I was in the locker room Thursday night, so I didn't catch Chan Gailey's postgame news conference firsthand, but in looking at the tape when I got back to the station I thought his opening remarks for the most part summed things up.
A coach that had seen his team lose five of six games apparently has become conditioned to dealing with negative, and that's where he went to get things started.
"Before you all start with the negatives, there are some positives. The defense played outstanding. Did an unbelievable job. One score, I think they did not have many yards-they just did a super job."
He's right. The defense finally came as advertised. This was the blueprint of what the Bills invested so much in during the offseason. A dominant performance where the Bills held Miami to just 184 total yards. Run defense has been such a major part of the problem, but the Bills held Reggie Bush to 20-yards on 10-carries. Getting pressure on quarterbacks has been another massive issue. Magnifying that was the fact the Bills were facing a rookie in Ryan Tannehill. They got to him, sacking him three times and picking him off twice late with the game on the line. The Bills defense had gone three games without forcing a turnover, and they took it away three times including the fumble early that safety Jairus Byrd recovered to go along with his phenomenal interception late. Defensive end Mario Williams played very well. He was in on four tackles that included a sack, and a run stop on Bush early for a five yard loss. After the game, he was quick to give Byrd credit.
"That was crazy; that's baller. He laid out for that thing. To bring it in with his fingertips and go through the whole catch after hitting the ground and everything, that was a heck of a play."
But let's get back Gailey's remarks as the coach continued on from the quote above.
"Especially special teams... We gave up a touchdown and that is not good, but the punting, keeping them pinned down and making them go the wrong way. That was good too. So there were some positives."
Once again he's right. What he didn't mention Leodis McKelvin's 79-yard punt return for a touchdown early that helped set the tone for the night. McKelvin leads the NFL in punt return average.
Now to the negatives.
"I know the negatives. Third down. We were bad (in the) red zone. We did not get touchdowns. If we had gotten touchdowns it would not have been that close but we did not. We are kind of hot and cold. One week we are good in red zone, the next week we are not. We have to get more consistent there. It was a great effort by our football team. They played hard. I thought it was something we can build on."
I agree with that last part... they can build on this from a defensive standpoint in particular. However, Gailey continues to boggle the mind from an offensive standpoint. Tashard Choice out of the wildcat on 3rd and 1? The best players coming out of the game with a chance to punch it in just before the half? He was asked directly about Spiller coming out of the game there and talked about how he gets "winded" and how they like to bring Choice in when they want to throw the football... which once again begs the question why throw? It brings me back to Stevie Johnson's comment from earlier in the week where he more than suggested the impact players should allowed to make an impact at key moments in the game. Yes there's the issue of executing in the red zone, but I also continue to feel there's an obvious coaching an play calling issue at play here. The Bills offense managed four Rian Lindell field goals. With Fred Jackson out of the line-up, C.J. Spiller carried the ball 22 times for 91-yards against the fifth ranked run defense in the NFL and could have been used more effectively.
I agree with the fact they can build on this. The defense did its job against a rookie quarterback leading an offense with plenty of limitations. The offense couldn't manage a touchdown against a strong run defense, but one that has glaring deficiencies in the secondary. A Dolphins insider told me before the game that if the Bills couldn't throw on this team, there was "no hope."
I certainly wouldn't go that far in describing last night's win, but I think Gailey's right to keep it in perspective.