COMMENTARY | This was the last straw. Chan-demonium has finally broken loose in Buffalo. And not in a good way.
After an embarrassing 50-17 loss to the surging Seattle Seahawks on an international stage Sunday, it's time for the Buffalo Bills to part ways with head coach Chan Gailey. The loss dropped the Bills to 5-9, clinching yet another losing season and the franchise's 13th consecutive campaign without a playoff berth.
This year was supposed to be different. The feeling in August was this was a legitimate playoff team. The Bills had a soft schedule and more talent on board than they've had in years. After all, the Bills splurged in the offseason on All-Pro defensive end Mario Williams, bestowing a $100 million contract on the top player in the free-agent market in a move that was supposed to bolster a defense that has been continually awful against the run the past few seasons.
Yet, as impossible as it sounds, this year's Bills defense has been worse. The loss to the Seahawks marks the fourth time this season Buffalo has surrendered 45 points or more. And in two more losses, the Bills 'D' gave up the winning score in the waning seconds.
The offense has not been much better. Aside from C.J. Spiller having a historic season -- his yards per carry average of 6.5 is one of the best season-long marks in NFL history -- the Bills have struggled to move the ball and put up points. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been an average quarterback, at best. The receiving corps lacks depth beyond Stevie Johnson, and the offensive line has been inconsistent. Even their bright spot has a dark lining. Spiller's 161 carries through 14 games is so well below the workhorse threshold, he's practically a part-time player.
And special teams? The club dropped perennial All-Pro Brian Moorman midseason and has chained reliable Rian Lindell to the bench unless the field-goal attempt is under 50 yards. Figure that out.
This is Gailey's third year at the helm, a time when progress and potential should be turning into wins and momentum. Yet, all Buffalo has to show for a disastrous 2012 is wins over also-rans Kansas City, Cleveland, Arizona, Miami and Jacksonville. Time and again Gailey has looked overmatched, outsmarted or downright clueless. His personnel management, play-calling and clock management decisions have been abysmal. And the players have clearly not responded to him in any way that could lead to success.
There's still two weeks left to play. It's too late to salvage this season, but it's not too early to start looking ahead to 2013. The best thing the Bills can do is fire Gailey and start their search for a new head coach now.
Patrick Broadwater is a freelance writer living in Buffalo. His work has appeared at The Hockey News, The Good Men Project and several newspapers and magazines.