Bills make choice on offensive coordinator

NFL Buffalo
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DENVER, CO – JANUARY 1: Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison of the Denver Broncos during pregame warmups before playing the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Mike McCoy went to Denver. 

Anthony Lynn got his own head coaching job. 

Brad Childress and Norv Turner were never really interested. 

None of the “big names” were coming to Buffalo to be the Bills offensive coordinator. 

So, Sean McDermott picked a bit of a surprise. 

Rick Dennison is the Bills’ new offensive boss. 

Like the rest of McDermott’s hires, Dennison brings boatloads of experience. Sort of. 

This will be the fourth time Dennison has held the title of offensive coordinator, but seemingly, it will be the first time he calls plays. 

Dennison’s last two stops as OC were under head coach Gary Kubiak in Houston (2010-13) and Denver (2015-16). In both places, Kubiak mostly called the plays. 

Last year in Denver, Dennison said in October it was a “committee” approach between himself, Kubiak and quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp. 

Dennison’s first offensive coordinator stint was also in Denver from 2006-08 under Mike Shanahan. Neither Shanahan nor Dennison reportedly called plays. It was quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. 

Kubiak missed a game last season due to health issues and was fired in Houston three games before the end of the year in 2013. In those four games, Dennison took over play-calling duties. 

Assumably, he’ll call 16 games worth of plays for the Bills in 2017. 

Dennison’s offenses have largely succeeded. 

The last two seasons in Denver were mediocre at best, but his first three Texans offenses were top ten in rushing yards. Two were top ten overall. 

Those three seasons coincided with the rise of Arian Foster at running back. Foster was over 1200 yards all three years and Houston won two division titles. 

Foster played only eight games in 2013 when the Texans fell to 2-14. Kubiak and Dennison both were fired. 

Before that, Dennison’s three offenses during his first run in Denver were all at least top 12 in rushing. 

The 2008 squad was second in the NFL overall, but the Broncos lost their last three games and blew a three-game division lead. 

Shanahan was fired and Josh McDaniels demoted Dennison to offensive line coach. 

Dennison’s one other season in the last decade not as offensive coordinator could bode well for Tyrod Taylor’s chances of staying in Buffalo. 

In 2014, Dennison was the quarterbacks coach in Baltimore under Kubiak as offensive coordinator. That was also Taylor’s last season as a Raven backing up Joe Flacco. 

The next season when Dennison and Kubiak went to Denver, the Broncos were reportedly one of the teams wooing Taylor in free agency. Denver was thought to be inquiring about Taylor before the 2016 season. 

Ironically, Dennison was a linebacker in his NFL playing days after running at tight end in college.

He did nine seasons with the Broncos and played in two Super Bowls as a teammate of Kubiak and John Elway. 

His first 15 seasons as a coach were all spent in Denver. He was the special teams coach for the franchise’s first two Super Bowl wins after the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Dennison, obviously, helped the Broncos to another title last year. 

Dennison is originally from Montana and will turn 59 this summer. 

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