By Mark Gaughan
Let the house-cleaning begin.
The Buffalo Bills fired head coach Chan Gailey today after three unsuccessful seasons.
Gailey, 60, closed his Bills career with a 16-32 record. The rest of his coaching staff has been fired, too.
Video: Gailey's full statement
Jerry Sullivan's post-firing column: Right back to Square One
Related: Bills make it official: Gailey is fired • NFL Network's analysts' takes • Players' tweets about firing • Key dates for coaching search • Fitzpatrick not keen on being a backup
Next to go may well be General Manager Buddy Nix, who still was uncertain of his status as of Sunday’s season-ending game, in which the Bills defeated the New York Jets, 28-9. Nix was waiting on a meeting with owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. to decide his fate.
“The first thing I want to say is thanks to the Bills organization, to Buddy (Nix) and Mr. (Ralph) Wilson for the opportunity,” Gailey said. “I understand this is a business. We didn’t get the job done. I’ve been called two other times to get things turned around, was able to do it. We weren’t able to get this one done soon enough, and I understand that completely.”
Gailey appeared a bit choked up in talking about the Bills’ fans.
“I want to thank the fans,” he said. “Great Buffalo fans. Great football town. These are loyal, loyal fans, and I understand that. I think that the next staff will have a great opportunity for success and to make this another great football franchise.”
“This will probably be - and I say probably but I think it will be - the first place that’s ever fired me that I’ll pull for,” Gailey said.
Gailey is believed to have two years remaining on his contract. Most NFL coaches’ contracts are guaranteed.
Right up until the final weeks of the season, Nix had been hoping Gailey would be able to save his job. Gailey’s firing means the Bills will have their sixth head coach in a 14-year period in the 2013 season.
Nix expressed his distaste for the Bills’ revolving door at the head-coach’s office at midseason.
“The age-old thing – and they’ve done it around here for years – is to start over about every three years,” Nix said. “What that does is make damn sure you don’t make it. ... You change every three years and you never quite get there. That’s my take.”
However, neither Nix nor most Bills fans anticipated the dismal play of the team this season. The Bills finished in last place in the AFC East for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
The primary reason for Gailey’s demise was his defense. Despite replacing George Edwards with Dave Wannstedt at the coordinator’s spot and adding $100 million free agent Mario Williams, the Bills actually got worse on defense, by various measures.
They gave up 435 points, second worst in Bills history, sixth worst in the NFL this season and one more point than they allowed in 2011.
They ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, down four spots from the year before. They were worst in the NFL on third downs and worst in the NFL in the red zone (preventing touchdowns on opponent drives inside the 20-yard line).
Gailey’s offense was better than that of his predecessor, Dick Jauron. However, Gailey committed to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was not able to perform in the top half of the league at his position.
Gailey’s record in division was just 4-14. The Bills job was his second short stint as an NFL head coach. He was fired by the Dallas Cowboys in 1999 after just two seasons.
Gailey was an off-the-radar choice by Nix when he was hired in 2010. He had gone 44-32 in six seasons as Georgia Tech head coach and was fired from that position in 2007.