Bills: Gailey Upset At Defensive Meltdown

Up 21 - 0 on the road should have been a good thing. It was, until the Bills defense failed to adjust and allowed over 40 points to the Patriots in the season finale. Gailey is so mad he's shaking things up in Buffalo.

Bills prioritize defensive improvement

   The Bills' season-ending loss to the Patriots was a microcosm of Buffalo's season, according to coach Chan Gailey.

   Buffalo raced to a 21-0 lead, only to lose 49-21.

   Indeed, the Bills got off to a 5-2 start only to watch an avalanche of injuries and a monumental loss of momentum eat away at their confidence. Buffalo lost eight of its final nine games, punctuated by a seven-game losing streak, to finish out of the playoffs for a 12th consecutive season.

   "We started fast and then didn't finish," said Gailey, who has produced records if 4-12 and 6-10 with Buffalo. "We've got to learn to finish. The year before, we didn't even get started (0-8 record). At least this year we were in it but didn't finish. So if we can learn to finish, I think that'll be one of the things that helps gets us over the hump."

   The Bills believe they are over the hump offensively. Behind quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a full-time starter for the first time in his seven-year career, Buffalo jumped from 25th in yardage and 28th in points in 2010 to 14th in both categories in 2011.

   Fitzpatrick threw for a career-best 3,832 yards and 24 touchdowns, running back Fred Jackson was an MVP candidate until breaking his leg in late November, wide receiver Steve Johnson topped 1,000 yards receiving for a second year in a row, and the offensive line, despite widespread injuries, finished with the second-fewest sacks allowed in the league with 23.

   Defense was an entirely different story.

   While the addition of defensive tackle/end Marcell Dareus, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, helped Buffalo improve slightly from 32nd in run defense to 28th, the team fell in all other major statistical categories.

   The Bills wound up 26th in yards allowed, giving up a team-record 5,938 yards and 434 points, second most in team history. Watching the team give up 49 unanswered points to the Patriots was the final straw for Gailey, who a day later fired defensive coordinator George Edwards.

   Promoted to take over those duties was assistant head coach Dave Wannstedt, the former Bears and Dolphins head coach who served as Gailey's sounding board in 2011 while helping Edwards with inside linebackers.

   The promotion of Wannstedt was long expected, but Gailey denied he brought him to Buffalo a year ago with the intention of making him his coordinator. It just became painfully clear the move had to be made.

   "People out there will speculate that this was set up way back. That is the furthest thing from the truth," Gailey said. "Dave was hired to help me, to help the defense, and that's what he did all year. And it just got to the point where I felt like we needed a change, and so we made the change."

   Edwards, who had little experience as a coordinator, was hamstrung by season-ending injuries to linebacker Shawne Merriman, defensive tackle Kyle Williams and cornerback Terrence McGee. Three rookies wound up earning starting jobs: inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, cornerback Aaron Williams and Dareus.

   "We're in a production business, that's the bottom line. We need to get better production," said Gailey, who watched Buffalo's defense allow 400 or more yards five games in a row at one point. "George is an extremely smart guy, and it's not all him, as it never is. You know, we lost some good players, and that's tough on anybody. But when you just think you need to head in a different direction, you have to do what you have to do."

   Wannstedt, the architect of the Dallas Cowboys' No. 1 ranked defense that beat up the Bills in a 52-17 victory in Super Bowl XXVII, gives Buffalo a strong leader and defensive game-planner to complement Gailey on offense.

   It was Gailey who served as the offensive coordinator on Wannstedt's Miami staff in 2000 and 2001.

   "Dave has a wealth of experience," Gailey said. "He's been around good to great defenses before, and I think his level of experience will help our players right now to hopefully have better production as we go into next season."

   Decisions on personnel and scheme (Wannstedt is known as a 4-3 coach) will be arrived at after a long postseason evaluation period.

   "I'm very confident," Wannstedt said. "I feel we have some good players. We had some injuries to a few key guys, and at one point this year we had five rookies on the field when we were in nickel.

   "So I'm looking forward to developing those younger players, and we have the draft coming up, free agency coming up. There are a lot of exciting things to look forward to from a coaching standpoint. All these things contribute to giving us the opportunity to take a nice step forward."

   Gailey believes giving Fitzpatrick a stronger defense will help the quarterback cut down on his interceptions (career-high 23) because he won't be playing catch up in so many games.

   "I think we're stronger in the offensive line and the defensive line than last year when we're healthy," Gailey said. "I think we have a year under our belt offensively where we're continuing to gather some pretty good players at all positions. We took a fairly significant jump from year one to year two offensively. I think we can continue to get better there and be more consistent there. I think we'll continue to improve defensively. I think we're stronger in the defensive line, and I think we've got some very good young players on the defensive side of the ball."


