Among the many unpopular figures in the Buffalo Bills organization at the moment, none has been the recipient of more fan vitriol than defensive coordinator George Edwards. The reasons should be obvious: Buffalo's defense has largely been terrible this season, and the team has an experienced defensive play-caller in Dave Wannstedt already on the coaching staff.
Despite daily calls for Edwards' firing from the fan base, Bills fans need to come to grips with the fact that it's not going to happen for a while - if at all.
First and foremost, despite the general sentiment of the team right now, the Bills are still only a game out of the Wild Card spot in the AFC. NFL teams don't make drastic changes with coordinators or play-callers when they're fighting for the playoffs - and if you don't think firing a guy in favor of another already on the coaching staff is a big deal, think back to the Turk Schonert-for-Alex Van Pelt swap at offensive coordinator in 2009. It doesn't work.
That's the only logical reason, however, for keeping Edwards in his coordinator post for the remainder of the season. Fan demands for his proverbial head need to die down until the season is over, but the vitriol is well-deserved, even if Edwards still has a pretty bare cupboard from a talent perspective. As Gailey (and Buddy Nix) have repeatedly said: the NFL is a business of production, and Edwards' defenses have not produced. They've allowed other teams to produce.
There's also evidence that, in a vacuum, Gailey might prefer Wannstedt to Edwards.
Buffalo named Gailey to the head coach position on January 19, 2010. One of the very last hires he made in filling out his coaching staff was Edwards, who was announced as the new defensive coordinator on February 4 - a full 16 days after Gailey's hiring. Some hirings can take that long after the hiring of the head coach, but it's not typical for coordinators. In fact, Gailey had most of his defensive staff filled out - including a few holdovers from Dick Jauron's final coaching staff - before plopping Edwards in at coordinator.
Yes, Edwards had just left the Miami Dolphins to accept a position as co-defensive coordinator with the Florida Gators. Yes, the delay in Edwards' hiring in Buffalo may have been purely a matter of logistics in getting that matter resolved. It's also possible that Gailey struck out on a few higher candidates and landed on a guy that spent two years as his linebackers coach with the Dallas Cowboys in 1998 and '99. That's obviously speculation on our part, but it doesn't strike us as a huge stretch at all.
Gailey's experience working with Wannstedt is slightly deeper in meaning, as he was Wannstedt's offensive coordinator for two years in Miami (Edwards was not on that coaching staff, by the way). The relationship between a head coach and a coordinator is far closer than that of a coordinator and a linebackers coach. Now, with Wannstedt also holding the title of Assistant Head Coach on Gailey's staff, there's more history between those two than between Gailey and Edwards.
Still, this thing can't be examined in a vacuum. If this were still January of 2010 and both Wannstedt and Edwards were on the market and interested in the coordinator gig, obviously the smart money would be on Wannstedt. But now Edwards has nearly two full years of system-installation under Gailey, and while Wannstedt has been a part of that this year, continuity may win out for Gailey. Continuity has been a big rallying cry for Buffalo's organization of late - it's a big reason why Jauron was retained for a fourth year in 2009 - and it may win out in this debate.
We know where Bills fans stand on the topic of whether or not Edwards should be fired. That's not what we're interested in discussing today. Our question for you, Bills fans: can anyone make a convincing argument that it makes sense to fire him now? And, more importantly, do you think Gailey has the stones to make a coordinator switch after the season between two guys he's known, worked with, and trusts?