Bills Playing It Too Safe in Hiring Gailey
And now to fire up the long-suffering fan base, they're hiring Chan Gailey.
There may be few nicer men in pro football than Gailey. But there also are few less inspiring names the Bills could have chosen to be their next head coach. Having Bill Cowher's name floated out there had to have Bills fans excited. Getting Cowher's former offensive coordinator will pour a bucket of ice-cold water on any hopes the Bills had for an exciting 2010.
The Bills were rumored to be looking at Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier as well, but decided that they wanted a coach with previous head coaching experience. Frazier, who replaced Mike Tomlin when Tomlin became the Steelers head coach, has been linked to nearly every open job in the past two years, partly because he's served as the check box for teams looking to fulfill the Rooney Rule requirements. But that shouldn't diminish from the fact that he's done an excellent job as the Vikings defensive coordinator.
Frazier doesn't fit the mold of the thirty-something hotshot coordinators that have recently gotten jobs (like Tomlin, Josh McDaniels or Todd Haley), but as a 50-year-old, he's still in the prime of his coaching career. The prime of Gailey's coaching career has already happened, and he's on a downward spiral.
After one year as the Chiefs offensive coordinator, Gailey was fired from the job midway through the preseason this year. Before that, he led Georgia Tech for six years. The good news is, during Gailey's tenure, the Yellow Jackets were never bad -- they made it to a bowl game every year and won at least seven games in each and every season. The bad news is they were also never very good. The Yellow Jackets never finished a season ranked in the Top 25 under Gailey and never beat their top rival (Georgia). Since Gailey's been fired, Georgia Tech has finished in the Top 25 in each of the past two seasons.
Gailey's track record in two years as the Cowboys' head coach (from 1998-1999) was no more inspiring. The Cowboys went 18-14 in the regular season under Gailey with a pair of first-round playoff losses. You have to go back to 1984, when Gailey was at Division II Troy, to find a time when he's had significant success as a head coach.
In other words, Gailey is an extremely safe hire. He's unlikely to make the Bills worse than they've been under Dick Jauron. But there is also nothing in his history that suggests that he has what it takes to make the Bills better in a division that now has three very capable teams.
Admittedly, the last two times the Bills have hired up-and-coming coordinators didn't work out very well (Mike Mularkey and Greg Williams), but the decision to hire Jauron as a head-coaching retread didn't pay off either. By hiring a 58-year-old head coach, the Bills have picked someone who, at best, will be a short-term solution, where hiring Frazier or some other impressive younger coordinator would give the team a chance to find a long-term answer to its coaching carousel.