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\r\n","mobileBody":"    The Bills' season-ending loss to the Patriots was a microcosm of Buffalo's season, according to coach Chan Gailey.    Buffalo raced to a 21-0 lead, only to lose 49-21.    Indeed, the Bills got off to a 5-2 start only to watch an avalanche of injuries and a monumental loss of momentum eat away at their confidence. Buffalo lost eight of its final nine games, punctuated by a seven-game losing streak, to finish out of the playoffs for a 12th consecutive season.    \"We started fast and then didn't finish,\" said Gailey, who has produced records if 4-12 and 6-10 with Buffalo. \"We've got to learn to finish. The year before, we didn't even get started (0-8 record). At least this year we were in it but didn't finish. So if we can learn to finish, I think that'll be one of the things that helps gets us over the hump.\"    The Bills believe they are over the hump offensively. Behind quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a full-time starter for the first time in his seven-year career, Buffalo jumped from 25th in yardage and 28th in points in 2010 to 14th in both categories in 2011.    Fitzpatrick threw for a career-best 3,832 yards and 24 touchdowns, running back Fred Jackson was an MVP candidate until breaking his leg in late November, wide receiver Steve Johnson topped 1,000 yards receiving for a second year in a row, and the offensive line, despite widespread injuries, finished with the second-fewest sacks allowed in the league with 23.    Defense was an entirely different story.    While the addition of defensive tackle/end Marcell Dareus, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, helped Buffalo improve slightly from 32nd in run defense to 28th, the team fell in all other major statistical categories.    The Bills wound up 26th in yards allowed, giving up a team-record 5,938 yards and 434 points, second most in team history. Watching the team give up 49 unanswered points to the Patriots was the final straw for Gailey, who a day later fired defensive coordinator George Edwards.    Promoted to take over those duties was assistant head coach Dave Wannstedt, the former Bears and Dolphins head coach who served as Gailey's sounding board in 2011 while helping Edwards with inside linebackers.    The promotion of Wannstedt was long expected, but Gailey denied he brought him to Buffalo a year ago with the intention of making him his coordinator. It just became painfully clear the move had to be made.    \"People out there will speculate that this was set up way back. That is the furthest thing from the truth,\" Gailey said. \"Dave was hired to help me, to help the defense, and that's what he did all year. And it just got to the point where I felt like we needed a change, and so we made the change.\"    Edwards, who had little experience as a coordinator, was hamstrung by season-ending injuries to linebacker Shawne Merriman, defensive tackle Kyle Williams and cornerback Terrence McGee. Three rookies wound up earning starting jobs: inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, cornerback Aaron Williams and Dareus.    \"We're in a production business, that's the bottom line. We need to get better production,\" said Gailey, who watched Buffalo's defense allow 400 or more yards five games in a row at one point. \"George is an extremely smart guy, and it's not all him, as it never is. You know, we lost some good players, and that's tough on anybody. But when you just think you need to head in a different direction, you have to do what you have to do.\"    Wannstedt, the architect of the Dallas Cowboys' No. 1 ranked defense that beat up the Bills in a 52-17 victory in Super Bowl XXVII, gives Buffalo a strong leader and defensive game-planner to complement Gailey on offense.    It was Gailey who served as the offensive coordinator on Wannstedt's Miami staff in 2000 and 2001.    \"Dave has a wealth of experience,\" Gailey said. \"He's been around good to great defenses before, and I think his level of experience will help our players right now to hopefully have better production as we go into next season.\"    Decisions on personnel and scheme (Wannstedt is known as a 4-3 coach) will be arrived at after a long postseason evaluation period.    \"I'm very confident,\" Wannstedt said. \"I feel we have some good players. We had some injuries to a few key guys, and at one point this year we had five rookies on the field when we were in nickel.    \"So I'm looking forward to developing those younger players, and we have the draft coming up, free agency coming up. There are a lot of exciting things to look forward to from a coaching standpoint. All these things contribute to giving us the opportunity to take a nice step forward.\"    Gailey believes giving Fitzpatrick a stronger defense will help the quarterback cut down on his interceptions (career-high 23) because he won't be playing catch up in so many games.    \"I think we're stronger in the offensive line and the defensive line than last year when we're healthy,\" Gailey said. \"I think we have a year under our belt offensively where we're continuing to gather some pretty good players at all positions. We took a fairly significant jump from year one to year two offensively. I think we can continue to get better there and be more consistent there. I think we'll continue to improve defensively. I think we're stronger in the defensive line, and I think we've got some very good young players on the defensive side of the ball.\" Bills News Patriots Daily Wire Patriots - Bills Game Chatter For more Patriots news follow us via Twitter: Follow @patriotsinsider Or find us on Facebook : Facebook.com/PatriotsInsider ","skipOnMobile":false,"media":[],"dateOverride":"2012-01-07T02:35:00","authorOverride":"Sports Xchange","role":"","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:1021781]","mainImage":{},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:1021781]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"177","name":"New York Jets"},{"id":"589","name":"Alabama"},{"id":"10020","name":"Alabama - Football"},{"id":"176","name":"New England Patriots"},{"id":"177","name":"New York Jets"},{"id":"589","name":"Alabama"},{"id":"10020","name":"Alabama - Football"},{"id":"176","name":"New England 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