AFC East: Gailey hired 10
That means a lot of the questions I solicited from you in the morning were rendered moot. General manager Buddy Nix stood on the podium with Gailey at One Bills Drive in a session that addressed many of the questions you deposited in the comments section.
randalstroup: Give us one reason to be excited about this move. What does Gailey bring that hasn't been here the last 10-15 years?
Gailey: "Well, if you don't believe in yourself and you don't believe in the people that you're going to bring in and the way you're going to run a football team, then you shouldn't be standing up here in the first place. And probably every one of those guys believed in what they were going to do. And I certainly do, myself, believe that. You can't promise in this league. There's 31 other teams out there that are trying to do the same thing that you are doing. Nobody, nobody can.
"You can't take me for my word because we haven't done it yet. I understand that. So all you can do is understand who we are, what we're about, what we're trying to get done and you can hope, fans can hope and expect and that's a big difference because I learned from a coach way back, there's two types of coaches: those who hope to win and those who expect to win. I've been around enough winning and enough winning programs and enough winning organizations that when I walk on the field I expect to win, I don't just hope to win. I expect to win."
jsnynole: What type of football does he think would be most successful in Buffalo?
Gailey: "I believe you've got to run the football. You've got to be able to run it. Now, you don't have to lead the league in rushing to win football games. You don't need to lead the league in passing to win football games. You've got to be smart. You've got to move the football, be intelligent with how you try to score points each and every week and that's what we’ll try to do."
tourneypredictor: Will Gailey be the head coach and offensive coordinator?
Gailey: "I will do both. I may have a guy that has the title of offensive coordinator, but I'm going to run the offense to start with. If you want to get it the way you believe it needs to be done from the start, then you need to do it. Mess around here and try to make this mesh with that, you have to get it the way you want it and what you believe in. That's what I plan to do. That way, even if as time goes on, I distance myself a little bit from it -- I'm talking about years, not days or months -- I'll still have the basis of it and know exactly what's going on so that I can correct it and do whatever needs to be done to get it right if it's not right."
davidgirard55: Please ask Chan if he will bring accountability to players who underperform.
Gailey: "I believe in organization, removing the grey area as much as you possibly can. ... Once everybody has their role defined, once everybody has exactly what they're trying to get done explained to them perfectly, then there's accountability -- for everybody, from the top to the bottom for everybody that's involved in winning football games.
"I believe in character. I believe we're going to try to get our guys to understand how important it is to do things the right way both on and off the field. It's for the good of the team, and it's for the longevity of their careers."
There will be a different atmosphere in the Buffalo Bills' locker room for 2010.
"He's all about creating an environment conducive to winning," said ESPN analyst Herm Edwards, who hired Gailey to be his offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. "He doesn't care if you make $4 million a year or if you're a rookie. He's going to tell you, 'This is what you got to do to help this football team win.'
"You know when he comes in, guys are not going to get along with him, and there are guys he's going to get rid of."
Bill Cowher is a huge fan of Gailey's from their time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gailey was the offensive coordinator in 1996 and 1997 before becoming Dallas Cowboys head coach.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Cowher recommended Gailey for the job while the Bills were pursuing Cowher.
"I think the one thing you'll see is he's very passionate," Cowher said. "He's an unbelievable competitor. Chan's a guy that will leave no stone unturned. He will not accept mediocrity. And I think that's the thing, being around him ... I always thought I was a competitive guy, but he may be more competitive than I am. And I'll tell you, he's a very driven coach and, like I said, very thorough. I just think he's a great fit for the organization."
Gailey spoke about his philosophies in turning around a franchise that hasn't reached the playoffs in a decade.
"I believe you have to be fundamentally sound. I think you have to teach fundamentals. I worked for a guy way back when I first started coaching, he had a great saying, and the saying was plays are more fun than fundamentals, but fundamentals are more important than plays. ... What wins the majority of the time is blocking and tackling and throwing and catching and kicking. That's what wins games. So I believe in fundamentals and teaching fundamentals and being fundamentally sound.
