Bills coach Chan Gailey is not discussing job security, either his or that of starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for another week.
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He’s focused on preparing Buffalo for its season finale against the New York Jets this weekend rather than the uncertain offseason that lies ahead.
”I’m not into that right now,” Gailey said Monday. ”I’m into let’s beat the Jets and finish this thing the way it needs to be finished.”
At 5-10, Buffalo’s season is essentially finished except for a game against the Jets (6-9) on Sunday.
Coming off a 24-10 loss at Miami, the Bills have dropped seven of nine, are guaranteed their fourth consecutive year with 10 or more losses, and will miss the playoffs for a 13th straight season. Gailey’s record in Buffalo has dropped to 15-32 over a three-year stretch in which he’s yet to win more than six games.
Gailey deflected questions regarding his job security, and declined to say whether he’s received any assurances from the front office or Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson.
”I wouldn’t tell you if they’d given me an indication or not,” said Gailey, who has at least one year left on his contract.
And yet he’s sticking with Fitzpatrick as his starter for at least one more week because, as Gailey put it: ”He gives us the best chance to win.”
Gailey, however, hedged as to whether Fitzpatrick’s job is safe going into next season.
”We evaluate all that at the end of the season,” he said. ”I don’t see anything that would change my mind there right now. Something may change my mind as time goes on. But right now, I don’t see anything that changes my mind in that.”
That’s a bit of a switch from what Gailey had said late last month when discussing Fitzpatrick’s status.
”As we continue to get better, I think he is going to be the guy,” Gailey had said then.
The trouble is neither Fitzpatrick nor the Bills have shown many signs of progress.
After scoring 20 offensive touchdowns in their first seven games, the Bills have managed just 13 (five rushing and eight passing) in their past eight. Over that same stretch, Fitzpatrick has more turnovers (four lost fumbles and seven interceptions) than touchdowns passing (eight).
Injuries have also contributed to the drop in production.
Slot receiver David Nelson has been out since hurting his knee in the season opener. No. 2 receiver Donald Jones missed two of three games before being placed on injured reserve last week. And starting tight end Scott Chandler is out after tearing a ligament in his left knee against Miami.
Gailey said Chandler will require surgery, and the injury could have him miss the start of next season.
Questions about Fitzpatrick have been raised since general manager Buddy Nix said on several occasions this season that he’s interested in drafting a quarterback next year.
Fitzpatrick’s contract could also be an issue. In March, he’s due to make a $3 million bonus, which could be a steep price to pay for a team that could be in the market for a new starter.
Though Bills players were given the day off, Fitzpatrick acknowledged this has been a difficult season for him.
”I’d be lying if I said it didn’t wear on me a little bit,” Fitzpatrick said on his weekly show on Buffalo’s WGR-Radio. ”We haven’t met (the expectations). And I haven’t met them. And so it’s been disappointing. But that stuff doesn’t affect the way that I play on Sunday.”
Another issue has been the Bills defense, which hasn’t played to its high-priced potential.
They’re the NFL’s eighth team to have allowed 45 or more points four times in one season. They’ve allowed 150 or more yards rushing seven times after giving up 182 to Miami. And the 426 points allowed is already the third-most given up in team history, and 28 short of matching the record set in 1984.
Gailey accepted the blame for the team’s overall struggles this season, while insisting he sees signs of progress.
”The job is production and winning, and we haven’t gotten there,” Gailey said. ”We’re getting closer, but we’re not over the hump.”
NOTES: Gailey said FB Dorin Dickerson (right ankle), who was hurt on Sunday, is expected to play after tests came back negative. … S Da’Norris Searcy has been ruled out after he hurt his groin against Miami.