By Ed Kilgore
Chan Gailey was one of 7 NFL head coaches to get the pink slip Monday, and virtually all of the unlucky 7 have something in common: no franchise quarterback to pick up for shortcomings in other areas.
John Fox knows all about that. He was fired at Carolina after doing an outstanding job initially, but he landed in Denver, and then really hit the mother lode when the Broncos landed Peyton Manning. Wow, did Fox suddenly become a great coach or what? Denver now has home field throughout the AFC playoffs and a great chance to win another Super Bowl. Let's see, the last time they did that Mike Shanahan was the coach, and he had a guy named John Elway at qb.
After Elway retired, Shanahan wasn't as smart a coach anymore and was fired. In his new gig at Washington, Shanahan wasn't very smart either, until that is, the Redskins were so bad they were able to make a move to get RGIII. Now, the Redskins late surge led by Griffin has them in the playoffs, and Shanahan is a smart guy once again.
The examples are endless: Bill Belichick was 36-44 at Cleveland from 91-95 before being fired, but we all know how that turned out after Belichick received a 6th round gift that keeps giving in Tom Brady.
This isn't to say Gailey would have taken the Bills to the playoffs if Ryan Fitzpatrick was the quarterback Gailey and gm Buddy Nix hoped he would be, but we'll never know because it's doubtful even Brady or either Manning could have been a winner with the Bills defense. One of Gailey's biggest failings, as it turns out, was leaning on old friend Dave Wannstedt to change the d from a 3-4 to a 4-3. The move was a disaster that led to both men being fired.
As this is written Nix is in limbo, but to his credit, he has built a roster that is better than the one he inherited. He missed on Fitz, but finding a franchise NFL qb is THE hardest thing to do in the sport. It's skill, but it's luck too. If everybody knew Russell Wilson would be this good, he wouldn't have lasted for Seattle to take him in the third round.
It's sad that Ralph Wilson at 94 is now looking for his 5th head coach since he fired Wade Phillips after the 2001 season, but Wilson's desire to win - contrary to what some fans believe - sometimes leads to his undoing. Phillips is the last Bills coach to reach the playoffs.
By the way, that team that lost the "Music City Miracle" game at Tennessee had a great defense, so having quarterbacks like Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson worked to some degree.
Care to guess how either of those qb's would have fared with the current Bills defense in place?
No matter who comes in, they'll inherit a team with more talent than Gailey inherited, but with the same two major problems.
Quarterback, and defense. Fix that, and everything is great once again now that we know the Bills franchise will be in the Buffalo area for the next several years at least.