Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix has no appetite for starting over in his effort to turn around the team’s fortunes.
With that in mind, any speculation about Chan Gailey losing his job as coach after this season essentially is wasted breath, Nix said.
“Yeah, and I hope I can put that to rest,” Nix said Friday when asked if Gailey is safe for next season. “The age-old thing – and they’ve done it around here for years – is to start over about every three years. What that does is make damn sure you don’t make it. … You change every three years and you never quite get there. That’s my take.”
Gailey is in the middle of his third season as Bills coach. The Bills’ disappointing play – they have the worst defense in the NFL – has increased speculation about his job security. Nix said Gailey’s contract does not run out after this year. In fact, Nix indicated it has two more years to run beyond the 2012 season.
“He’s got a year – or more,” Nix said.
Nix suggested that head-coaching changes often amount to an attempt to appease fans. In the 15 years since Marv Levy retired, the Bills have had five head coaches (six if you count 2009 interim coach Perry Fewell).
“You appease ‘em for about three months, and then when you line up you gotta do it again,” he said.
“I think Chan is the best – he’s one of the best offensive coaches in the league,” Nix said. “We’re playing three phases of our team – two of them are playing well, and we have to get the other one up to par.”
Nix also made it clear the 32nd-ranked defense is more to blame for the team’s 3-4 record than quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
“Listen, you score 34 points, you’re supposed to win the damn game,” Nix said, referring to the team’s 35-34 loss to Tennessee 13 days ago. “How many do we have to score? He made a mistake, sure he did. Everybody did. But if we get one or two stops or if we knock a pass down on third down, it probably changes the game. It comes down normally to two or three plays and somebody’s gotta make that play. We didn’t and they did.”
Nevertheless, Nix acknowledged that finding a quarterback in the 2013 NFL draft will be a high priority.
“The two guys we got behind Fitz right now are both up this year,” Nix said, referring to Tyler Thigpen and Tarvaris Jackson. “And we don’t have a young guy to develop or to give competition at that position. You can read into that. It’s not like we’re trying to replace somebody. It is strictly to make our team better. If we put [a rookie] in there and we develop him in two years or whatever, and he’s the guy, and if he beats [Fitzpatrick] out, then you’ve got a healthy situation. And that’s where we’re headed.”
Nix stated on his WGR radio show Friday morning that “I don’t want to leave here without a franchise guy for the future in place.”
After the team finished its practice Friday afternoon, Nix said that wasn’t meant to be a jab at Fitzpatrick.
“I’ve said that every year,” Nix said. “This year’s no different. It’s not anything to do with – everybody reads into it, it’s how Fitz is playing – we’re gonna go get somebody to replace him. It’s the same at every position.”
As far as his own future as general manager goes, the 72-year-old Nix said: “Here’s the deal with me. I came here to make sure this thing was turned around and on solid ground. And I’m not going anywhere till it is, unless the owner says I am, and he and I are the only two that can.”
Nix said 94-year-old owner Ralph Wilson still checks in with him by phone every morning, without fail.