By Ch2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore
Although Bills head coach Chan Gailey and gm Buddy Nix didn't say anything in terms of news value we haven't already heard, their remarks Wednesday morning to a group of about 450 Bills season ticket holders and premium-seat buyers was entertaining to say the least.
Nix had the best one-liners, as he was introduced by former Bills special teams ace Steve Tasker at the Adam's Mark Hotel downtown as everybody, including a few of us lucky invited media free loaders, listened.
The new gm made it clear he and the rest of the Bills coaches and front office personnel can't, and won't, worry about hurting people's feelings or ego's to upgrade the overall talent on the football team. "I get mine hurt everyday. I go home and complain, and my wife don't care."
Nix also said he is frequently asked about how long it will take to turn the Bills into a playoff contender again, and he said he didn't have a quick answer to that question. "....don't tell me about the labor pains, tell me about the baby. That's what we've got to do...."
We saw a side of Gailey we hadn't really seen, as he became almost fiery in telling the crowd of Bills loyalists how important they were to the success of the organization, and how great Bills fans are. "I've been in that stadium when it was deafening, and I was on the other side, and it's no fun. One of my goals is to make it one of the toughest places to play in the NFL."
Gailey, as he has since arriving on the scene, would not go into specifics about the Bills quarterback situation, other than to say they are still looking to bring in another qb or two either through the draft or free agency or trade (Donovan McNabb??), but essentially, the position is wide open.
Both Nix and Gailey were also reluctant to get into specifics about what they're looking for in the April 22nd NFL draft. Gailey said "If I took a poll, 90 per cent of you would get it right....it's not like it's a secret." But Gailey also told the crowd that the situation is better than he first thought it was, when all he heard was about "how the sky was falling. It's not. We've got some good players. We've got the nucleus to be a good football team."
Gailey said the switch to the 3-4 defense won't be a hard as many people think, because he believes the Bills have the players to make the switch effectively, adding its really a hybrid 3-4 that won't always look the same anyway.
One question from the crowd is often repeated in recent years, especially with 20 players going on injured reserve this past season. Can the Bills do something about the injuries? Gailey said the two people he brought in to work with strength and conditioning have had great success in that area, but he added sometimes "you need a little luck". He did say guard Eric Wood is expected to make a full recovery from his broken leg last season, and considered Wood a good example of several good young players on the Bills roster right now.
Although nobody asked, Nix went out of his way to praise owner Ralph Wilson, who "wants to win more than anybody in this room". He said it won't be Wilson's fault if the Bills don't win, because that will fall on he and Gailey and the rest. Hey, no shock that Nix would praise Wilson, who gave a 71 year old man another shot at a high profile NFL job, but its also no surprise Wilson turned to Nix to help get his scouting staff and personnel staff back up to speed.
After listening to Nix and Gailey, once you get past the thick southern drawls that are not heard everyday in these parts, you get the feeling these are two non-nonsense guys who will "be on the same page", and based on the results of the past several seasons, that is a huge step towards writing a story that has a much happier ending.