ORCHARD PARK — To Chan Gailey, the explanation is simple.
When you ask him if serving as both the Bills’ head coach and offensive coordinator is too much, he responds, “I’ve done this my whole career ... this is the way I’ve always done it. I don’t see that as something that changes now.”
OK Chan, but maybe that’s why you were fired by the Cowboys and Georgia Tech.
And today it won’t be hard to find fans who feel you should also be the ex-Buffalo coach.
It’s been building for weeks ... the Bills’ faithful wearying of Gailey’s arrogant play-calling, horrible clock management and quizzical decision-making followed by his inevitable cliched excuses and explanations.
But Sunday was the worst.
Buffalo’s 15-12 loss to St. Louis at “The Ralph” — the winning TD coming with 48 seconds to play — was totally on Gailey.
And, if he’s back next season — no matter how adamantly general manager Buddy Nix defends him — even Russ Salvatore doesn’t have enough money to buy up the vacant seats for local telecasts.
Four times the Bills faced 3rd-and-4, or less, and Gailey called a pass every time.
That despite the presence of running back C.J. Spiller, merely the NFL leader in yards per carry (6.6), who handled the ball a mere eight times.
Eight touches (seven runs, one catch) for 52 yards or 6 1/2 per.
Fred Jackson had nine carries for 14 yards, plus five receptions for 16 more ... 2.1 per touch.
Gailey’s reasoning for one of the NFL’s most potent weapons being treated as an afterthought?
“He had two good runs (13 yarders on the first possession of the second half) ... (but) he gets winded and he comes out,” Gailey said. “We just put Fred in there. It worked out that the next couple of carries we got behind the sticks on runs (Spiller actually had only one more for a yard) ... that’s just the way it works out.
“It was not happening after that first drive of the second half (the Bills ran only seven times the rest of the way, two of them desperation scrambles by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick). We were trying to run the football (and) it was Fred’s turn. (We were) trying to keep them both fresh.”
For what ... the playoffs?
HORRIBLE clock management?
With 1:15 to play before halftime and all three timeouts, Buffalo, after an interception, had the ball at the St. Louis 49.
After two quick first downs, one of which was followed by a timeout, a draw play lost a yard and a dump pass gained two.
A TO followed each of those and, with 11 seconds left, on third down, Rian Lindell kicked a 40-yard field goal.
The final timeout was ridiculous — even moreso than the overly conservative previous two calls that clearly had no touchdown intent. Eleven seconds was plenty of time to take a shot in the end zone. But if you’re playing for a field goal, which Gailey clearly was, why not let the clock run down before using the timeout, so a kickoff isn’t necessary?
That’s elementary strategy ... even high school coaches know that.
After a botched St. Louis punt, leading 12-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Bills faced 4th-and-7 at the St. Louis 34.
Gailey sent out the field goal unit to try a 52-yarder, then called time, and elected to punt.
Lindell stalked off the field furious and left the fans wondering about Gailey’s confidence in his kicker . After all, this is the coach who declined to let him try a 52-yarder in perfect indoor conditions at Indianapolis, but sent him out to hit a 50-yarder in the wind and rain a week ago against Jacksonville.
Then, of course, there’s the obvious question of why a timeout would be burned if the Bills were going to punt anyway. A 5-yard delay of game penalty certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
“We were not going to go (needing seven yards on fourth down),” he said. “The defense was playing good ... we were trying to pin them back.
“They first told me it was a 50-yard field goal instead of 52 or 53. We had just dropped the snap on the extra point, so that’s why I pulled (the field goal team) back out of there and said, ‘Let’s let the defense try to keep them pinned back.’”
Of course such decisions are why the Bills are 5-8 and the fans are beyond frustrated, hoping that games like Sunday’s buy Gailey a ticket out of Buffalo.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)