I have been a long time blogger here since the opening days in 2007. For various reasons I have stayed away because I almost viewed my love for this site at one point as a gambling addiction. I checked it relentlessly and then one day I woke up when Dick Jauron was fired, and I said "enough." And I virtually said in my head that I am going to take a step back and view my favorite football in a much more lightly light if you will.
A little history first. I went on my 6th trip to Buffalo last Sunday, because frankly I just missed it. I started going in 2004 when I was a freshmen in college. I love the city, I love the Falls, I love the people and their passion for the Buffalo Bills. It is unmatched in my opinion. I love the Bills due to Phil Hansen, which I'll get to later, and I made a commitment to make an annual trip as long as I live.
When I walked through the practice facility and was viewing the history of the Buffalo Bills, I almost had to laugh. Seeing the list of coaches since Marv Levy....Wade Phillips, Greg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron, Perry Fewell, and Chan Gailey. I just had to laugh. All those coaches, all that misery. From the benching of Flutie, to 12 years of no playoffs. It all is like a bad, bad dream.
Chan Gailey's record as a Bills Head Coach is 13 wins and 26 losses (0.33 winning percentage). Dick Jauron for the record was 24 wins and 33 losses (0.42 winning percentage). Neither is impressive. Losman, Edwards, Fitzpatrick....yawn. I can tell you Dick Jauron was a great person, a great motivator, a players coach, but he had no quarterback.
I can tell you Chan Gailey is offensively gifted, a great OC, but has a below average NFL quarterback, and has no clue how to handle defense. They both have great qualities, but obviously they are lacking too.
The problems in Buffalo are well documented. My point I guess is simply this: Seeing what I saw Sunday is all too familiar and when the entire stadium knows when it is 34-28 Bills that the ending will be 35-34 Titans, that says a lot about your franchise. Fitzpatrick was efficient, Spiller and Jackson were superb, the defense was God-awful. I have come to the conclusion this is a culture of losing that has never been erased this decade.
I watched the players enter the facility. You can tell who takes their work seriously. Is it no coincidence that the last players to arrive before 11am ET were Spencer Johnson and Mario Williams? Mario is from what I have heard the last one to work and the first to leave. He is a terrible example in the locker room.
The reason I believe, completely my opinion, that Chris Kelsay spoke up is because of the unbelievable poor work ethic Mario has shown in his days in Buffalo. Guys like Kelsay, Kyle Williams, Fitz, Freddy and Stevie Johnson are highly paid and tenured Bills. However no where in there is a 1st round pick, let alone the #1 overall pick of the draft. They I believe signify what the Bills and the city are all about. Blue collar, work hard, do things the right way, and are men of football character.
I will make a prediction right now. If Chan Gailey simply does not start pulling guys that dont put effort on the field, this team will for sure not win more than 6 games. Mark Anderson has quit on plays, so has Mario, Kelvin Shepherd, Terrence Mcgee, etc.
I have seen it. We all have the access to the tape. Look at the San Fran game and tell me Mario and Mark Anderson didn't quit on multiple run plays???? Its freaking pathetic. I mean flat out give up. Don't get me wrong, it happens in other NFL cities too. But not to guys are making mega-millions and not with the expectations this defense has.
It all stems from a culture of zero accountability. I coach for a living, attend clinics, and just have a passion for it. I obviously am not that smart, or Id be a college coach, or I'd have my own blog ;) But I do know the #1 thing in coaching is discipline. And this is an undisciplined football team that is pretty talented but will not reach its potential because of the lack of discipline from Nix, Gailey and Wannstedt. In coaching, I can't think of anything for disappointing to a coach than seeing players not able to reach their potential. In this case however I believe it is correctable if discipline was instilled.
Buffalo doesn't have a long term answer at QB, everyone knows that. But this offense with Fitz doing what he did in the Cleveland, Kansas City and Tennessee game is more than serviceable to win with a top 10 defense. Get CJ and Fred 40 touches, keep Fitzpatrick under 30 attempts, and limit turnovers, is a formula that can work for Gailey's offense. Problem is we have a 32nd rank defense.
If ever a year to win 10 games, it was this one, but I do blame the culture that Gailey has refused to change as the main reason for this season. I mean, the 3 blowouts is unprecedented statistically and in today's NFL. Anyone with a pulse can see an undisciplined football team out there versus the Jets, 49ers and the second half of the Patriots game.
To summarize, I believe the young players like Stephon Gilmore and Marcell Dareus are becoming fat and happy and developing poor attitudes and work ethic examples because of the refusal for Gailey to discipline. I am teacher and I mimic it to the teacher who wants everyone to like them so they refuse to put students in their place and call them out. I'm so happy Kelsay said at least something and even he backed off from calling out specific players.
Ultimately, this organization needs someone at the top, to demand a higher output of character conduct and work ethic if greatness will ever be realized again. Mike Lombardi had this to say about Jim Schwartz and the Lions today in reference to the Lions going from good to great this year:
he (Jim Schwartz) must play only those players who demonstrate that they can go from good to great. He must find out who is with him and cast away those who are not. No one can be immune; everyone, from coaches to players, must be held accountable.
Chan Gailey should take Lombardi's advice. The best coaches develop motivational tactics for their star players. Wannstedt definitely is not doing it.
I love this franchise. I grew up watching Phil Hansen in High School, college and in Buffalo. He has spoken to my students and players. He defines the work ethic of Buffalo. I sure hope one day this organization has more Phil Hansen's and less fat and happy players who are content collecting checks and losing close games, while this proud fan base has to rot in futility.
The team should reflect the passion of this fan base, and we need the next Marv Levy, Bill Polian or Jim Kelly to walk through those doors. I sure hope that time comes soon.
Finally, I write all this because one day, I'd like to sit in the stands and have that "feeling" that my team is going to find a way to win, like I imagine every Patriots fan has had the last 12 years with #12 and Belichick at the helm. Wouldn't that be amazing?