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Howard Simon's Blog

An Open Letter to Ralph Wilson

Dear Mr. Wilson,
Let the changes begin.  The Bills meaningless 28-9 triumph over a New York Jets team that is more pathetic than they are should not impact what you need to do. 
Don’t get sidetracked by a 19 point victory which was the largest margin of victory for your team this season. 
Don’t be fooled by the defense holding an opponent without a touchdown for the first time all season.
Don’t revel in the fact that Chan Gailey finally figured out how to beat a Rex Ryan coached Jets team(1st time in 6 tries) and won multiple division games in the same season for the first time in 3 years.
And by all means DO NOT think Gailey had an awakening and is a changed man after C.J. Spiller recorded a season high and career best 24 carries.
Please disregard the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the only Bills quarterback other than Jim Kelly to throw for at least 3,000 yards in 3 straight seasons and don’t be influenced by the fact that Fitzpatrick threw 7 fewer interceptions than last season.
There is a 3 year body of work to consider here, Mr. Wilson.  Gailey’s record is 16-32 overall, one of the worst in the history of your franchise.  In a division with 2 other mediocre teams, the Jets and Miami Dolphins, Gailey managed just 4 AFC East victories in 18 division games.
Fitzpatrick’s record as the Bills starting quarterback improved to 19-31 with this win.  Since he became the starter, Fitzpatrick has a 59% completion rate with 80 touchdowns and 64 interceptions.  He and Gailey have combined to beat just 1 team that ended up with a winning record.  That, of course, was the triumph over New England last season.
The Gailey era will go down as the worst in the 50 year history of your franchise in terms of defense.  All 3 of Gailey’s teams ended up in the top 5 in terms of most points allowed in a single season.  This year’s total of 435 is behind only the 1984 club which yielded 454 points while going 2-14.
The 2012 defense gave up 5806 total yards which is the 4th worst single season total.  The 2011 team holds that dubious record and the 2010 club is 5th worst.
I know it will cost you some money to pay Gailey(who reportedly has 2 years left on his contract) for not working but it is the cost of doing business in this case.  You’ll actually save some money by cutting ties with Fitzpatrick who is due to receive a $3 million check from you at the beginning of the next league year in March.
As long as you will be handing out severance checks, you might want to give one to Buddy Nix although I won’t be angry if he stays on as General Manager.  I think Nix has improved the talent level on your roster and there have been fewer draft busts  but he did fail with one of the more important tasks for any G-M and that is to find the right head coach.  He also gets a failing grade for not drafting a legitimate quarterback of the future who could have been ready to take over next season with some NFL experience already on his resume.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, Mr. Wilson.  You should be able to find a quality coach because the roster is not in need of a total makeover as was the case when you put the Nix/Gailey regime in place in 2010.
There’s a dynamic running back in place.  In fact, when you interview coaches, make sure you show them a highlight reel of Spiller from this season.  The new coach will inherit one of the most electric offensive players in the NFL.  Despite being under utilized by Gailey, Spiller still ended up with 1,703 total yards from scrimmage which is the 9th best single season total in franchise history and 1 yard better than Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas’ 1702 yards for a Super Bowl runner up in 1993.
There is a number one receiver on the roster too.  Stevie Johnson extended his franchise record with a 3rd straight 1,000 yard season.  Imagine what he could do with a real quarterback.
If you believe in the adage that winning starts up front, any prospective head coach will be glad to know he will have a strong offensive line which saw its opening day lineup start just 4 games but the Bills still managed to finish in the top 10 in rushing and top 15 in sacks per pass play.
The defense will require more work but I think there is a good base of talent and depth up front, a strong cover corner in Stephon Gilmore and a play making safety in Jairus Byrd.
You certainly have a passionate fan base that will support the team in good and prolonged bad times.  The facilities from the field house to training camp to what will soon be a renovated (your name here) stadium are good enough.  The division you are in, even though it includes New England, is not an intimidating task because the Jets are awful and I’m not sold the Dolphins are headed for great days just because they have Ryan Tannehill.
The greatest challenge a new head coach faces will be finding a quarterback since you don’t have one on the roster at this point.  Maybe you can use that as a carrot to dangle.  Tell the new guy he gets to pick the quarterback he wants, to turn this program around.
 I have one final piece of advice for you sir.  Don’t spare any expense when it comes to the management side of things.  I know you have spent gobs of money on the roster but you need to spend what it takes to get the right coaching staff in place.  That’s correct, I wrote staff.  It isn’t just about waving a big check at a big name head coach.  You have to spend the money to find the best assistants out there too. 
Put any New Year’s plans on hold and get to work on this right away.  Bills fans are down in the dumps after this miserable season and they need something to pick their spirits up as they prepare to watch the playoffs with no rooting interest yet again.
Howard Simon

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People : C.J. SpillerChan GaileyHoward SimonJim KellyRalph WilsonRyan FitzpatrickRyan TannehillStevie JohnsonThurman Thomas

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