NFL: Chan Gailey coaching up the Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills, void of a winning record since 2004 and void of a playoff berth since the victimized Music City Miracle team of 1999, are 3-0 after their stirring 34-31 victory over the Patriots on Sunday. Chan Gailey is Buffalo’s coach. It’s not a coincidence.
Gailey can coach pro football. College, I don’t know about. Gailey was head coach at Georgia Tech from 2002 through 2007; his predecessor, George O’Leary, did a better job, and so has Gailey’s successor, Paul Johnson.
But Gailey did an excellent job in two years as the Dallas Cowboy coach, 1998 and 1999. The Cowboys went 10-6 and 8-8 in Gailey’s two years, making the playoffs both years. Dallas lost at home to Arizona in the 1998 postseason (unforgivable) and at Minnesota in the 1999 postseason (that’s a pass).
That wasn’t good enough for Jerry Jones, and truthfully, most people agreed with Jones’ decision to fire Gailey after that Viking game. History has proven that to be a bad move.
In Dallas’ final two seasons under Barry Switzer, the Cowboys went 17-17: a 10-6 record, with a 1-1 playoff showing, in 1996, then 6-10 in 1997. The Cowboys clearly were a team in decline, with those great players from 1992-95 starting to age.
In Dallas’ three seasons under Dave Campo, who followed Gailey, the Cowboys went 5-11, 5-11, 5-11. So in the context of what he had, Gailey was a solid Cowboy coach.
And now he’s suddenly made Buffalo relevant. The Bills were 4-12 last season in Gailey’s first year, but at 3-0, Buffalo can equal its 2010 victory total with a victory Sunday at Cincinnati.
Don’t rule out Buffalo making the playoffs. The Bills won’t finish ahead of New England, and one of the wild-card spots is reserved for the Pittsburgh/Baltimore second-place finisher. But that leaves Buffalo having to beat out the Jets and Raiders. Not easy, but doable. Who else? Tennessee? Denver? I don’t think so.
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