When the Bills stepped out on the field against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, they didn’t know that was the only opponent they were facing. They were also up against a formidable opponent in their own head coach, Chan Gailey. The Bills’ coach has been under fire lately and deservedly so. He has repeatedly undermined the team to the point where one should question his intentions. The Bills ended up losing to the Rams 15-12 and Chan Gailey is to blame.
Week in and week out, we have to listen to the excuse of a coach we call Chan Gailey. He may have been cited as on offensive genius (in the past), but that is probably because he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. When he first became the coach of the Bills, he brought an exciting and explosive offense that scored points. They were unpredictable, up-tempo, and gave teams nightmares to scheme against. All opposing teams have to do now is ask any Bill’s fan what is the set and the fan can pretty much tell you the play. He has become that predictable. Without allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick the ability to audible (starting this season), it allows the opposing defense to sit on passing routes.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the smartest football players to ever play the game, yet Gailey will not give him the latitude to change plays on the fly. He may not have the football IQ, but he did graduate from Harvard (something we are reminded of numerous times every week). He is no Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but he should have the ability to call an audible. What happens when Gailey calls for a pass play and the defense is set-up perfectly against the play, but they are vulnerable to the run? By not changing the plays at the line, the Bills are allowing the opposing defenses to dictate the play calling. By that I mean, defensive coaches will look at Gailey’s play calling statistics and use it against him. He will only be helpless and fall into his own trap. On plays 2nd and 7 or longer, Chan Gailey dials up the pass roughly 70% of the time. The opposing team will use this and call a play to defend the pass. Instead of allowing Fitzpatrick the ability to audible to a run, he passes. This may not be the actual percentage; however without being closer to 50/50 on the pass to run ratio, then teams will play the odds.
The problem with Ryan Fitzpatrick is that he is not a starter in the NFL. He lacks the big arm to stretch the defense and the accuracy needed to keep defenses honest. Whenever Chan Gailey has to put the game onto Fitzpatrick’s shoulders, he has failed miserably. Since joining the Bills, he has 4 fourth quarter comebacks and 5 game winning drives in 50 games. By comparison, Andrew Luck, ROOKIE for the Colts, already has 3 fourth quarter comebacks and 5 game winning drives in 13 games. When the game is on the line, Fitzpatrick is destined to end the game in an interception and this week was no different. Towards the end of the game, he consistently threw the ball to TJ Graham who was not open or was running the wrong pattern. On the game-ending interception, Graham was running a fly pattern and Fitzpatrick threw a sideline pass. Even though Fitzpatrick’s arm was hit, he would have thrown the ball away or thrown interception on the sideline. This is the second time this year that Fitzpatrick has tried to throw to TJ Graham that ended the game with an interception because Graham ran the wrong route.
The one bright spot of the Bills was their defense. The defense harassed Sam Bradford all day and Mario Williams tallied the lone sack. The Bills defense also stifled Steven Jackson to only 64 yards rushing on 19 carries. Jeff Fisher, the Ram’s coach, kept to his game plan and kept trying to run the ball. His counterpart, Chan Gailey, gave up on the run once again. Unfortunately, the Bills defense couldn’t hold up and let in the go ahead touchdown with less than a minute left in the game. Sam Bradford connected on a pass to Brandon Gibson for the touchdown and then hit Chris Givens on the two point conversion to go up 15-12.
The Bills lost by 3 points, but it could have been a tied game. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Bills were at the Rams’ 34. It was fourth down and the kick team went out for a 52 yard field goal attempt. Gailey then called timeout and decided to punt the ball. Rian Lindell was visibly upset with the decision and it cost the Bills dearly. Chan Gailey has become so conservative that it appears he is trying to get fired. His decisions are irrational and players are walking a fine line when they speak to the media. Gailey also abandoned the run once again with CJ Spiller getting a total of 8 touches. Spiller gained a total of 52 yards. Gailey consistently takes the ball away from the most dynamic players in the game and the frustration is growing. In the end, the demise of Chan Gailey may be a mutiny from the fans, but more so a mutiny from the players.
– Johnny Devine
Final Score: 15-12 Bills Record: 5-8
Injury Update: Fred Jackson left the game with a knee injury. It was confirmed today that he will not return this season. He wasn’t injured on the play in the picture. That was just a really awesome, text book, extra effort Fred Jackson play.