Tonawanda News

Bills

January 2, 2012

Bills fire defensive coordinator George Edwards

ORCHARD PARK — Dave Wannstedt is taking over as the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator. Coach Chan Gailey maintains his trust in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

And surprise, surprise, Gailey hasn't entirely shut the door on bringing back receiver Stevie Johnson — so long as he keeps in check his colorful and oft-questionable touchdown celebrations.

Wasting little time, Gailey spent Monday charting an offseason course mixed with both change and continuity in a bid to turn around the Bills (6-10) after their seventh straight losing season. It was a year in which Buffalo got off to a surprising start before closing with a familiar thud by losing eight of its last nine, including a 49-21 loss at New England on Sunday.

The first and most significant move had George Edwards being fired as defensive coordinator and replaced by Wannstedt. It's a promotion for Wannstedt after he spent this past year serving as assistant head coach/inside linebackers.

"We're in a production business. That's the bottom line. And we need to get better production," Gailey said. "It just got the point where we needed the change and so we made the change."

The decision didn't come as a surprise after the defense struggled in its second season under Edwards.

Though a rash of injuries played a role, the Bills were over-run giving up a franchise-worst 5,938 yards. Buffalo also allowed 434 points, the second most in team history.

Wannstedt is a two-time NFL head coach — in Chicago 1993-98 and Miami 2000-04 — and has an extensive defensive background. He joined the Bills a year ago after spending the previous six seasons as head coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

There's plenty on the Bills' to-do list after they missed the playoffs for a 12th straight season, the NFL's longest active drought.

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