Chan Gailey not losing faith in Bills

Updated: December 21, 2011, 2:49 PM ET
Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey maintains his confidence in Ryan Fitzpatrick despite the quarterback's latest dud. And with two games left, it isn't time to start questioning whether changes need to be made to his coaching staff.

In the face of growing criticism, Gailey said Tuesday there's enough blame to go around rather than have him single out anyone on a freefalling team that has lost seven straight after opening 5-2.

Bills Like the snow that blows in off Lake Erie come December, the criticism of the Bills hasn't been far behind for much of the past decade. Buffalo will miss the playoffs for the 12th straight year and is ensured of its seventh consecutive losing season.

"You lose this many games in a row, we all get criticism," Gailey said. "There's nobody that escapes criticism when you're doing what we're doing right now."

Gailey's comments came as the Bills (5-9) returned to practice after a 30-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

It was a game in which Fitzpatrick was booed off the field after he threw three interceptions -- two on consecutive possessions in the third quarter. It was another spotty performance by a player who has gone 1-7 and thrown 10 touchdowns passes and 13 interceptions since signing a six-year, $59 million contract extension.

Questions also are being raised about the status of defensive coordinator George Edwards, who has overseen a patchwork defense that has allowed 32 points a game during the skid. On Sunday, WGRF -- the team's radio broadcaster -- reported assistant head coach Dave Wannstedt had become more involved in defensive play-calling duties.

Gailey denied the report after the game. On Tuesday, Gailey sidestepped questions about Edwards by saying the sole focus is beating Denver (8-6) on Saturday in Buffalo's home finale.

"This is not the time to discuss all of that," Gailey said when asked if he was satisfied with the job Edwards has done. "We're all doing the very best we can."

Like the snow that blows in off Lake Erie come December, the criticism of the Bills hasn't been far behind for much of the past decade. Buffalo will miss the playoffs for the 12th straight year and is ensured of its seventh consecutive losing season.

In two months, the Bills have gone from AFC East upstarts to reclaiming their familiar role as division doormats.

Gailey defended his quarterback: "Zero. I've lost zero confidence."

Fitzpatrick is not hiding from his struggles, and is certainly aware of the fans' discontent.

"Oh, I heard them. And I think they were deserved," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm human. I listen to it. I heard it. But it's not something that bothers me that much. As a quarterback, I've certainly been booed before and I will be booed again. But you work through it."

Fitzpatrick's numbers have dropped at an alarming rate.

After throwing 14 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in his first seven games, Fitzpatrick has eight TD passes and 12 interceptions in his past seven. The entire offense is sputtering, averaging 16 fewer points and 65 fewer yards in its past seven games.

Injuries have been a factor for a unit that's missing its top threat in running back Fred Jackson (broken leg), and its top lineman, center Eric Wood (right knee).

It's no better on a defense that ranks 26th in the NFL in yards allowed and is giving up an average of 26.5 points.

Edwards is in his second year in Buffalo, and his defense continues to struggle in making the switch to playing a three-lineman, four-linebacker system.

Injuries also have played a factor on a unit that is without four key regulars, including tackle Kyle Williams (left foot).

Edwards wasn't available for comment because the Bills make their assistant coaches available to the media only after the team's final practice each week.

Questions regarding Edwards' job security first surfaced in January, when Gailey hired Wannstedt, shortly after he was fired by the University of Pittsburgh. Wannstedt is a defensive specialist, and he and Gailey have been close friends since working together on the Dolphins' staff in 2000 and 2001.

Veteran linebacker Chris Kelsay defended Edwards.

"I take it personal when I hear criticism about George," Kelsay said. "I think his scheme and his defense works. But it takes us players to execute it. And we haven't executed real well at times and it's shown. Unfortunately, he's taken the brunt of most of the criticism. I don't think it's fair."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE