Coming into the 2010 season opener, Buffalo Bills fans had to be optimistic about the offense.
The young offensive line now had a year of game experience under their belt. Arguably the best trio of running backs in the NFL would be splitting carries. Quarterback Trent Edwards’ preseason looked like his first few games of the 2008 season. Wide Receiver Roscoe Parrish was a phoenix rising from the ashes to compliment Lee Evans. The team looked like it had turned the corner under the care of “offensive-minded” head coach Chan Gailey.
Until this past Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
Now, call me crazy, but 15-10 sounds like a bocce ball score, not a football score. The Bills offense looked like it did during the Dick Jauron era. The game and score reminded Bills fans of the Buffalo of old. Sunday’s game was a defensive struggle, with the Bills’ defense playing their guts out, bending but not breaking, during Miami’s 37 minutes of possession.
If anything, I figured the Bills would go out with guns blazing and drop 28 or more points on the Fish, even if it meant they would lose 31-28. It was clear that this would not be the case as the first possession of the Gailey tenure was a three and out, all of them being pass plays.
But instead, the Bills ran plays out of the shotgun close to 80% of their 54 offensive plays and only gained 166 total yards against a mediocre defense in the Dolphins.
That many shotgun plays? And over a dozen plays in the Pistol formation? I know Buffalo isn’t exactly a big city, but Gailey must have mistaken it for a college town with a Division 3 football team. I was waiting for the Buffalo Bills fight song to be played after every one of their nine first downs.
I understand that the game was the first in Chan Gailey’s first year in Buffalo. Many Bills fans are handling the loss by giving the ex-Kansas City offensive coordinator a pardon, justifying it by blaming the personnel and a decade of losing.
But a good ball coach comes in and makes a statement in his first game, even if it is in a loss.
Tony Sparano, the Dolphins head coach who made it to the playoffs in his first year in South Beach, was much more animated on his sideline than Gailey was on his. Gailey was passive throughout the entire game, took it all in stride and tried to be the calm, collected leader.
You know who else was calm and collected? Dick Jauron. He lost his fair share of games in which the Bills offense scored 10 points, resulting in a 24-33 record in Buffalo.
With the way his offense played, with the packages he set up and his demeanor on the sideline, Chan Gailey is on track to become a Trivial Pursuit answer in two or three years, just like Dick Jauron.