Bills' Chan Gailey Acknowledges Personnel Gaffe At Center

It took him a week, but Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey admitted to something he could've easily foreseen happening: he stretched Andy Levitre too thin.

When the Bills lost Eric Wood in the pivot in Week 10, his in-game replacement was right guard Kraig Urbik - mostly because Levitre was still filling in at left tackle. Buffalo's offense was a disaster in Dallas, but Urbik effectively operated in the pivot. His shotgun snaps were picture-perfect.

But because Gailey and the coaching staff had worked Levitre as the backup center - albeit only in an emergency capacity - during training camp, Levitre got the nod as the new center with Wood out. Never mind the fact that Levitre would be playing his third different position in a month; never mind that Urbik performed well.

During yesterday's CBS broadcast of the debacle in Miami, Rich Gannon disclosed that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick told him that Levitre had been struggling with his shotgun snaps during practice all week, and that the snaps were falling short and to the left. Lo and behold, that's precisely what happened all day Sunday.

Fitzpatrick laid some of the blame on the rainy weather that left the ball slick in the fourth quarter. Gailey also mentioned the weather in trying to alleviate blame from Levitre, and to his credit, Levitre would have none of it, shouldering the blame himself. Here's the thing, though: I don't think a single Bills fan would be blaming Levitre this morning.

It doesn't take much common sense to point out that asking Levitre to play a third position in a five-game stretch was probably a bad idea. The idea is made worse considering that there was a suitable replacement with good game tape in Urbik. It's made inexcusable when your quarterback admits that Levitre is struggling with his shotgun snaps, yet the switch back to Urbik isn't made until a must-win game is completely out of hand.

Seriously: the decision to force a player to play a third position, watch him struggle at it for a week, and not make the late switch before a critical division game can only be described as "inexcusable." It was perhaps the first true example of abhorrent personnel decision-making during Gailey's 26-game tenure as Bills head coach.

As mentioned up top, Gailey realized his mistake. Urbik will be the first-team center moving forward, and ideally for the final six games on the schedule. Levitre will likely end up back at left guard - and after weeks of praising his versatility, it's nice to know he'll be returning to the position at which he actually excels.

On November 1, Gailey had a remarkable 99 percent approval rating from the Buffalo Rumblings community. His team had just shut out Washington, and they were 5-2 and sitting atop the AFC East. Three weeks later, he'd be lucky to get half of that support, and it's decisions like this one that are giving the skeptics plenty of ammo.

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