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Americus native Gailey among seven NFL coaches sacked in firing frenzy

Americus native Chan Gailey met with the Bills during the team’s annual exit meetings and informed at least one of his players that he expected to be fired on Monday.

Americus native Chan Gailey met with the Bills during the team’s annual exit meetings and informed at least one of his players that he expected to be fired on Monday.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Chan Gailey has been fired by the Buffalo Bills after three losing seasons.

The announcement was made Monday, a day after the Bills closed out another disappointing season with a 28-9 win over the New York Jets.

Buffalo finished 6-10, and Gailey leaves with a 16-32 record. There was no immediate word on the status of general manager Buddy Nix.

In a hopeful season after signing star defensive end Mario Williams to a $100 million contract, the Bills reverted to their ways of the past, failing to make the playoffs for a 13th straight year, the NFL’s longest active drought.

Gailey met with his players during the team’s annual exit meetings and informed at least one of his players that he expected to be fired.

Gailey addressed reporters for a little over a minute, and declined to take questions.

He thanked both Nix and team owner Ralph Wilson for the opportunity, and said he understood the reasons behind the decision. Gailey also announced that his entire staff had been fired.

“I understand this is a business. We didn’t get the job done,” Gailey said, reading from a Bills pad on which he had jotted down a few notes. “I’ve been called two other times to get things turned around, was able to do it. We weren’t able to get this one done soon enough and I understand that completely.”

Gailey’s eyes then welled with tears when he credited Bills fans for their loyalty, and Buffalo for being a passionate football city.

“I think that the next staff will have a great opportunity for success, and make this another great football franchise,” Gailey said. “This will probably be, and I say probably, but I think it will be the first place that’s ever fired me that I’ll pull for.”

Gailey had at least one more season left on his contract.

It’s the latest twirl of the coaching carousel in Buffalo.

The Bills are on their fifth coaching search since Wade Phillips was fired following the 2001 season. Phillips, who took over in 1998 after Hall of Famer Marv Levy retired, was the last coach to get the Bills to the playoffs. That was in the 1999 season, when Buffalo lost the AFC wild-card playoff to Tennessee on a last-second kickoff return, the “Music City Miracle.”

Gailey took over in January 2010 after a tumultuous season in which Dick Jauron was fired in November, leaving defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to finish out the season on an interim basis.

It’s unclear whether Nix will be overseeing the next coaching search. Nix was at the Bills’ facility on Monday.

This was Gailey’s second NFL head coaching job. He went a combined 18-16 in two seasons at Dallas before being fired following the 1999 season despite leading the Cowboys to the playoffs each year. He spent six years as head coach at Georgia Tech, where he had a 44-32 record before being fired after the 2007 season.

“It’s always disappointing,” said defensive tackle Kyle Williams, one of the only players left in the locker room when the team announced Gailey’s firing.

What frustrates Williams more is how the Bills keep making changes without getting any results.

“I get tired of losing,” Williams said. “More than anything, I get tired of putting in tons and tons of work. And it’s hard sitting here talking to you guys at the end of December feeling like another one kind of slipped through your fingers.”

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s status is uncertain in part because he’s due a $3 million bonus in March. He went 16-29 since taking the starting job three games into the 2010 season. He hasn’t lived up to the six-year, $59 million contract extension he signed in October 2011.

Fitzpatrick declined to speculate on his future. After speaking to reporters, Fitzpatrick hugged receiver Stevie Johnson and the two left with Johnson’s arm over the quarterback’s shoulder.

Noted for being an offensive expert, Gailey failed to revive what’s been a perennially poor popgun attack. The offense did show signs of a spark last year, when it finished 14th in the NFL in yards gained. That was Buffalo’s best finish since winding up 11th in 2003. The unit, however, regressed this year, and particularly unraveled down the stretch. It finished 19th in the NFL in yards gained, and 21st in points scored.

