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Mularkey a Bills rarity

---When Mike Mularkey officially became the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, he joined scarce group of ex-Bills coaches.

Mularkey became only the fourth coach to land a head coaching job with another NFL team after leaving (resigning/fired) Buffalo, joining Lou Saban, Chuck Knox and Wade Phillips.

Saban was first the Bills coach from 1962-65 then coached Denver from 1967-71 before returning to Buffalo from 1972-76. Knox took over from 1978-82 then went to Seattle in 1983 and lasted until the 1991 season. Knox then coached the Los Angeles Rams for three seasons (1992-94).

Wade Phillips had a three year record of 29-19 with the Bills from 1998-00. He was the interim coach in Atlanta in 2003 (2-1) before leading Dallas from 2007 through the first eight games of 2010.

The Bills finished 11-5 under Phillips in 1999 and have finished above .500 only once since: In 2004 with Mularkey (9-7).

---Rookie Marcell Dareus was selected to the National Football Post’s All-Rookie Team. Dareus finished sixth among rookie defensive linemen with 43 tackles (32 solo) and registered 5.5 sacks, the most by a Bills rookie since Aaron Schobel (6.5) in 2001.

---Corner Leodis McKelvin tweets his picture just before shoulder surgery on Tuesday.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Whitner: Gailey routinely assigned blame

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---Former Bills safety Donte Whitner voiced his displeasure once again with his former team and coach Chan Gailey.

Whitner, pictured above, said playing for San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh is a welcome change after playing for Gailey last year. Gailey, he said, routinely assigned blame to the Bills during their 4-12 season.

Jets coach Rex Ryan, Whitner said, "will never throw his players under the bus, and he puts all the pressure on himself. Coach Harbaugh does the same thing."

"A lot of coaches, when they don't want the pressure on them, don't want the hands pointed at them or the media to turn on them, they put things out to the media that really shouldn't be out there. 'Oh, this guy should have made this play or he should have done this.' That stuff never works, and players really understand that and locker rooms understand that."

Back in November, Whitner said in an interview with Pro Football Talk that the Bills didn't show they wanted to win. Whitner played from 2006-10 with the Bills, who made him a first-round pick in the '06 draft.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

CFL's Tiger-Cats hire Cortez

---The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have hired Bills quarterbacks coach George Cortez as their new coach and director of football operations. 

Cortez was with the Bills for two seasons and has extensive CFL experience, most recently as offensive coordinator and associate head coach of Calgary from 2007-09, and has been a part of four Grey Cup-winning organizations.

"George did an excellent job during his time with us and I want to offer my congratulations to him in his new role as head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-cats," Bills coach Chan Gailey told Buffalo Bills.com. "We're excited for him with this new opportunity and wish him the best of luck."

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Stevie channels his inner Chan

Sorry for not posting this yesterday, as a nasty cold kept me from playing hurt, but Bills fans have to take a look at receiver Stevie Johnson's Halloween outfit. Here's the picture he posted on his Twitter account (@steviejohnson13).


Stevie

 

Yes, that's him dressed as coach Chan Gailey. Good stuff.

Here's how Gailey responded when asked if he'd seen the costume: "No I have not," the coach said. "I put that in the same category with the Megamind thing [the nickname Johnson gave Gailey last week]. He's got too much time on his hands."

Johnson's teammates were at least impressed.

"Oh yeah I saw it. It was good. It was pretty funny. Somehow, I don’t know how Stevie makes every outfit he wears look cool," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "Not to say that Chan (Gailey) doesn’t look cool, but that vest, Stevie made it look cool."

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

 

Bills Replay video chat with Jay Skurski and Milt Northrop

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News Sports Reporters Jay Skurski and Milt Northrop answered your questions submitted in the chat console below about the Bills and NFL.

Did Andre Reed reveal 2nd Rd pick?

There is so much information (and misinformation) leading up to the draft, it's hard to separate fact from fiction. That's why a lot of Bills fans wonder if there is any truth to what former Bills wide receiver Andre Reed wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday.

Reed, who will announce the team's second-round pick in New York City next week, suggested that the Bills would use that pick on Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder.

"@cponder7 Lookin forward to calling your name Draft Day!!!!!!!!!Bills brash like ur style" Reed said.

Interestingly, the tweet was removed quickly. But you know how Twitter works. Once something is put out there, however brief, someone is going to see it and run with it.

