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Buffalo Bills News - January 16, 2004

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.'

Marker Bledsoe to remain Bills' starter next season [5:14 AM]
Niagara Gazette reports: '"He's going to be here, there's no question about it," Mularkey said at Thursday's press conference. "I had a conversation with Drew yesterday, and we seem to be on the same page."'

Marker Bills see Mularkey as Super choice [5:13 AM]
Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports: '"We said we would wait for the right guy," Donahoe said. "We got the right guy with Mike Mularkey."'

Marker LeBeau will return as defensive coordinator [5:12 AM]
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: It appears Cowher has won the tug of war with Buffalo to hire Dick LeBeau as his defensive coordinator as soon as today. LeBeau, who was defensive coordinator of the Steelers in the 1990s when he was an assistant coach under Cowher for five years, was the subject of intense salesmanship by the Steelers and new Bills coach Mike Mularkey, Cowher's former offensive coordinator.

Marker Donahoe no stranger to Mularkey's commitment [5:11 AM]
Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports: '"Mike's ability to understand players and understand players' abilities is so essential in the game today," Donahoe said. "That has always been one of Mike's strengths."'

Marker Steelers need LeBeau now more than ever [5:10 AM]
Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports: 'As for the loss of quarterbacks coach Tom Clements (Buffalo, offensive coordinator), that would have been much more of a concern if the Steelers were still trying to turn Kordell Stewart into a quarterback. So, it all comes back to LeBeau. If it's money he wants, pony up. If it's defensive autonomy he needs, guarantee it. Coach LeBeau is the key.'

Marker Right-hand man [5:09 AM]
Washington Times reports: 'Williams, 45, is certainly the best-paid defensive mind in the game. The $1.8 million he'll earn as Washington's defensive coordinator in 2004 is $800,000 more than he made as the Buffalo Bills' head coach in 2003.'

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