Ultimately, it was the Bills’ poor defensive play that doomed Gailey, though. The troubles were particularly glaring this season, because the defense was supposed to be much improved after signing Williams to a six-year contract in free agency.

The Bills allowed 400-plus points in each of the past three seasons, including 435 this year — the second-worst total in team history. Buffalo became the NFL’s eighth team and first since the 1986 Jets to allow 45 points four times in one season.

The Bills also endured a dreadful two-game stretch in losing 52-28 to New England on Sept. 30 and then 45-3 at San Francisco the following week. They allowed franchise-worst 1,201 yards offense in consecutive games, the most an NFL team’s given up in back-to-back games since the New York Yanks gave up 1,227 in two games in 1950.

“It’s sickening,” running back Fred Jackson said, referring to how the Bills failed to play up to expectations. “As players, we had the highest hopes out of everybody. And for us to fall short of that, we don’t like it at all. It’s depressing.”

Eagles' Reid, Bears' Smith among coaches fired

SAN DIEGO — By lunchtime Monday, six NFL coaches were looking for work.

With the regular season ending the day before, the firings came at a furious clip and within a two-hour span the following were sacked: Andy Reid in Philadelphia, Lovie Smith in Chicago, Norv Turner in San Diego, Pat Shurmur in Cleveland, Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Chan Gailey in Buffalo.

Though he also had a losing record, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan held onto his job while general manager Mike Tannenbaum was let go. Jacksonville fired its GM, Gene Smith, and coach Mike Mularkey could go soon, too.

The Chargers and Browns made it a clean sweep. San Diego dismissed GM A.J. Smith along with Turner. Cleveland fired GM Tom Heckert along with Shurmur.

Reid was the longest tenured of the coaches, removed after 14 seasons and a Super Bowl appearance in 2005 — a loss to New England.

Smith spent nine seasons with the Bears, leading them to the Super Bowl in 2006 — a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Turner went 56-40 with the Chargers, the third team to fire him as head coach. San Diego won the AFC West from 2006-09 — he was 3-3 in the playoffs — but didn’t make the postseason the last three years.

Gailey was dumped after three seasons with the Bills; Shurmur after two; and Crennel had one full season with the Chiefs.

Reid took over a 3-13 team in 1999, drafted Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick and quickly turned the franchise into a title contender.

He led them to a run of four straight NFC championship games, a streak that ended with a trip to the NFL title game. But the team hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008 and after last season’s 8-8 finish, owner Jeffrey Lurie said he was looking for improvement this year. Instead, it was even worse. The Eagles finished 4-12.

“Andy Reid won the most games of any head coach in Eagles history and he is someone I respect greatly and will remain friends with for many years to come,” Lurie said. “But, it is time for the Eagles to move in a new direction. Andy leaves us with a winning tradition that we can build upon.”

Shurmur went 9-23 in his two seasons with the Browns, who will embark on yet another offseason of change — the only constant in more than a decade of futility. Cleveland has lost at least 11 games in each of the past five seasons and made the playoffs just once since returning to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999.

“Ultimately our objective is to put together an organization that will be the best at everything we do,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said. “ On the field, our only goal is trying to win championships.”

Crennel took over with three games left in the 2011 season after GM Scott Pioli fired Todd Haley. Kansas City will have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft as a result of having one of the worst seasons in its 53-year history. The only other time the Chiefs finished 2-14 was 2008, the year before Pioli was hired.

“I am embarrassed by the poor product we gave our fans this season, and I believe we have no choice but to move the franchise in a different direction,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement.

Gailey, the former Dallas Cowboys coach, compiled a 16-32 record in his three seasons in Buffalo, never doing better than 6-10.

“This will probably be, and I say probably, but I think it will be the first place that’s ever fired me that I’ll pull for,” Gailey said.

Smith and the Bears went 10-6 this season and just missed a playoff spot. But Chicago started 7-1 this year and has struggled to put together a productive offense throughout Smith’s tenure. His record was 81-63 with the Bears.