Buffalo Bills players say they are solidly behind coach Chan Gailey.
“I love Chan,” said Bills defensive tackle Spencer Johnson. “I love Chan. If we go 9-7, everybody’s talking something totally different. We’re still going to keep the faith and keep playing hard and see how it goes.”
“I think Coach Gailey’s got a great mind offensively,” said running back Fred Jackson. “I think he’s doing some tremendous things for us. He’s utilizing his skill players. We just have to be consistent, as those players.”
The Bills’ actions in support of Gailey will speak louder than their words over the final five games of the NFL season. Bills General Manager Buddy Nix is on record as saying he has no desire to make a head-coaching change after the season.
Yet the Bills’ fall to 4-7 has created an inevitable degree of negative drama entering Sunday’s home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Can Gailey afford to lose at home to a Jaguars team that is 2-9 and ranks 32nd on offense and 31st on defense?
How damaging would it be to fan support if Gailey lost to a Jaguars team coached by Mike Mularkey, one of the many symbols of the Bills’ playoff drought and a man who is in his first year of a rebuilding project in Jacksonville?
Those are questions Nix and Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. do not want to be contemplating come Sunday night.
“It’s very important to show in these last five games the progress we feel we’ve made,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said Wednesday.
Despite their disappointing performance so far, Bills veterans say they’re convinced the team is better positioned than it was last year when it was 5-6 ... or in 2009 when it was 4-7 at the same point of the season.
“I feel that way. Obviously, personnel wise, yeah [we’re better],” said defensive tackle Kyle Williams. “Speaking defensively from the beginning of the year to where we are, we’re getting better. Progress shouldn’t be slow. You would hope that when you add guys and do what we’re doing, we can come out and turn it over faster than we have – as far as defensively.”
“I do feel better about where we’re going, but feelings don’t get much done,” said Williams, who is in his seventh season in Buffalo.
“Talent wise, of course,” said Johnson, who joined the Bills in 2008. “We have some guys who were younger who are older now and are playing at a higher level. We’ve got Mario [Williams] coming in. I don’t think we’ve gone back at all. I know we’ve been saying this for years, but a lot of games we could have easily won three more games and be sitting in an opposite situation. But close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. We’ve got to find a way to finish.”
“I think he’s doing a tremendous job,” Jackson said. “He definitely has us going in the right way. We’ve just got to get some things turn around for him.”
“I think coaches always take a lot of the blame,” Jackson said. “That’s just a part of the business we’re in. As players, all we can do is kind of take some of that heat off him by going out and playing well.”
There’s no time like Sunday for the players to start winning for their head coach.