Chan’s Gets A Chance … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

Chan Gailey needs a victory. When your team is the last winless club in the NFL, getting off the schnide is motivation enough.

Coming to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday and winning would make it a great day for Gailey. Beating the Chiefs and Todd Haley would elevate the satisfaction level to outstanding, at least a few hours.

It’s impossible to find words said publicly by Gailey to confirm that suspicion. But enough has been said away from the prying eyes of the media to indicate that beating Haley and the Chiefs would be very satisfying for the Bills head coach.

Gailey is a competitor, and even though he might be one of the nicest people that’s ever worked in the NFL, he craves success. When he walked into the Chiefs facility on Monday August 31, 2009, it was just another early morning start during football season for an offensive coordinator.

When he walked out of the building a few hours later, Gailey was no longer the Chiefs offensive coordinator. He was fired by Haley for reasons that have never been outlined or acknowledged. Suffice to say these guys were not on the same page when it came to offensive approach and rather than applying more band-aids to the situation and make it through the season. Thirteen days before the opening game in Baltimore, Haley yanked the band-aid off.  

It was painful for the Chiefs, who practically went back to ground zero as Haley revamped the offensive playbook. And it was painful for Gailey. There was public talk on the day he was fired about working in some other aspect of the organization, but that was never going to happen. Gailey and his wife spent a few more weeks in their Country Club Plaza apartment, but then eventually returned to home base in Georgia.

It was there that new Bills GM Buddy Nix found Gailey and he was named the head coach of the Bills on January.

And Sunday, he’s back in Kansas City with a 0-6 team and another journeyman quarterback that he’s turned into a more than competent NFL starter in Ryan Fitzpatrick.

This week, all the “right” words were being said by both Gailey and Haley. The Bills coach said he harbors no bitterness about what happened with the Chiefs.

“I understood exactly where Todd was coming from; he and I were on different pages, and he wanted to do it the way he wanted to do it, and I understand that completely,” Gailey said this week. “I’ve been there. I know exactly what was going on. There’s no hard feelings. Its business, I understand it. You go on with life. That’s the way it is.”

And here’s what Haley had to say: “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Gailey. It had nothing to do with coaching ability. When you do work as close as you have to work in this business, there needs to be a great fit. You’re talking about grown men that are going to live in offices for 15, 16, 17 hours a day 10 months a year, and you better all be able to function and work together.

“We were able to do that, but it was the fit aspect of it. That’s probably an underrated item in this league.”

The timing of Haley’s decision left everyone in the NFL scratching their head. Gailey has said that when he walked into the building that last day of August, he wasn’t expecting to be leaving without a job.

“The timing was unusual,” said Gailey. “It wasn’t unusual that it happened.”

Gailey spent time with his family, played some golf and then got the chance to get back into the NFL in a big way. He was the surprise choice of the Bills as head coach and he put together a coaching staff that includes four men he worked with at Arrowhead: Bob Bicknell, Curtis Modkins, Joe D’Alessandris and Kevin Patullo.

He inherited a team that has been struggling for some time, especially on offense. Over the last seven years, the Bills averaged a No. 28 ranking in net offensive yards each season. The quarterback position was the biggest hole in the roster. Since Jim Kelly’s last season in 1996 the Bills have run nine different quarterbacks through the starting job: Todd Collins, Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, Alex Van Pelt, Drew Bledsoe, Kelly Holcombe, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards and now Ryan Fitzpatrick (left).

Throughout his NFL coaching career, Gailey has been a coach who has always gotten more out of ordinary quarterbacks. Chiefs fans saw that in 2008 when he took Tyler Thigpen, altered the offense and by the end of the season had a productive quarterback and offense. As offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh he helped make something out of Kordell “Slash” Stewart.

Now he’s making it happen with Fitzpatrick, a once seventh-round draft choice out of that football factory known as Harvard. Selected by the Rams, he spent two years there, then two years with the Cincinnati Bengals and he was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Bills in 2009.

The Gailey effect? Last year, Fitzpatrick’s passer rating in starting eight games was 69.7 with 9 TD passes and 10 interceptions. This year, Fitzpatrick became the Bills starter in the third game of the season and he’s elevated himself with a 102 passer rating to second this week in the league behind only Peyton Manning. He’s thrown 11 TD passes to four interceptions. He’s completing 63.3 percent of his passes for an average of 7.57 yards per attempt. Only Drew Brees has been a better passer than Fitzpatrick on third down.

“Chan is doing a good job with the guy,” said defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. “Chan has a good track record. There are a lot of good football coaches who work with quarterbacks in this league, but I think Chan is among the top.”

Despite that 0-6 record, Fitzpatrick left the Chiefs impressed as they watched tape of the season.

