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More from Gailey on O-line, defensive personnel and more

Bills coach Chan Gailey addresses a number of topics from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Gailey on the O-line and AFC East

Gailey on defensive personnel and Marshawn Lynch

---Mark Gaughan

Gailey on Schobel, RBs and more

Bills coach Chan Gailey touched on several hot topics at the combine in Indianapolis.

Gailey on Aaron Schobel

Gailey on the Bills' running back situation

---Mark Gaughan

DeHaven: Saints onsides kick not surprising

The New Orleans Saints' on-sides kickoff to open the second half of Super Bowl XLIV certainly caught the Indianapolis Colts, not to mention most spectators in Sun Life Stadium and millions of television viewers, off guard. But Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven said he wasn't the least bit surprised given his knowledge of Saints head coach Sean Payton.

“I coached with Sean for three years down in Dallas and I know his personality and I was not surprised at all that you got something like that from him,'' DeHaven said. "That’s the deal in this league, there are big risks and big rewards in those situations.”

However, there is a downside to such a risk. If the Colts had recovered the kickoff, they would have gotten the ball near midfield and given quarterback Peyton Manning a chance to extend a 10-6 lead and regain momentum. If that happened, Payton's call wouldn't have been so smart.

“He’s the goat if they don’t get the on-sides kick,” DeHaven said. "And forever people are talking about what a bad decision that was to kick that on-sides kick.”

Judging from his comments during last week's meet-and-greet with the local media, DeHaven would not have been so aggressive in that situation.

"I'm probably more conservative in my approach than some special team coaches,'' he said. "You're probably not going to see a lot of on-side kicks and wild reverses and fakes and that kind of thing from me as you would see from other coaches in the league.''  

That doesn't mean we've seen the last of punter/holder Brian Moorman throwing touchdown passes or running for first downs on fake field goals and punts. You can be sure that DeHaven has some gadgets in his playbook. And if he has a game situation where a trick play would work, he won't hesitate to use it.

---Allen Wilson 

Bills earn high special teams rating again

The Buffalo Bills ended arguably the best decade of special teams play in NFL history by finishing third in the annual rankings compiled by The Dallas Morning News, which is considered by special teams coaches as the league standard.

It is the sixth consecutive season the Bills were ranked fourth or higher. They were No. 1 in 2004, 2005 and 2008. The Bills' rise to elite status coincided with the arrival of special teams coordinator Bobby April, who stepped down after the season and has joined the Philadelphia Eagles.

April came to Buffalo after a four-year stretch where the Bills' special teams were among the NFL's worst.
Interestingly, the slide occurred after Bruce DeHaven was fired as the scapegoat of the "Music City Miracle'' kickoff return that gave the Tennessee Titans an improbable victory in the 1999 wildcard playoffs.
 
DeHaven returns to the Bills, where he established an excellent track record from 1987-99. But April is going to be a really tough act to follow.

---Allen Wilson
 
 

Gailey hires assistants

When Bills head coach Chan Gailey said some of his assistant coaches wouldn't have recognizable names, he meant it.

Joining his staff are Curtis Modkins (offensive coordinator/running backs coach), Bob Bicknell (tight ends), Joe D'Alessandris (offensive line), Kevin Patullo (offensive quality control) and Giff Smith (outside linebackers).

If you knew anything about these guys prior to Gailey hiring them, then you know your football (or you need to get out of the house more often). Gailey did keep two well-known members of Dick Jauron's staff, secondary coach George Catavolos and defensive line coach Bob Sanders. 

Familiarity is a major theme in the Bills' hiring practices. Owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. chose Buddy Nix as general manager because of Wilson's familiarity with the long-time scout. Nix picked Chan Gailey as head coach because they go way back. So it was reasonable to assume Gailey will fill his staff with guys he knows well.

Modkins, Bicknell, D'Alessandris, Patullo and Smith worked with or for Gailey at Kansas City and/or Georgia Tech.

Gailey still has spots to fill, including defensive coordinator. No word on how close he is to hiring someone.

---Allen Wilson   

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Pees a DC candidate?

