It seems a little strange to be talking about momentum given that all activity came screeching to a halt for over four months during the lockout. But if any up-and-coming team hopes that some of the momentum lingers through that lockout and into this season, it’s the Buffalo Bills.
Perennial doormats, the Bills showed plenty of promise down the stretch in 2010. They went 4-4 in the second half of the season and probably could have, or should have, been a few games better than that. Now quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and second-year coach Chan Gailey will have to keep the Bills trending in the right direction.
Chan Gailey joined 590 The Fan in Toronto with Greg Brady to discuss missing out on critical months of the offseason, Shawne Merriman, how he looks at free agents, carrying momentum over from late in 2010, the evolution of Ryan Fitzpatrick and differences in the preseason this year.
How frustrating was it to miss out on some critical months?:
“That’s the only redeeming thought in the whole process was that everybody was in the same boat. I guess if you’re a competitor, all you can ask for is an even chance and if you get an even chance, then you think you will out-work or out-fight or out-scrap the other guys. … It was a little frustrating, but you didn’t feel like you were falling behind.”
What are you expecting to get out of Shawne Merriman?:
“We’re betting on the come on that one that it works out. If he is healthy and can stay healthy, he’s still got a lot of good football in him. And I don’t mean good football, I mean great football. We’re excited about what Shawne can bring to us and give to our football team from a playmaking standpoint and from a leadership standpoint as well.”
When you look at free agents, do you look for those who have been to the playoffs and won?:
“Not always. It depends on the guy. If the guy’s a good guy and he’s willing to share and be a good example of work ethic, then it’s good. If he’s not willing to share, then it won’t be. It all depends on the individual. I’ve said all along I believe in the character of our football team and I don’t believe we have many of those guys.”
Do you feel good going into this year knowing the way the 2010 season ended?:
“We might have [finished out 6-2 in our last eight games] and that would’ve been better than 4-4. The bottom line is they rank you by wins and losses, not by shoulda, coulda, woulda. I think our players have a positive feeling about where we are and where we can be and that’s more important than the feeling I have.”
Could you guys have just stepped right on the field and played games without having a preseason schedule?:
“That would’ve been hard. That would’ve been very, very hard. Those teams that had guys from last year and a solid team and most of their guys back … you might could’ve been a decent football team, but it would’ve been hard to miss all the preseason this year if it continued.”
What do you see in Ryan Fitzpatrick and what are his expectations for himself?:
“I don’t think either one of us want to put a limit on the expectations we have for him. I don’t think anyone wants to do that. I think he can play extremely well, as we witnessed last year. He can play extremely well at times. What we have to do is eliminate the bad plays with him. And that’s my job, that’s what I’ve got to do. … If everybody plays well and he continues to grow, he can be a very good quarterback.”
Thoughts on the preseason given the time constraints:
“They’ll go hard and that’s the problem. You’re going to have to monitor what we do with these guys because they’re competitors, they’ll go hard. You’ve got to be smart about how you handle them during these two weeks. … It used to be you tried to gear everything to have them ready to go in the third preseason game to see what you had. This year you’re gearing everything toward Sept. 11 for the first game there.”