Gailey A Fond Stop Along Memory Lane

Mike Prisuta remembers when Chan Gailey brought the Steelers out of the offensive dark ages in the mid-1990s, but offers little hope for Gailey's Bills on Sunday against the Steelers.

Can Gailey had modest success as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and isn't having much of any kind in Buffalo. Still, his tenure as the Steelers' offensive coordinator in the mid-90s was a period of time for which Steeler Nation ought to pause and give thanks.

Gailey brought the Steelers out of the Ron Erhardt run-it-run-it-run-it dark ages and into the 20th Century from an offensive-philosophy standpoint. Although Erhardt was still officially the OC in the 1995 Super Bowl season, that trip to Phoenix had Gailey's fingerprints all over it.

When Gailey departed following the 1997 season, he was replaced by Ray Sherman, who lasted all of one season before he was replaced by Kevin Gilbride, who coordinated the offense for two. (So there's three years of our football lives we'll never get back.)

In addition to dragging the Steelers out of the dark ages from an offensive standpoint, Gailey provided the type of thick, Southern drawl every self-respecting staff needs.

He'd say things such as, "Let's don't see can we score some of the time. Let's see can we score every time."

I also always appreciated the way he'd say "foot-bahl team."

Believe it or not, you need that as a part of the soundtrack of a season. Keith Butler is the closest thing the Steelers have to a Chan these days, and it's just not the same.

As for Chan's current "foot-bahl team," based on what I saw in the Buffalo-Cincinnati game the Bills have earned their 2-8 record on merit. Yes, they almost won at Miami (15-10), at Baltimore (37-34 in OT), at Kansas City (13-10 in OT) and against Chicago (22-19). But you know what they call almost winning, don't you?

That's right, losing.

A little perspective:

* The first offensive lineman off the bench against the Bengals was Kraig Urbik (No. 60; yeah, him), who replaced injured right guard Eric Wood. Urbik looked like Urbik.

* The Harvard quarterback (No. 14) will be putting his degree in molecular biology or nuclear physics to use sooner rather than later. Although his numbers aren't bad, Ryan Fitzpatrick will throw it into a crowd and appears especially challenged trying to throw an out. His best attribute is his ability to roll out and throw on the run or just keep running. He loves the short middle from a spread formation.

* Wide receiver Steve Johnson (No. 13) is the real deal. He doesn't have beep-beep speed but he can put his foot in the ground and go after the catch. He'll go over the middle and he can handle traffic. Good player, tough player, very competitive player.

* Gailey still loves his three- and four-wide receiver sets/looks.

* That miracle second-half comeback in Cincinnati (from 31-14 down at the break to a 49-31 final) was fueled in part by a fumble return for a touchdown, an interception in the end zone that was returned 56 yards, and a horrible Bengals punt.

All of this occurred after Cincinnati had lost three starting defensive backs (corner Jonathan Joseph and safeties Ray Crocker and Roy Williams) in the first half.

* The defense for the most part blitzes on third down or gives a blitz look (coming from the second level but rushing only four). When linebacker Paul Posluszny (No. 51) comes as one of the four, there are open scramble lanes available for the taking should Ben Roethlisberger be inspired enough to run again.

Posluszny made one play in the backfield against the Bengals by reading a screen and then jumping it. His tackles, when he isn't getting caught up in the wash inside, are usually 4 or 5 yards off the ball and he looks beatable in red-zone coverage. Yawn.

* Linebacker Chris Kelsay (No. 90) will put his hand on the ground on either the left or right side and has a nice motor. Nose tackle Kyle Williams (No. 95) is a load. And strong safety Donte Whitner (No. 20) is a hitter.

* Big Marcus Stroud isn't the problem he was during his Jacksonville days but he can still get a big paw up and bat down a pass.

* The perimeter appears available running or throwing.

The Bills can't win this game, but the Steelers can lose it. Based on the shelf-life all that angst New England stirred up and the Steelers turned into positive energy against Oakland still seems to have, that appears unlikely.


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