"I believe in toughness and discipline. This is a tough game for tough people. This is a disciplined game as well. You can't just go out there and be a tough guy and run around wildly. You've got to be disciplined. But you can't be so disciplined that you play under control. You've got to have some toughness to you. So that's a fine line. You've got to talk about those two terms in the same breath.
"I believe in organization, removing the gray area as much as you possibly can. ... Once everybody has their role defined, once everybody has exactly what they're trying to get done explained to them perfectly, then there's accountability -- for everybody, from the top to the bottom for everybody that's involved in winning football games.
"Last but not least, I believe in character. I believe we're going to try to get our guys to understand how important it is to do things the right way both on and off the field. It's for the good of the team, and it's for the longevity of their careers."
Yes, Marshawn Lynch. We're looking at you.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson, however, wasn't interested, sources close to Schottenheimer informed me Tuesday after the club introduced Chan Gailey as their man.
Schottenheimer had a strong desire to return to coaching after three years away from the sidelines and had an ally in former Bills general manager Buddy Nix. They became close while working together with the San Diego Chargers.
Schottenheimer played linebacker four seasons with the Bills, winning an AFL title with them in 1965.
But the Bills couldn't consider Schottenheimer a candidate because Wilson wasn't comfortable with him, the sources said.
Schottenheimer has a 200-126-1 record as head coach for the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and Chargers. He took his teams to the playoffs 12 times, but owns a 5-13 record there.
The Bills did extend an interview request to Schottenheimer's son, New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The Jets granted permission last week, but Brian Schottenheimer declined the invitation.
Gailey took over a star-studded (if aging) Cowboys team coming off a 6-10 season and led them to the playoffs in 1998 and 1999. Owner Jerry Jones was so impressed with Gailey's 18-14 record that he fired him after a playoff loss to the Vikings and replaced him with Dave Campo. No one really likes to say this in polite company, but quarterback Troy Aikman clashed with Gailey and wanted him gone. And Jones didn't hesitate in pulling the trigger. Here's what Jones said at the time:
"This decision I had to make is about football,'' Jones said in Jan. 2000. ''It wasn't about egos. Chan Gailey, relative to when he accepted this job, burned the midnight oil. He worked hard, he was diligent, he was honest. He did everything I imagined."
And it turns out that Jones was still thinking about the Gailey firing when he decided to retain Wade Phillips following the '08 season's December-January collapse. Something about continuity. Here's what Jones said about his decision to fire Gailey earlier this month:
"The most unfair that I've ever been in anything in sports and maybe in other parts was dismissing Chan after two years," Jones said. "That wasn't right. ... That is one thing I look at today in my mirror and say you just weren't as fair as you needed to be there to the team, the fans and certainly to Chan to make that change after two years."
So there you have it. The lesson Jones learned from the Gailey firing is one of the main reasons Phillips is still around. That and the fact that Jones hates the idea of coaches sitting at home while he pays them $3 million. And by the way, Gailey was making $500,000 per year as the head coach of the Cowboys when he was fired in 2000.
The club's offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, makes roughly $3 million per year now. For any Bills fans who may stumble onto this blog, Gailey is a remarkably nice man. He has no business being a head coach in this league, but I can pretty much assure you that he won't be accused of striking an assistant coach at any point in the near future.
If I'm someone like Leslie Frazier, this hire really ticks me off. Some of these assistants have worked their tails off to position themselves for a head-coaching opportunity. And they're passed over for a man who flamed out in Dallas a decade ago.
At Tuesday afternoon's introductory news conference, Nix explained how Gailey fit the criteria: head coaching experience, an offensive mind with a track record of developing quarterbacks and character.
Nix then stiffarmed criticism of the hire after a two-month hunt that included several rejections along the way.
"I want you to know, with all due respect, I don't care," Nix said. "It don't bother me. I mean, everybody's got an opinion. You guys got a job to do, and I'm trying not to make it difficult.
"But my job is to get us the best guy to help us win games. And we found that guy. This guy met more of the criteria that I ever hoped we'd find. This guy's won everywhere he's been."
As much as Nix tried to make it seem like he was the natural selection, Gailey acknowledged he wasn't first choice for what Rochester Democrat & Chronicle columnist Leo Roth called "the Siberia of the NFL."