Bills head coach Chan Gailey hasn't named a defensive coordinator yet, but according to the Boston Herald, former New England DC Dean Pees is in the running for the job.

Pees spent the last six years in New England, including the last four as defensive coordinator. He originally joined Bill Belichick's staff as a linebackers coach. Pees' contract expires after this season and he chose not to return. But he said he would keep his options open if other teams came calling.

Pees was believed to be a lock for the Denver job since he and Broncos coach Josh McDaniels worked together in New England. But McDaniels reportedly is going to promote linebackers coach Don Martindale.

Pees has 37 years of coaching experience, in 31 in the college ranks. He was head coach at Kent State for six years before getting his first NFL job with the Patriots.

If Gailey hired Pees is would be another sign that Gailey will switch to a 3-4 defense next season. The Bills haven't run a 3-4 since 2000, Wade Phillips' last year as head coach.

---Allen Wilson

Has Gailey found his OC?

Radio station XTRA 910 in Phoenix is reporting that Arizona Cardinals running backs coach Curtis Modkins will be the Bills' offensive coordinator.
 
The Bills haven't made any official announcement on Chan Gailey's staff hires, but Modkins' connection with Gailey runs deep.

Prior to working in Arizona, Modkins spent the 2008 season with Kansas City, where Gailey was the offensive coordinator. Modkins served an NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship in the summer of '99 with the Dallas Cowboys when Gailey was the head coach and worked for Gailey at Georgia Tech, coaching defensive backs in 2002 and running backs from 2003-07. 

In addition to Georgia Tech, Modkins was an assistant at New Mexico (1998-01) and Texas Christian (1995-97), where he played running back from 1989-92.

Modkins has never been an offensive coordinator, but that doesn't matter to Gailey, who plays to run the offense this season.

---Allen Wilson

Tolbert lands on his feet

Knowing his chances of returning to the Bills were slim, receivers coach Tyke Tolbert chose the sure thing and signed with the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday.

Tolbert also had interest from Tampa Bay and St. Louis. He talked to new Bills coach Chan Gailey, but a spot on Gailey's staff wasn't guaranteed. But Carolina is a nice landing spot. Head coach John Fox is under a lot of heat after failing the reach the playoffs coming off a year when the Panthers won the NFC South. But this is a talented team that should rebound.

Tolbert, who has worked with Anquan Boldin in Arizona and Lee Evans and Terrell Owens in Buffalo, now gets to work with Panthers star Steve Smith.

Tolbert is the third member of Dick Jauron's staff to find another job, joining defensive coordinator Perry Fewell (New York Giants), special teams coach Bobby April (Philadelphia). The Denver Post is reporting running backs coach Eric Studesville has agreed to take the same job with the Broncos.

---Allen Wilson

Billick miffed

The Buffalo Bills didn't interview Brian Billick for their head coaching position, and he is not happy about it. In an interview with television station WGRZ (Channel 2), Billick wondered why someone with his credentials wasn't contacted by Bills General Manager Buddy Nix to come in for an interview.

"I just wanted to make sure I was clear that [Nix] had not called,'' Billick told the NBC affiliate. "Why he had not called a coach with a Super Bowl ring, 10 wins a year for nine years, having orchestrated the highest-scoring offense (1998 Vikings) and defense in the history of the league, is a question worth asking. But I never spoke with Mr. Nix.''

Contrary to reports out of New York, Marty Schottenheimer also wanted the Bills' job, according to ESPN.com blogger Tim Graham. But Schottenheimer was never contacted.

Billick's credentials are far better than Chan Gailey's, but Billick never enjoyed the same offensive success in Baltimore that he had when coaching Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Robert Smith and Randall Cunningham in Minnesota, which set the NFL scoring record in 1998 (the 2007 Patriots broke the record). Billick's Ravens offenses were barely above average and he made a number of poor decisions at quarterback (Kyle Boller a prime example). Most of Billick's success was helped by a dominant Ravens defense.

That said, the Bills should have at least interviewed Billick, Schottenheimer and even Jim Fassel. Maybe Gailey will do well. If he doesn't, Nix will take the blame for narrowing his search once Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden were out of the picture (Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh also reportedly said no).

---Allen Wilson

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