Chan Gailey’s three year run as head coach of the Buffalo Bills came to an end yesterday after the team’s third consecutive season without a winning record and 13th straight year without a playoff birth. Gailey finished with a record of 16-32 during his tenure and was cut loose after what looked to be a promising 2012 squad grossly underperformed to the tune of a 6-10 record. Examining the reasons for Gailey’s shortcomings may seem to be an exercise in futility but I’ve also been fond of George Santayana’s adage: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Gailey was anything but a popular choice when then recently hired General Manager Buddy Nix named him as his coach in January of 2010. Rumors ran rampant that Ralph Wilson was willing to dish out big money to attract a name like Shanahan, Cowher, or Gruden but in the end Nix and Wilson went with the low cost option of hiring Gailey. For a time after the dust settled on the Cowher talk and Shanahan went to the Redskins, the top candidate looked to be then-Vikings D-Coordinator Leslie Frazier. Wilson hired Gailey, Frazier stuck it out in Minnesota, was named interim head coach after Brad Childress was fired the next season and as the permanent head coach this season led an underdog team to the sixth and final NFC playoff spot on Sunday.
When Gailey signed on he didn’t have huge shoes to fill but he had an enormous task at hand, restoring hope in an exceedingly disgruntled fan base, rebuild a team that’s best player at the time arguably was Lee Evans and end a 10 year playoff drought. His first major decision as head coach was to switch to a 3-4 defense with not defined nose tackle and a linebacking corps that was one of the worst in the league. He added minor free agents in Andra Davis and Dwan Edwards in the offseason before drafting C.J. Spiller as his first pick at the helm with a stable of running backs that included former first round pick Marshawn Lynch and upstart workhorse Fred Jackson. The rest of the draft featured a slew of unheard of picks the likes of Torel Troup, Alex Carrington and Marcus Easley.