“He is a quick thrower, the ball comes out fast, has no fear and once he makes a decision it is coming out,” Haley said this week. “Those are dangerous quarterbacks to play against because the ball does come out quick.

“In addition, he’s clearly the best blocking quarterback in the league, which as you watch the tape of Fitzpatrick out there in front of these runs, it’s really, really impressive and it’s not just a one or two-time thing, it happens all the time, so they essentially gain an extra blocker. You can’t do that with many quarterbacks in the league, so he is a dangerous player – he can hurt you with his feet, he can hurt you blocking and he can obviously hurt you throwing as he showed the last couple weeks.”

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29

  • BENGALS – signed S Rico Murray off their practice squad.
  • BUCCANEERS – released G Keydrick Vincent; signed OT Will Barker off their practice squad.
  • CHARGERS – restricted free agent WR Vincent Jackson reported to the team and signed his tender offer on Friday. He’ll miss the next three games before he’s eligible to be returned to the active roster.
  • JAGUARS – signed LB Jacob Cutrera off their practice squad; released QB Patrick Ramsey.
  • RAIDERS – Jason Campbell will start at quarterback on Sunday vs. Seattle.
  • VIKINGS – the NFL fined WR Randy Moss $25,000 for his refusal to speak with the media in Minnesota for the past three weeks; the NFL fined RT Phil Loadholt $20,000 for grabbing a face mask in last Sunday’s game against the Packers. It’s the third time this season that Loadholt has been fined for face mask grabs.

7 Responses to “Chan’s Gets A Chance … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 30, 2010  - Dave says:

    I wish Gailey great success, just not this week.


  • October 30, 2010  - RW says:

    Some general, somewhat related thoughts on Buffalo and Gailey. For all intents and purposes, Buffalo has emerged as the Siberia of the NFL which is interesting that such a small rust belt upper Midwest city has a NFL franchise while far more lucrative markets such as LA (obviously), Portland OR, Tidewater VA and Memphis do not.

    One has to wonder about the future of the franchise once the 90 year old owner, Ralph Wilson, finally takes that eternal dirt nap. I’ve heard and read that Gailey got the job because other viable head coaching candidates turned down the job interview because it was in…(gulp) Buffalo.

    This, coupled with last years unexpected Gailey firing, sets up a perfect “Us against the World” theme for Gailey to drive home with his players. Football is a game of emotion so this causes concern. That, plus the fact that Buffalo gave Baltimore all they wanted last week should alert us all that this is hardly a gimme game.

    Still, I like the new young Chiefs to get the W but it won’t be a walkover.


  • October 30, 2010  - John says:

    Ok, first off while the timing was a little odd, I am pretty sure that 99 percent of the Chiefs fandom are pretty happy that Haley did what he did. We would not be anywhere close to where we are right now offensively had it not happened.

    Absolutely nothing against Chan Gailey, but really, are we going to pull up the 2008 season as a backdrop for success? We won 2 games that year. 2! Yeah, Thiggy and the offense moved the ball. Yeah, they scored some points. What they didn’t do was win. One could easily say that Haley did a better job as HC and OC than Chan did in 2008 as the OC by 2 extra wins.

    Oh, and to try and say that Chan has a vendetta and was trying to hide it and play nice in the media circles…the guy wants to win obviously. Even if things hadn’t transpired the way they did and KC and the Hunts had given Chan a parade on the way out of town, he still would want to come in here and beat us. Even if they were 5-1, he would still do everything in his power to come in here and beat us.

    Sorry Bob, but today you come across as bad journalism, just trying to stir the pot a little.

    He has changed things to help the QB’s ratings and that is great, but what he hasn’t done is win a game yet with his coaching this year. I wish him the best of luck and hope that he gets some wins, just not this week.

    Ok, I am done rambling. Guess the way I read the story just rubbed me the wrong way this morning. Hopefully no offense to anybody.


  • October 30, 2010  - dan says:

    The Toronto Bills soon??


  • October 30, 2010  - el cid says:

    RW, lot of truth but “upper Midwest city”? Where are you posting from?

    My two cents, as long as the tv money rolls in and the owner is satisfied, Buffalo is as good as any place. I sort of think the armpit of pro football is LA. How many teams failed there, 4 or 5?


  • October 30, 2010  - Dave says:

    John, no offense taken, but I enjoyed the piece quite a bit. Gailey is first and foremost a human being, and I don’t see anything wrong with inferring what must be going on in his head.


  • October 31, 2010  - Tracy says:

    The Bills’ calling Buffalo home is due simply to the fact that Ralph Wilson was one of Lamar Hunt’s early collaborators when the AFL was founded. Just what his ties to Buffalo are, I don’t know. However, he has certainly proven to be an owner who appreciates his fan base. There are a good number now who likely would have left Buffalo before now if given the opportunity




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