Well, that didn't take long.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, including Chan Gailey, Buffalo's 28-9 "win" over the New York Jets on Sunday did not save the job of the head coach, or any of his assistants.
The primary reason for Gailey’s demise was his defense. Despite replacing George Edwards with Dave Wannstedt at the coordinator’s spot and adding $100 million free agent Mario Williams, the Bills actually got worse on defense, by various measures.
They gave up 435 points, second worst in Bills history, sixth worst in the NFL this season and one more point than they allowed in 2011.
They ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, down four spots from the year before. They were worst in the NFL on third downs and worst in the NFL in the red zone (preventing touchdowns on opponent drives inside the 20-yard line).That Buddy Nix was not among those dismissed today does not guarantee his return for a fourth season as general manager. Traditionally, the franchise's leadership meets with Ralph Wilson immediately following the season.
Nix repeatedly talked about his desire for continuity at the head coaching position, which suggests the decision to hire Gailey was forced on him by Wilson, who may well decide that the 73-year-old general manager is not the ideal choice to oversee Buffalo's first complete rebuilding attempt since 2001, when he brought Tom Donahoe in to run the operation.
As for Gailey, he handled losing what will almost certainly be his final NFL head coaching job with style.
“I want to thank the fans,” he said. “Great Buffalo fans. Great football town. These are loyal, loyal fans, and I understand that. I think that the next staff will have a great opportunity for success and to make this another great football franchise.”
“This will probably be - and I say probably but I think it will be - the first place that’s ever fired me that I’ll pull for,” Gailey said.Having covered a number of coaching changes, I've never gotten any pleasure from seeing someone lose his job -- though, in the interest of full disclosure, I couldn't muster a lot of sympathy for Gregg Williams or Mike Mularkey, who quit in a huff because his kids got razzed in school, or something, either.
For the record, I like Gailey as a guy, and the idea of him as a head coach. Same with Nix and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who just completed his third full season as the starting quarterback without giving any indication he has improved over this span, or is likely to do so.
None of the trio is the stereotypical type for his role, and, having spent a lifetime rooting for just about every variety of underdog, I would have liked to see them succeed despite not being a drill sergeant, a tight-lipped automaton and a rocket-armed alpha male, respectively.
I just wish all three were better at their jobs.
We will most likely know Nix's fate in the next few days. Fitzpatrick may be in limbo until after the Super Bowl, when the Bills -- whoever is running them -- start making roster and salary-cap decisions before free-agency begins.
The bet here is that Nix and Fitzpatrick will follow Gailey out of town, in that order. If I'm 94 years old, my team has won a Super Bowl and I still care enough to pay a head coach not to coach for the next two years, which is what Gailey's firing reportedly requires, I'm going all the way with the reboot.
After 13 seasons that ended when the schedule ran out, anything less makes no sense.