Gailey: Newfound depth is silver lining to injuries
With the Bills officially eliminated from the NFL
playoffs for a 12th consecutive season, longest streak for an AFC team
now that Houston is in, coach Chan Gailey has also officially begun
speaking about next season.
He doesn't like it.
"No coach likes to talk about that, you want to be
talking about the playoffs, a chance to be the (Super Bowl) champions,"
he said. "That's why you are in the business. You're not in the
business to look great, be respectable, get stats. It's about being the
best. It's frustrating and I don't like it but it is what it is. We're
out of the playoffs so what are we going to do with the rest of this
year and what are we going to do about next year?"
The Bills (5-8) host the Miami Dolphins (4-9) at
Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday in a game where the only compelling
storyline is job competition for 2012. Buffalo is riding a six game
losing streak; Miami fired coach Tony Sparano this week and named
secondary coach Todd Bowles interim head coach.
With 15 players on injured reserve including nine
or so regulars, Buffalo's quality of depth has been exposed badly
during its losing skid. However, the silver lining, Gailey said, is
that depth is being developed because so many backups are getting
"We've been able to play a lot of guys this year
that will create competition next year," he said. "We played a lot of
young guys the last two years that gives us some experience with depth.
If we can continue to see the growth in these guys, it will create a
lot of competition on our football team next year."
Losing Streak Killing Hope
--The Bills are a team in the throes of a six-game
losing streak during which they have been outscored 194-77, and there
isn't any question that they are a team that has lost its confidence.
"Early in the season when we were winning, we were
playing with a little more swagger, confidence was there," linebacker
Chris Kelsay said. "Now it's not."
Coach Chan Gailey is at a loss to figure out where
it has gone, but he acknowledges that it is indeed gone.
"I think they are down," said Gailey. "I hate to
go all the way to demoralized. I think they don't have any confidence
right now. I think we are fighting that right now as a football team. I
don't think there's any question about that. And I thought we were
making progress after the last two games, I really did. Then we just
played awful (against the Chargers)."
The Bills are helpless on both sides of the ball
and there's no one they can rely on to make a big play when one is
needed. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was admittedly terrible in San
Diego as he completed just 13-of-34 passes for 176 yards with two
picks, compiling a career-worst 31.0 passer rating. Fitzpatrick not
only is throwing the ball poorly, missing on the simplest of routes,
but his decision-making -- considered to be his finest attribute -- has
been questioned as well. His decision to throw the pass that San
Diego's Steve Gregory intercepted and returned for a backbreaking
touchdown was simply puzzling. He also threw an interception directly
into double coverage earlier in the game.
"Fitz is always trying to make a play," said
Gailey. "He makes it a lot of times. He made them a lot during the
first part of the year. Now that ball's getting tipped up and
intercepted. At times he missed some things he hit earlier in the
season. I see that as well. I think he would say the same thing. I
think it boils down to a consistency factor and I don't know what that
is, because we were very consistent the first part of the year."
Wide receiver Steve Johnson, who had his first
100-yard game of the season in the loss, said he's perplexed by what
has happened to a team that won five of its first seven games and at
one point was leading the league in scoring. And he feels bad for what
Fitzpatrick is going through.
"Yeah, it's tough because he's a brother, and you
don't want to see your brother go through anything bad," said Johnson.
"So seeing him go through it, it's like we all go through it. He's our
quarterback, he's our head. With Fitz he'll have better days. He'll
have good days, he'll have bad days, just like we all will. We're still
riding with him. We've just got to uplift him just like he does with
us. When we make mistakes he's there for us. It's tough, but we're all
grown-ups. We've got to get through it."
As bad as the offense has been, at least it had
its bright moments earlier in the year. On defense, the Bills have been
abysmal for Gailey's first two years with the team and his defensive
coordinator, George Edwards, could be the fall guy at the end of the
Because they have so many deficiencies, Edwards
has tried a patchwork approach to his 3-4 defense, but it has required
playing several players out of position. The idea of converting Kelsay
and Spencer Johnson, defensive ends by trade, into outside linebackers,
just looks more and more ill-advised as the losses pile up. Neither
player can hold the edge and they can't cover on passing downs.
The defensive line has been unable to generate a
pass rush, and when the Bills try to get the quarterback with blitzes,
they don't have defensive backs good enough to maintain one-on-one
Gailey was asked if the six-game losing streak
comes down to the most obvious of points, that his team lacks enough
"I hate to admit that," Gailey said. "I hate to,
because we've got NFL players. I want to say if we'll go execute with
the players we've got, I think we can be a respectable football team. I
don't know if we can be good right now, but we can be respectable."
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