AFC East: Bob Bicknell

Gailey's staff looks thin on experience

February, 10, 2010
Now that new Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey has essentially assembled his staff, I thought it would be worthwhile to present a snapshot of who they are.

You'll notice a couple blanks still need to be filled in. The Bills have yet to designate a defensive line or linebackers coach and could have other openings on the staff. For example, they could choose to break up inside and outside linebackers.

The Bills have two defensive assistants who haven't been assigned duties. Bob Sanders and Giff Smith have experience coaching the defensive line. Sanders did it last year, but he also coached linebackers for the Miami Dolphins.

What stands out to me is the lack of NFL experience throughout the staff.

Defensive backs coach George Catavolos has banked 26 years in that role. Special-teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven has put in 23 years. But there's a huge drop from there.

Gailey has gathered acquaintances from his days at Georgia Tech and assistants he identified as up-and-comers during his brief stay with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gailey will have at least eight assistants with two or fewer years of NFL experience in the positions they will hold with the Bills. At least four of them will have zero seasons of NFL experience in their given role.

That's not to say they're all neophytes.

One of those first-timers is veteran quarterbacks coach George Cortez, who has spent more than three decades coaching at colleges and in the Canadian Football League.

They might all be fine teachers, but I think it's fair to wonder how these coaches will handle the fast-paced, high-pressure setting of an NFL sideline on Sunday afternoons.

Gailey's staff takes shape in Buffalo

January, 27, 2010
At his introductory news conference, Chan Gailey warned Buffalo Bills fans he probably wouldn't hire many assistants they'd heard of.

He wasn't lying.

The Bills announced on Wednesday Gailey has brought in five assistants and has retained two holdovers from last year's coaching staff.

New to the team are offensive coordinator and running backs coach Curtis Modkins, tight ends coach Bob Bicknell, offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris, offensive quality control assistant Kevin Patullo and defensive assistant Giff Smith.

Since Gailey intends to handle the play-calling duties, the most significant vacancy remains defensive coordinator.

"Right now we are happy with the coaches that we have been able to get on the staff," Gailey said in a statement released by the Bills. "Ultimately, we want to make sure we get the right guys: great teachers, great communicators and the right kind of people for the Bills. These coaches give us a great start in that direction."

All except Smith worked with Gailey when he was offensive coordinator if the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008.

Modkins was the Arizona Cardinals' running backs coach this past season. Bicknell coached the Chiefs' tight ends, while D'Alessandris assisted the Chiefs' O-line coach.

Patullo handled offensive quality control in Kansas City, but was out of the NFL last year.

Smith hasn't coached in the NFL. He served on Gailey's staff at Georgia Tech. Smith coached the defensive line and oversaw recruiting.

Secondary coach George Catavolos and defensive line coach Bob Sanders are the holdovers.

Catavolos oversaw the NFL's second-ranked pass defense. The Bills also finished second with 28 interceptions.