and his family are happy living in Indianapolis and would likely relish the chance to stay there if at all possible.

Another available offensive coordinator with a Carolina connection with McDermott is Mike Shula, whom the Panthers fired Tuesday and replaced Thursday with Norv Turner. Later Tuesday, the Seattle Seahawks their fired their OC, Darrell Bevell, whom the Bills interviewed for their head-coaching vacancy after the 2014 season before hiring Ryan.

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