Don't dismiss Reed's tweet entirely. The Bills spent more time with Ponder this offseason than any other quarterback, beginning at the Senior Bowl when he played for the coaching staff. Ponder also met with the Bills at the NFL Scouting Combine and they brought him to Buffalo for another pre-draft visit. Also, Bills head coach Chan Gailey and Ponder go back to Ponder's high school days when Gailey tried to recruit him while coaching at Georgia Tech.
 
The most likely scenario still has the Bills taking a quarterback with the third overall pick, assuming Auburn's Cam Newton is available. If he's gone, the Bills might use their first pick on a defensive player. That means they could target quarterback in Round Two or use that 34th selection to trade into the back end of the first round, especially if there is a run on quarterbacks as some people suspect.

Since the Bills like Ponder, it's not that far-fetched they would pull the trigger if they have a shot at him late in the first round or early in the second.

---Allen Wilson

Nix, Gailey address fans, talk Newton visit

Bills coach Chan Gailey and General Manager Buddy Nix addressed several hundred suite owners and premium seat holders during the annual "state of the team'' event at the Buffalo Hyatt Regency Monday night.

After talking to the fans, Gailey and Nix met briefly with the media and Auburn QB Cam Newton was the dominant topic. 

Heisman Trophy winner arrived Monday night, and according to some reports, had dinner with Bills coach Chan Gailey at a Buffalo restaurant. After taking a physical Tuesday morning, Newton will spend the day meeting with Gailey and the other coaches.

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix added that quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert of Missouri and Christian Ponder of Florida State also have scheduled visits. Newton and Gabbert are projected top-10 picks. Ponder is expected to go in the second or third round, but the Bills coaches got to work with him at the Senior Bowl. Nix also hasn't ruled out a couple more quarterbacks visiting One Bills Drive.

Gailey and Nix said quarterback is not the Bills' biggest need because they have veteran starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. But both men said the team has to strongly consider grabbing a potential franchise quarterback if they think he's available with the third pick in the draft.

"Let me just say this to you, and try not to read anything into this and try not to connect the dots, but if you wait until you do not have a quarterback to draft one, you're too late,” Nix said. "Now our greatest need is not quarterback. It's definitely not quarterback. Invariably, if there's going to be a franchise guy there and one we deem as a guy that can go eight or 10 years, be the face of the organization and take us to the playoffs and win every year, you can't pass him up."

Gailey echoed those thoughts: "I think what you’re trying to evaluate is if there is a guy at quarterback that you believe can be a franchise quarterback long term. You hope to never be picking three again and it’s your one opportunity to make that pick if that’s what you believe. If you don’t believe there’s a franchise quarterback for the future long term, we have other needs. It’s not like we don’t know we have other needs. We understand that. But you’re weighing what’s best for the franchise."

Nix joked to the fans that there's an unwritten rule that "it’s not a sin to tell a lie during pre-draft discussions. Everybody does it, it’s accepted. So everything you hear or read or see, you need to keep in mind that about 10 percent of it is the truth. Everybody tries to connect the dots.''

No doubt a lot of fans and media are trying to make a connection between the Bills and Newton. But just because Newton is in town doesn't mean he'll be playing here on Sundays this fall. The Bills bring in a lot of players they don't end up drafting. By the same token, they have drafted guys that never visited (Lee Evans for example).

Nix pointed out the Bills will be visiting with players at other positions, too. Outside linebacker Von Miller was in town recently and Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will be here at some point as well, according to Nix. Both players are top-10 prospects. Several national mock drafts that don't have the Bills taking Newton or Gabbert believe Miller or Dareus will be the choice at No. 3.

Meanwhile, Nix indicated he has a couple of pro day visits lined up this week. On Thursday, he's headed to North Carolina to see defensive end Robert Quinn and linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter. Quinn didn't play last season due to an NCAA suspension for illegal dealings with an agent, but he's one of the top players in the draft and a likely top-15 choice.

On Thursday, Nix will be at Clemson to take a look at DaQuan Bowers, the No. 1-rated defensive end in the draft. Bowers is still recovering from knee surgery that reportedly caused him to fail some teams' physicals. 

Nix said this is an important workout for Bowers, who was seen as a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick before his knee issue was revealed. 

"It's big for him," Nix said. "I'm not sure that you'd write him off if he's not completely healthy Friday. But it's time for him to show he either is healthy or that he needs more work and more time."

