Chan's the man? Really?
It's difficult, damn near impossible, actually, to take the Buffalo Bills too seriously these days. Just listening to GM Budy Nix's way-over-the-top Alabama drawl at press conferences, I can't get past the image of a guy sitting there with overalls and a banjo. I wish these things were televised.
Obviously, Nix isn't your average Cletus, having been accomplished enough in the NFL to be a respected scout and "football guy." But as far as being a GM, I'm getting the feeling he's out of his league ... a lot like Ralph Wilson, the guy who hired him.
Unlike most Bills fans who'd fooled themselves into thinking the team would make a big splash in piecing together its new football department, I guess I was OK with the hiring of Chan Gailey on Tuesday. There are worse coaches out there, and besides, weren't we led to believe that absolutely no one wanted the gig? Wasn't there a sense of urgency to hire someone to spare a black-eyed organization the embarassment of being told "no" by guys like Russ Grimm and Leslie Frazier?
Apparently not. If you believe—and I most certainly do—a report from ESPN's Tim Graham, the Bills had a shot at Marty Schottenheimer, Jim Fassel, and Mike Martz. It doesn't appear any of them got so much as a phone call, let alone an interview. What does that say about Nix's sense of due diligence with this, perhaps the most critical hire in Bills coaching history?
"Very few times do ya git [told you, I just can't get past the ridiculous accent] an offensive coach who's been successful everywhere he's been," Nix said at Tuesday's press conference.
Really? All of the aforementioned are indeed better offensive coaches who have enjoyed more success than Gailey, so why select the fourth-best of the group that's available? Why take ground chuck when filet mignon, prime rib and chateau briand are there for the taking? Don't we want that there offense ta be runnin' like butter drippin' of a hot biscuit? (Apologies, the accent's kind of infectious!)
As always, the Bills shopped for their guy at Kmart, making the utterly uninspired pick of Gailey and affirming what we all feared most: the front office never intended to get a big name to turn this sad operation around. All the hot air about ponying up to $10 million for a big name was just that.
Hey, it was pure pie in sky to expect Wilson to shoot for the likes of Mike Shanahan or Bill Cowher, but was it too much to expect more than this, a mild upgrade from Dick Jauron?
Gailey deserves the benefit of the doubt, even if the organization for which he'll work doesn't. I'll give him two years. Thirty-two games to show Western New York he knows what he's doing, warms up the paddles, yells "clear" and pumps some life into flatlining fanchise. Understand, this presents a much bigger challenge than he had in Dallas, where he still had much of the personnel left over from the Cowboys' three title teams of the nineties. The same goes for Nix. He and his coaching choice have to put together the right staff and then make some difficult on-field personnel decisions and bring Buffalo back into the playoff discussion.
The clock is running. The NFL is a results-based business, although it's fair to be suspicious that the Bills don't work like the rest of their cutthroat brethren. They sold us on continuity (read: complacency) by retaining Jauron last season, but it's time to switch gears in a major way and expect more from this front office. But I can't get to a place where I have any faith in Nix or Gailey. What hope is there, then, to put any faith in the product they'll put on the field in September?
• I hate things I can't control and predict: the stock market, traffic jams ... NFL playoff picks. That said, here are my picks for NFL Championship Weekend: Indianapolis 24, N.Y. Jets 10; New Orleans 31, Minnesota 21.
(Chris Schobert here, piggybacking again:
NY Jets 23, Colts 20, in a shocking upset! Yeah, I said it.
Minnesota 34, New Orleans 27. That's right, friends–a Jets-Vikings Super Bowl ...)