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Buffalo Bills News - January 17, 2004

Marker Bills lose LeBeau, retain Gray [5:20 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: 'Gray, who was rumored to be interested in returning to his alma mater, the University of Texas, to be the Longhorns’ defensive coordinator, said he was more than pleased to return under Mularkey as the defensive coordinator. “To me, I went into the process thinking it was an honor,” Gray said of being interviewed by general manager Tom Donahoe. “I knew it was a long shot to get the head coaching job so it wasn’t a letdown. After we found out that Mike was going to be hired, I didn’t know if I’d have a chance to stay here or not. I knew our defense performed well and hopefully the guy would give me a chance. It just so happened that things fell right.”'

Marker Mularkey a comfortable fit for Bills and fans [5:19 AM]
Medina Journal Register reports: 'Western New Yorkers will love him in time. Not only is the approach blue collar, but so is the man behind it.'

Marker Gibbs to Count On 'Character' Players [5:15 AM]
Washington Post reports: 'The Redskins also have been interested in Bills defensive line coach Tim Krumrie and linebackers coach Don Blackmon. LeBeau's departure means Washington has a shot at signing Krumrie. The assistant was considered a lock to remain in Buffalo if LeBeau stayed there: Krumrie was a defensive line coach under LeBeau in Cincinnati from 1997 to 2002. Mularkey hasn't announced his decision on Blackmon and Krumrie. And Gibbs -- who is considering New York Giants running back coach Eric Studesville -- is eager to find out.'

Marker Character the deciding factor for Mularkey [5:13 AM]
Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports: 'But now, Donahoe has Mularkey and offensive coordinator Tom Clements, formerly the Steelers' quarterbacks coach, in charge of the offense. Clements was a leading candidate for the same job two years ago, but Williams insisted on hiring Kevin Gilbride. Gilbride has failed to properly fit quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe of the Bills and Kordell Stewart of the Steelers into his offensive system, but Donahoe defended him. "Kevin has gotten a lot of criticism (in Buffalo)," he said, "and it wasn't all Kevin. I thought there were things that the head coach should have stepped in and controlled better than he controlled it."'

Marker LeBeau returns to Steelers as defensive coordinator [5:12 AM]
Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports: 'Dick LeBeau could have joined Mike Mularkey's coaching staff in Buffalo as the defensive coordinator. If so, he would have had a lesser shadow lurking over his shoulder. Instead, LeBeau chose a similar and, perhaps, a more challenging path with the Steelers, opting to reunite with coach Bill Cowher's strong personality, notable defensive mind and many more years of experience. Friday, LeBeau become the new coordinator in Pittsburgh, replacing the fired Tim Lewis.'

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January 16, 2004

Marker Bills retain Gray as defensive coordinator [7:12 PM]
The Sports Network reports: 'Since Gray has been the coordinator, the Bills have improved from 21st defensively in his first year to 14th in 2002 and second this past season.'

Marker Tip Sheet: Henning had right approach with QB [7:11 PM]
ESPN reports: One guess on who could be the most improved player under the Mularkey system: Two-year veteran wide receiver Josh Reed, who caught just 58 passes and scored only two times in '03, after replacing Peerless Price as a starter

Marker Gray To Stay As Defensive Coordinator [6:40 PM]
WGR-AM reports: Gray has been the Bills defensive coordinator for the past three seasons. The defense had its best season under Gray in 2003, ranking second overall in the league.

Marker Steelers named LeBeau defensive coordinator [6:40 PM]
Sportsticker reports: "One of the attractions to me being in Pittsburgh was the fact that philosophically, Bill and I have always been on the same page, and that is to attack," he said. "We will be a pressure defense and I know the head coach feels that way, too."

Marker Bills retain Gray as defensive coordinator [2:52 PM]
AP reports: 'Gray's unit ranked second in defense this season, and allowed the fifth fewest points per game in the league.'

Marker Gray To Remain Defensive Coordinator [1:33 PM] reports: '“We are very pleased that Jerry Gray has accepted the offer to continue as the Bills Defensive Coordinator,” said Mularkey. “Jerry has done an outstanding job with our defense and last year’s league rankings are a good measure of his abilities as a defensive coordinator.”'

Marker Ex-Longhorn Gray staying with Bills [1:11 PM]
Dallas Morning News reports: 'Former Texas All-American safety Jerry Gray will continue as Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator under new coach Mike Mularkey, the Bills announced Friday, ending the possibility of Gray joining Mack Brown’s staff as defensive coordinator at Texas.'

Marker LeBeau Accepts Coordinator Position In Pittsburgh [1:10 PM] reports: 'The 2004 season will mark the 46th in the NFL for LeBeau, who played 14 years as a defensive back and has been a coach in the league for the last 30.'

Marker No Mularkey from Mike ... just what Bills’ fans wanted [12:41 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'He avoided the immediate error Williams made ... self-confidence that came off as arrogance and spawned some ridiculous predictions. But the main reason Williams is no longer coach of the Bills is that he did a poor job of selecting assistants. They weren’t all duds, of course. But for every Dick LeBeau and Jerry Gray there was a Kevin Gilbride and Mike Sheppard. There were just too many Pat Reuls and Ronnie Vinklareks ... overmatched assistants in charge of critical positions.'

Marker LeBeau returns to Pittsburgh as defensive coordinator [11:40 AM]
The Sports Network reports: '"I am very excited to return to Pittsburgh and rejoin coach Bill and a defense that plays hard," said LeBeau.'

Marker Familiar Coach Returns to Steelers [11:28 AM] reports: '“Dick LeBeau is a quality coach who is well respected not only here in Pittsburgh but around the National Football League,” said Cowher. “Dick’s ability to communicate to and teach players, along with his knowledge of our defense, make it exciting to reunite with him."'

