Early this morning the Browns fired Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert, two moves that were greeted with no surprise whatsoever. They were partly the product of nine wins over two seasons in Cleveland, but also the simple changing of bodies that was well known and forthcoming when Jimmy Haslam took over as the new Browns owner.
Andy Reid’s firing was greeted with more meh, although the story there is more compelling due to both his long tenure in Philadelphia, and his sustained success that started a decade ago.
But Chan Gailey? A week from now Bills fans will forget who he is, or at least they’ll try to and fail. The steaming excrement he’s left behind will not settle easily. We can begin the toxic cleanup now, though, because he’s been fired. Mercifully, it’s over.
Gailey is a dinosaur of the creakiest kind. His record alone during his Bills tenure (15-32) is more than enough to justify a dismissal, but it’s what led to that mediocrity that’s especially maddening. He viewed change as evil. It was the devil, and anyone advocating for it was branded as satan’s minions.
This was highlighted by the inconsistent workload given to C.J. Spiller, and Gailey’s refusal to acknowledge that giving the ball to the best player on his offense may be a neat idea. Spiller nearly set the single-season record for average yards per carry, as he came into yesterday’s game chugging along at 6.48, ahead of Jim Brown’s 6.4. Unfortunately, his 59 yards on 24 carries during a win over the Jets dropped that average to six yards. Yep, only six yards per carry. What a hack, says Chan Gailey.
Of course, that stat makes no mention of Spiller’s 66-yard touchdown catch and run yesterday, a score that was one last “see, look what you’ve done!” to Gailey before his exit. Spiller only received consistent carries and touches once Fred Jackson was injured and out for the season. Prior to that it was a near even split, even though Jackson was averaging only 3.8 yards per carry. Yes, over two yards lower.
I’ve made no mention of Ryan Fitzpatrick yet, and Gailey’s stubborn idiocy with his quarterback who has been equal parts inaccurate and infuriorating. That was a significant error too, but really, it falls more on the shoulders of general manager Buddy Nix. Beyond Fitz, Tarvaris Jackson wasn’t the answer in Seattle, and he isn’t in Buffalo either. Or anywhere.
That leads to the next question: how the hell is Nix keeping his job?
Gailey met with the media on his way out, and announced that his entire coaching staff has also been relived of their duties, which accounts for another area the head coach had little control over: defense. Dave Wannstedt presided over a unit that was gashed on the ground, giving up 145.8 rushing yards per game.
And so a season of change begins again in Buffalo, just as it has so many times on a snowy and cold late December or early January Monday morning. The Bills will search for their fifth head coach over the past 10 years. In doing so, they’ll also continue their endless search for respect.