Gailey instilling confidence to resurgent Bills
One of coach Chan Gailey's first acts upon taking over the Buffalo Bills some 20 months ago was having the TV sets removed from the weight room in a bid to instill a business-first focus.
His next order of business was far less cosmetic, and much more daunting. It involved Gailey attempting to transform what he saw as the telltale signs of a losing culture that lingered on a team that's spent an entire decade missing the playoffs.
''Every time you take over a team in a new situation, you're trying to change the mindset from hoping to win to expecting to win,'' Gailey reiterated several times last year.
Nineteen games into Gailey's tenure, the Bills' transformation into becoming a more confident team is showing signs of blossoming, as linebacker Chris Kelsay put it on Wednesday.
Defensive lineman Kyle Williams had more blunt answer, an indication of how much the Bills are starting to believe in themselves.
''There's only so much you can talk about expecting to win,'' Williams said. ''Confidence comes with winning and not talking about it.''
The Bills have earned the right to start talking proud once again in getting off to a 3-0 start in preparing to play at Cincinnati (1-2) on Sunday.
A year after a 4-12 finish, Buffalo is one of three the NFL's remaining unbeaten teams. And the Bills are coming off stunning back-to-back comebacks in which they've rallied from double-digit deficits, including last weekend's stunning 34-31 win over New England.
It's a stirring turnaround for a team that a year ago that didn't win its first game until Week 10.
''Changes needed to be made,'' center Eric Wood said. ''No TVs in the weight room, that's nothing to give up for a new atmosphere, for a new mentality in here.''
Gailey takes little credit.
''I don't have any magic potion. I don't have any fancy words,'' Gailey said. ''The guys are doing it.''
Gailey's influence can't be underestimated. He's an offensive-minded coach making the most out of his second chance at an NFL head coaching job after he had been fired following the 1999 season in Dallas despite leading the Cowboys to the playoffs in each of his two years.
After two stints as an offensive coordinator in Miami and Kansas City, and a six-year tenure as Georgia Tech's coach, Gailey was regarded as an unlikely choice to take over the Bills in January 2010. And the doubts grew further after Buffalo got off to an 0-8 start.
What the outside critics might have missed was a growing bond of determination building on a team that became regarded as a ''loveable loser'' for producing moral victories. Five of Buffalo's losses last year were decided by 5 points or less, with three coming in overtime.
This year, the wins are coming as a result of an opportunistic defense that's forced nine turnovers, including four interceptions against Tom Brady last weekend. And then there's an offense that's producing at a prolific pace, having scored a league-leading 113 points.
As frustrating as last season was, several returning Bills players regard the close losses as helping inspire this year's fast start. The Bills are now 7-4 in their past 11 games.
''I think that could've been a blessing in disguise to go through that, because it built so much more character on this team,'' linebacker Andra Davis said. ''Guys didn't quit.''
General manager Buddy Nix is encouraged while remaining cautious because it's only three weeks into the season.
''We've got to keep in mind that at this point we haven't done anything that we set out to do other than make some progress,'' Nix said. ''It was just a matter of getting through some of the rough times. But I'm here to tell you that they're not over.''
Nix is concerned about the Bills' lack of experienced depth at several positions.
What the Bills don't lack is confidence.
''It's like the chicken and the egg, which one comes first? Do you win and then get confidence? Or do you get confidence and then you start to win,'' Nix said. ''Well somewhere along the line last year, Chan and his staff got across the point that we could compete. And I think that's carried over.''
Notes: The Bills signed DB Brandon Bing to their practice squad. An undrafted rookie free agent out of Rutgers, Bing was released by Denver prior to the start of the season. ... WR Stevie Johnson did not practice Wednesday to rest a nagging groin injury. ... DT Torell Troup (back), who's missed the first three games, practiced fully and has a chance to play Sunday.