Jan 2, 2015 1:31 PM

AP source: Bills GM Whaley heading coaching search

The Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Bills first-time general manager Doug Whaley is heading the team's coaching search.

And San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich is on the list of candidates, a person familiar with the search told The Associated Press on Friday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills have not outlined their plans to replace Doug Marrone, who abruptly left the team on Wednesday.

The search's first stop will take the Bills to Denver, where they are scheduled to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase on Saturday. Buffalo is one of four teams to express interest in Gase, who has spent the past two years overseeing a Peyton Manning-led offense that has been among the NFL's most potent attacks.

Gase is available to be interviewed in Denver during the Broncos' weekend off, before they prepare to host an AFC Divisional playoff game on Jan. 11. He cannot be hired until Denver is finished playing.

An interview with Reich is in the process of being scheduled, the person said.

Reich is very familiar to Buffalo. The former quarterback spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the Bills, and served as a dependable backup to Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.

Joining Whaley in the search will be team president Russ Brandon, who will serve as an adviser.

No timetable has been established to find a coach, who will have to be approved by new Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

This is the sixth time the Bills are seeking a new coach since Wade Phillips was fired following the 2000 season.

For the second-year GM, this will be his first time leading a search, which comes at a tumultuous time for the franchise.

The Bills' hierarchy is in flux despite the team's 9-7 finish, which matched their best record in 10 years. Buffalo, however, did miss the playoffs to extend the NFL's longest active postseason drought to 15 years.

Marrone's departure caught the team off guard after he exercised the opt-out clause in his contract. The second-year coach chose to step down and collect a $4 million guaranteed salary in part because he was unsure whether the Pegulas were going to restructure their front office.

On Thursday, Bill Polian informed the Pegulas that he was not interested in returning to his former team as a consultant or in a role overseeing the Bills football operations.

Polian's decision to continue working as an NFL TV and radio broadcaster was a setback for the Pegulas, who purchased the franchise in October from the estate of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson, who died in March. The Pegulas, who also own the NHL Buffalo Sabres, are new to the NFL and were hoping to add a veteran presence to the Bills' front office.

Reich was most memorably the starter in Buffalo's 41-38 overtime win over the Houston Oilers in an AFC wild-card playoff on Jan. 3, 1993. The Bills rallied from a 35-3 third-quarter deficit, which stands as the largest deficit any NFL team has overcome.

Reich completed his second season with San Diego, and first as a coordinator. He oversaw a Philip Rivers-led attack that finished 18th in the NFL in yards gained and 17th in points.

Reich previously spent four seasons as an offensive assistant in Indianapolis, where he also worked with Manning. In 2012, Reich was a receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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