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Gailey in search of consistency on offense
Coach says stats don't mean much

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Buffalo Bills have been in the NFL's bottom seven on offense for seven consecutive years and haven't ranked higher than 25th in that span.

Chan Gailey was hired as head coach because of his background running good offenses. But despite the bleak numbers, he doesn't feel any added pressure to rescue what has been an anemic attack.

"The statistics don't make a rip to me," Gailey said Tuesday during an AFC coaches breakfast at the league winter meetings. "Did we win, did we lose? There's a lot of ways to win. The statistics are used by people out there to evaluate you. The statistics are only important if you lose. Now you've got to decide why you lost. If you win, the statistics don't matter."

Still, Gailey knows an offensive turnaround is necessary for the Bills to be more competitive. As a result, the upcoming draft will have a heavy tilt toward that side of the football.

"Offensively, there's a lot of question marks," he said. "There are some good players, but there isn't the consistency that we need to have."

It's no secret that offensive tackle is going to be a priority -- probably the No. 1 priority -- on draft day. Other positions on the Bills' wish list are wide receiver, running back and possibly quarterback.

Not surprisingly, Gailey has been peppered with questions from reporters at the Orlando meetings about the quarterback position. His response hasn't changed since January: All options are still open, whether it's adding someone through free agency, a trade or the draft, or retaining the passers he has.

However, Gailey did say the quarterback issue needs to be resolved before the draft.

"The problem comes if you don't solve an issue before the draft, then you have to try to solve it in the draft," he said. "And then if you don't solve it before the draft or in the draft now your back is to the wall and everybody knows it. That's a bind you get into. Now they can hold you up."

If the Bills stand pat at quarterback, Gailey said he'll have to coach them up.

"I do think that they have a chance to get the job done, but they just haven't," he said of Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm. "That's my job to get them to. They pay us to coach, too, to get a guy better, to put him in position to be successful. To me we're teachers. That's what we do."

At running back, the Bills have one of the league's better tandems in Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. But the team needs a third back, and Gailey was very specific about the type he wants.

"The guys who are coming out now," he said, "there's a bunch of those 5[foot]-9, 180- to 185-pound, quick-as-a-cat water bugs that are running backs/slash receivers that might give you a little bit of a punch on the field and maybe make a big play."

One player that fits that mold is Mississippi's Dexter McCluster, a 5-7, 175-pound scat back with explosive speed, good hands and open-field elusiveness. He'd be a change of pace from the more physical Jackson and Lynch.

"We've got to upgrade there in some way, shape or form and there are some good running backs in the draft this year, different from what we've got," Gailey said. "So a change of pace is maybe something we could do there with a different type of player."

As for the defense, Gailey believes there are pieces in place to make a successful switch to the 3-4, though he would like to add more defensive line depth in the draft.

Gailey is especially impressed with the Bills' secondary, saying it may be the best he has been around. That's a strong statement coming from someone who coached in Dallas when Deion Sanders and Darren Woodson were there and in Pittsburgh, which featured Rod Woodson and Carnell Lake.

Of course, the Bills don't have anyone who compares to Sanders or Woodson. But in terms of overall depth, Gailey said Buffalo tops previous teams he has been with.

"I'm talking about your top eight players, this is as strong a group as I've ever been around," he said. "Even the backups in Buffalo . . . Our backup safeties are Bryan [Scott] and [George] Wilson. That's two pretty good safeties."

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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