"I can't speak for other folks," Gailey replied, "but, shoot, you look at the history of the Buffalo Bills, and I've come in that stadium enough times to know about the fans of the Bills Nation. Who wouldn't want to come here?
"Maybe some guys had some personal reasons they didn't want to come here. Great! I'm glad because I get to come here."
Neither Bills owner Ralph Wilson nor chief executive officer Russ Brandon attended the news conference. That left Nix to address all the snubs. Nix claimed 80 percent of the reports were inaccurate but refused to go on the record about who specifically did or did not decline interview requests or reported offers.
Gailey has waited 11 years to become an NFL head coach again. He guided the Dallas Cowboys in 1998 and 1999. Only Art Shell and Joe Gibbs waited longer -- a dozen years apiece -- in between head-coaching gigs since 1980.
Gailey didn't coach in 2009. Kansas City Chiefs rookie head coach Todd Haley fired him as offensive coordinator right before the season started.
"I can't say anything to change anybody's mind," Gailey said. "All I can do is go try and help us win football games. If we win football games, everybody's mind will be changed, right? That's what'll happen.
"I will say this, there's been a lot of sixth- and seventh-round draft choices that have become Pro Bowlers. It's what you do with the opportunity when you get it."
Gailey clearly was referring to himself as that late-round draft pick, essentially embracing his status as a perceived underdog.
He's back in the NFL and in charge of his own team, one of only 32 in the world.
"I'm trying not to exaggerate, but we got 15 calls a day, begging for an interview and wanting this job," Nix said. "I could've hired 35 or 40 the first week. And you would be shocked at some of the names.
"Trust me, it's a good job. Don't ever think you can't fill coaching jobs even if they're bad. Oakland gets a lot of calls."
We'll try to get some answers. The Bills have called a 2 p.m. news conference to introduce Chan Gailey as their next head coach. I'm on my way to One Bills Drive from the home office in nearby Getzville.
The Bills didn't provide a press conference roster, but owner Ralph Wilson, chief executive officer Russ Brandon and general manager Buddy Nix should be there.
Perhaps they will shed some light on a grueling two months in which they were snubbed more often than the audio-visual club in the day's leading up the prom.
If you had the chance to ask the Bills front office a question about what has transpired in the two months since they fired Dick Jauron, what would it be?
I will monitor the comments section up until the news conference begins and try to get some of your specific questions answered.
The Bills, of course, tried to order the filet. And the lamb chops. And the cold water lobster tail. But their Diner's Club was declined. Repeatedly.
A lot happened while I was flying transcontinental from Sunday's playoff game in San Diego.
ESPN's John Clayton reports the Miami Dolphins are on the verge of hiring Mike Nolan to be their defensive coordinator. Now that's an inspired hire, folks.
Gailey, meanwhile, is hard to swallow for Bills fans, who haven't witnessed a playoff product in 10 years. They were expecting a bigger name, not a retread who sat out the 2009 season after rookie head coach Todd Haley fired him as Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator.
Gailey, who turned 58 this month, was the Dallas Cowboys' head coach in 1998 and 1999, reaching the playoffs both seasons.
He posted a 44-32 record in six seasons as Georgia Tech's head coach. He previously was a coordinator for the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dolphins.
His credentials are decent.
Nevertheless, Gailey will endure a fan backlash from circumstances out of his control. It's not his fault so many notable free-agent coaches and hotshot coordinators exed out the Bills like an annoying popup ad.
The Bills have a knack for pulling their fans back like a yo-yo. Remember when the masses were irate the Bills brought back Dick Jauron, and folks wondered if owner Ralph Wilson would get booed during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech? Then everybody forgot and starting thinking Super Bowl the moment the Bills signed Terrell Owens?
That's what the Bills do. We can expect a big-name free-agent signing to yank the fans back on their side. Maybe they'll bring Junior Seau out of retirement.
Gailey might not be a bad hire. He could be the right man for the job and hoist a Lombardi Trophy in a parade through Niagara Square.
Until something even remotely close to that materializes, Bills fans won't get this nasty taste out of their mouths.