Marker LeBeau chooses Steelers over Bills [11:25 AM]
AP reports: '``Pittsburgh is like going home,'' LeBeau said Friday. ``I was at the Pitt basketball game Monday night and 25 people came up to me and wished me good luck and said, 'Come on back.' I thought, 'This is pretty neat.''''

Marker Bills' new man has a plan [8:52 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"Our philosophy is basically this," the 42-year-old Mularkey said. "It's a methodical, time-of-possession, wear-you-down approach, which may not happen until a certain point, but you will wear down. Try to control the football. I like to think your offense can be your best defense if you can keep your defense off the field. Control the football and score points in the red zone. I'm not a big stat guy and we were low in ranking in the red zone. But we were down there a lot. That's not a bad problem to have. Controlling the football is something that I think is important in this league."'

Marker Bledsoe excited about future [8:51 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I only know of him from afar and by reputation, but just from watching what the Steelers have done, I know he's a guy who is very creative but he makes things fairly simple for his players. The Steelers have been a hard offense to nail down for opposing defenses, but he still does it within a system that makes it easy for the players to execute."'

Marker Donahoe has been longtime fan of Mularkey [8:50 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"In today's football, you really have to understand what you have and what you don't have," Donahoe said. "You sort of have to coach to your strengths - not sort of, you do. That was a criticism that I felt was justified with our team this year. I'm not sure we played to the strengths of our team."'

Marker Mularkey impresses, hands down [8:49 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'A real tough guy doesn't need to advertise. Something tells me that's who walked in to town Thursday, a genuinely tough, secure man. Mularkey looks you straight in the eye when he talks to you. You sense that beneath the low-key exterior is a contained fury, a brimming self-confidence.'

Marker Bulletin board [8:48 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Several former Buffalo Bills will be on hand Sunday in the Buffalo Marriott, 1340 Millersport Highway in Amherst, to watch football with fans and raise money for the Buffalo Bills Alumni Foundation.'

Marker The winds of change whip at Steelers [8:38 AM]
Beaver County Times reports: 'It also appears that Cowher will hire either 66-year-old Dick LeBeau or 54-year-old Greg Blache as his new defensive coordinator. Both were interviewed by Cowher on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.'

Marker Steelers' coaching exodus continues as Robinson and Clements leave town [8:36 AM]
Washington Observer Reporter reports: 'Interestingly enough, the Steelers are caught in something of a bidding war with the Bills for LeBeau's services. LeBeau, a former defensive coordinator under Cowher, was assistant head coach in Buffalo last season and helped the Bills draw up their defensive game plans. He is currently not under contract with the Bills, but Mularkey has expressed an interest in having him return.'

Marker Buffalo hires tough new coach to fix offensive woes [5:20 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: '“We wanted to get a head coach who we felt could be a strong leader. Toughness was an issue with us,” said Donahoe. “The other thing is that in today’s football you have to understand what you have and don’t have and you have to coach to your strengths. That was a criticism that I felt was justified with our team this year. I’m not sure we played to the strengths of our team, and I feel confident that with Mike we’ll do that."'

Marker New mechanic will rev up cold offense [5:19 AM]
Rochester D & C reports: '“We’re probably going to take a step back (by simplifying things) to take two steps forward offensively here. I know they had great success two years ago. Once the staff is put in place, and the guys who come in here can look at the tapes like I have and give their opinion on it, (we’ll go forward). But no, I think you can win with Drew Bledsoe.”'

Marker Bills GM likes coach's intensity [5:18 AM]
Rochester D & C reports: 'Those who saw Mularkey play tight end at the University of Florida and for nine years in the NFL — six with the Minnesota Vikings and three with the Pittsburgh Steelers — will tell you that it takes a lot more than frostbite conditions or broken bones to get him flustered. Though reared in Miami Dolphins country (Bills fans will be pleased to hear that he didn’t root for the Fish), he is more Rust Belt than South Beach.'

Marker Mularkey youngest, best-paid Bills coach [5:17 AM]
Rochester D & C reports: 'The length of Mularkey’s deal is also a team record. His predecessor, Gregg Williams, had a three-year deal that averaged about $1 million a season but he originally was offered four- and five-year packages.'

Marker Two new offensive assistants on board [5:16 AM]
Rochester D & C reports: 'McNally was born and raised in the Buffalo suburb of Kenmore and is known to be thrilled with the chance to come home and coach the team he rooted for as a kid in the 1960s. He brings an impressive resume. One of the most respected offensive line coaches in the league, he coached Cincinnati’s offensive line for 15 years and helped the Bengals to a pair of Super Bowl appearances, tutoring Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz along the way. McNally then worked in Carolina for four years and went to the NFC Championship Game with the expansion Panthers, and for the last five years he has been with the Giants and went to the Super Bowl three years ago.'

Marker Mularkey brings mental toughness to Bills [5:15 AM]
Niagara Gazette reports: 'Both Buffalo Bills general manager Tom Donahoe and new head coach Mike Mularkey say in terms of pure physical talent, the Bills are almost where they need to be. But to become a playoff contender and eventually reach the pinnacle -- the Super Bowl -- both believe a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the team's mental focus.'

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09/11 @ Baltimore Ravens 1:00 pm
09/15 New York Jets 8:25 pm
09/25 Arizona Cardinals 1:00 pm
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11/07 @ Seattle Seahawks 8:30 pm
11/20 @ Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 pm
11/27 Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 pm
12/4 @ Oakland Raiders 4:05 pm
12/11 Pittsburgh Steelers 1:00 pm
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01/01 @ New York Jets 1:00 pm

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