Bills hire Chan Gailey as head coach
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Chan Gailey was hired by the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, getting a second chance to prove himself as an NFL coach and inheriting a team that has missed the playoffs for 10 straight years.
Gailey was introduced by general manager Buddy Nix at a new conference which ended a two-month search to replace Dick Jauron, who was fired in November. Gailey takes over a team that finished 6-10 and becomes the Bills’ fifth coach since Marv Levy retired after the 1997 season.
Gailey has spent 15 of his 38 years of coaching in the NFL. In his two years coaching the Dallas Cowboys, he went 18-14 and led the team to consecutive playoff appearances – both losses. He was dismissed after the 1999 season, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has acknowledged his mistake in firing Gailey.
The 58-year-old Gailey acknowledged he didn’t know if he’d get another opportunity to be a head coach again.
“If you sit there and say you lose confidence in yourself, no you don’t. But then you see opportunities go by. And you hope that your body of work will speak for itself,” Gailey said.
For Nix, it was Gailey’s extensive background that impressed him and met most of the criteria the GM set out when he took over the search two weeks ago.
Nix was eager to find someone with previous head-coaching experience and an offensive background.
“This guy met more of the criteria than I thought we could find,” Nix said. “And this guy’s won everywhere he’s been. … He’ll get us back to winning and get to where we want to go.”
Gailey said he intends to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator, and is now assembling a staff.
Gailey has been out of football since he was removed as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator in August, two weeks before the season opener. He was entering his second season with Kansas City after a six-year stretch as Georgia Tech’s coach, during which he went 44-33 before being fired in 2007.
The Bills hit several bumps during their coaching search. They spoke with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher in an attempt to lure him out of broadcasting. The team also interviewed former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who instead chose to coach the Washington Redskins. Last week, Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer rejected the Bills’ request for an interview.
Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was considered the top candidate after interviewing two weeks ago. Frazier’s stock appeared to climb even further after his defense shut down the Cowboys in Minnesota’s 34-3 win in the playoffs Sunday.
Gailey has run college and pro teams, including a two-year stint as coach of the World League of American Football Birmingham Fire in 1991-92. He also coached Troy State (1983-84) and Samford (1993).
At Georgia Tech, Gailey led the Yellow Jackets to six bowl appearances, but his time there ended after a 7-5 finish and going 0-6 against rival Georgia.
With Buffalo, Gailey’s top priority will be sparking an offense that has finished 25th or worst in yards gained in each of the past seven seasons.
Finding a franchise quarterback would help, too. A combination of injuries and futility led to the Bills to go through three starters this past year. The team has not had a starting quarterback stay for more than three years since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.
Gailey would also need to warm up to Bills fans, who spent the past two weeks clamoring for the team to hire Cowher. Fans raised $1,125 to rent a billboard in Buffalo last week urging team owner Ralph Wilson to hire Cowher.
AP Sports Writer Jaime Aron in Dallas contributed to this report.