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Debate: Buffalo Bills Continuity In 2008 And 2012

In 2008, the Buffalo Bills retained head coach Dick Jauron despite a third-straight 7-9 finish. Was that a worse decision than their likely retention of Chan Gailey?

Rich Schultz

As we have debated this week about whether the Buffalo Bills should pursue the idea of continuity by retaining embattled head coach Chan Gailey, one question has repeatedly come up that's worth pondering: (paraphrased) if Gailey is retained, how would it be any different than when Dick Jauron was retained as head coach in 2008?

There are some stark differences between the two situations worth pointing out. All the same, we'll leave it up to you to decide which situation was worse, and whether or not the differences are enough to advocate for retaining Gailey without getting sick to your stomach.

2008: Jauron signed a three-year contract extension in October after the Bills opened the season 5-1. They closed that season with a 2-8 run to finish 7-9 for a third straight season, bringing Jauron's three-year record to 21-27, and 7-11 in division games (0-6 in '08). That contract extension played a key role in Jauron's retention, as did the desire to maintain the "consensus" front office structure that coach-turned-GM Marv Levy built in 2006, then quickly vacated in 2007. At the time, the Bills did not have a true GM; Russ Brandon was the figurehead leader of the operation, but was not involved in personnel maneuvers. All football decisions were made by a combination of Jauron, chief college scout Tom Modrak and pro personnel evaluator John Guy. There was no final authority in the football operation.

2012: Gailey has at least one more season on the contract he signed in 2010, per GM Buddy Nix. Yeah - the Bills have an actual GM this time around, not to mention a well-regarded (and young) Assistant GM in Doug Whaley, and much more structured and fleshed out pro and college scouting departments. Nix is the final authority on all personnel decisions, with all elements of the football operation reporting to him. Two games away from completing his third season on the job, Gailey is 15-31 with the Bills, including 3-13 in division play. Despite the improvement in organizational structure, the Bills have somehow lost almost 10 percent more games under Gailey than they did under Jauron.

Our two questions for the masses, then:

  • Between 2008 and 2012, which situation offers a better argument for maintaining continuity?
  • Does either situation, in your mind, offer a good argument for maintaining continuity?