---Allen Wilson 

Breakfast with Gailey

NEW ORLEANS -- As promised, though long overdue, here are some highlights from my chat with Bills coach Chan Gailey during the NFL coaches breakfast at the owners meetings:

He said his coaching staff is working as they usually do while the owners and players try to work out their labor issues. No players are around because of the owner-imposed lockout, but Gailey said the coaches are dealing with that.

"If coaches are nothing else, we’re flexible,'' he said. "We have to be able to adjust. We adjust to the seasons, we adjust to games, we adjust all the time. That’s what we do. You just handle it."

Gailey added that the coaches are dealing with the reported pay cut, saying the organization did a good job of keeping them informed of what was going to happen.

Gailey was grilled on the draft, particularly the quarterback position. He did a good job of addressing the issue without giving anything away. While he reiterated that Ryan Fitzpatrick is his starter, if a franchise quarterback is available with the third pick in the draft, the Bills would strongly consider him.

There are only two choices that high in the first round: Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. A lot of mock drafts in cyberspace have the Bills taking Newton, but there was a lot of talk at the meetings this week about the Carolina Panthers leaning towards using the No. 1 overall selection on Newton. If that happens, it will be interesting to see if the Bills took Gabbert at No. 3 or addressed a need on defense like outside linebacker (Von Miller) or defensive line (Marcell Dareus or Nick Fairley).

Gailey was also asked about outside linebacker Aaron Maybin, the disappointing 2009 first-round pick that has bust written all over him. It looks like the Bills are going to give him one last chance to put up or shut up.

As for Gailey, who has never mince words in his assessment of Maybin, he said Maybin needs to get better on special teams, play the run better and develop better pass-rushing skills.

Asked about Maybin's potential, Gailey said, "Right now all it is is potential because he hasn't shown it in practice or in games.''

I asked Gailey if Maybin needed a fire lit under him. Gailey's response: "I don't think I've lit very many fires. We might provide a spark, but he's got to get his own fire going. He's got to understand where he is. I always talk to guys about 'This is where we are. This is where we want to be, and this is how we get there.' Individually, guys have got to do that. 'This is where I am. This is where I want to be. Now, how do I get there?'

"We tell him all the time how to get there. He's got to do it. Talking's over. You've got to go get it done."

Gailey and I talked about wide receiver Lee Evans and his lack of production the past two years. Gailey said teams continued to double cover Evans early in the season, but didn't do it as much by the middle of the year. Gailey wants Evans to improve his route running and Gailey said he needs to expand the kind of routes Evans runs.

"He’s been more of a deep threat," Gailey said. "I’ve got to get him to do a better job of becoming an underneath threat. I’ve got to do a better job of that."

---Allen Wilson





Gailey speaks

NEW ORLEANS -- I had a sit down with Bills coach Chan Gailey during the annual coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings Tuesday morning. I'm in the process of transcribing one hour's worth of his comments. When I'm done, I will give you some of the highlights, so stay tuned.

By the way, all the coaches were in attendance except New England's Bill Belichick. He spoke to reporters Monday, so I guess he felt his media obligation was fulfilled. Word is the NFL won't fine him for the no-show.

---Allen Wilson

Bills 27th in special teams ranking

No one has a better system of ranking special teams than Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. His system (ranks teams in 22 categories and assigned points according to their standing) is widely accepted by NFL special teams coaches as the league standard.

Rick's annual NFL special teams rankings were just released and the Bills are ranked just 27th out of the league's 32 teams.

This is quite a fall for the Bills, who ranked in the top four in the NFL each of the previous six seasons and finished No. 1 overall in 2004, 2005 and 2008.

They ranked 11th covering kickoffs (21.1-yard average) and tied for 20th on punts (9.3) in 2010. The Bills were solid returning punts (10.5-yard average tied for 13th in the league). They averaged just 21.1 yards on kickoff returns, but that was due in part to the opponents not kicking the ball deep.

One thing the Bills did well was avoiding bad plays. They didn't give up a touchdown on kickoff returns and allowed only two punt returns of over 20 yards. They also did a good job of putting the defense in bad spots.

Still, Gosselin's low rating means Bruce DeHaven and his players have some work to do to regain their lofty special teams ranking the team enjoyed under Bobby April.

---Allen Wilson

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