Please welcome Steve Brown to the Billsmafia.com blogger crew. Steve approached me (Del) yesterday with an idea for a post that was admittedly “not a popular opinion.” I agreed to post it and now it’s up to you read it and weigh in. Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts on Steve’s take!
The Buffalo Bills have been stuck in mediocrity for 13 years. They have not been good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to garner a top 3 draft choice. They never hit rock bottom but have barely sniffed the playoffs. Buddy Nix has asked for the proud fans of this team to be patient.
Buffalo Bills fans have been patient. If it wasn’t for their extreme loyalty this teams fan base would not have persevered. They continue to do well at the gate despite their failures to compete. Every state in the country seems to have loyal Buffalo Bills backers filling bars and restaurants every Sunday all hoping to see this team regain its previous glory.
In Nix’s defense he hasn’t been leading this team for the past 13 years, he has only had 3. The patience he is asking for is necessary. Nix has improved this team’s talent level and it is only a matter of time before it shows in the win loss column. That brings us to Chan Gailey.
Nix preaches consistency as the key to a turn around. My research shows that he just might be right. It takes time to turn around an NFL teams fortunes. How much time? Well, it seems 4+ years is a good estimate. Stability is a key ingredient to success in the NFL. However in a “what have you done for me lately?” league patience is not something that fans are willing to give.
Bills fans are calling for Gailey’s job as they did with the coaches before him. The last coach to complete a 4th season with the Bills was Marv Levy who combined with 4th year GM Bill Polian led that team to the Super Bowl in their 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th seasons with the team.
You don’t need to only look at past Bills teams to find the pot of gold after year 4. Jimmy Johnson took over a dismal Dallas Cowboys team and led them to the Super Bowl in his 4th year at the helm. Ex Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher made his first Super Bowl appearance with the Steelers in his 4th year. His Predecessor, Chuck Knoll, was 14-30 before enjoying his first winning season and then went on to win Super Bowls in his 6th, 7th, 10th and 11th seasons. Patience was paramount to the success of these coaches.
You can certainly find examples of coaches having success in years 1-3 but I assure you this is the exception and not the rule. Jon Gruden inherited Tony Dungy’s Buc’s and won a Super Bowl in his first year as head man. Gruden also kept Dungy’s defense staff in place. He simply provided the necessary ingredient to get enough out of that offense to win a Super Bowl. That team did not need to be rebuilt. The aforementioned Dungy had his best record with the Bucs in year 4 and with the Colts, year 4.
The examples are endless.
It took Tom Coughlin 3 years in Jacksonville to have a winning season. His 4th year in New York produced a Super Bowl. Mike Dikta’s 4th year with the Bears saw his team do the Super Bowl shuffle. Jeff Fisher spent 5 years battling through losing seasons with the Oilers/Titan before their Super Bowl appearance in his sixth season. It took Mike Holmgren 4 years to reach 10 wins in a season and in his fifth he won a Super Bowl with the Packers. Holmgren then went to coach the Seahawks and in year 5 finally hit the 10 win mark, in year 7 he made an appearance in the Super Bowl. Bill Parcells went to the Super Bowl in his 4th year with the Giants and the Patriots. What did Sean Payton do with his 4th year for the Saints, he won the Super Bowl.
When systems are constantly changing it is difficult to compete at a high level. This Buffalo Bills team is on the right track. The talent level is higher; the offense is competing with holes at WR and an average QB. The defense, in its first year under Dave Wannestedt, has greatly improved in the second half of this season.
Gailey has made mistakes and cost his team games. He has also made decisions that have won this team games. Give him more time and we will see more of the latter. Every coach makes bad decisions the ones who become great learn from them. If we start over again, the cycle will continue and this playoff drought may never end.
All we need is patience.
What do you think? Does Chan Gailey just need a fourth year? Or is it time for Nix to make a move at the head coaching position?