INDIANAPOLIS — Chan Gailey is back in the AFC East, but it's not quite the same one he left nine years ago as Dolphins offensive coordinator.
"It's a lot tougher than when I left, that's for sure," said the Bills' new head coach at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday. "Obviously Miami did a great job two years ago and brought their situation back. (The) Jets did a great job last year. New England's good every year. It's a tough division."
One thing in Year One that could make it even tougher for Gailey, who also will call offensive plays, is his lack of a proven quarterback. Both Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled last season, and although Gailey wouldn't address whether Buffalo would be in the market for a veteran passer this offseason, he did indicate that he'll be looking to upgrade the position.
"Every team in the league that doesn't have an All-Pro quarterback or someone who got votes for All-Pro is looking to improve the position," he said. "I think that if you look at every position on the field, you are always trying to upgrade your football team. We'll evaluate these guys, we'll evaluate what's available, and if we can improve our situation, we'll improve it."
QB isn't the only spot the 6-10 Bills will need to bolster before the 2010 campaign. Following the offensive line's problems last season and the recent retirement of starting ORT Brad Butler, Gailey stated that he and GM Buddy Nix will look to address the offensive tackle spot in free agency, the draft or both.
As the Bills convert to a 3-4 defense under coordinator George Edwards, it also will mean a bevy of changes on that side of the ball. One player who is about to find himself in a new position is 2009 first-round pick Aaron Maybin, who had issues at defensive end and barely contributed as a rookie. Gailey is excited about Maybin's move to a pass-rushing outside linebacker.
"He probably fits that better than he does a 4-3 defensive end," Gailey said. "Aaron's got a lot of physical talent. If we can get him moved and get him to where he's standing up and doing some things off the edge, that might fit him a lot better than being a hands-on-the-ground 4-3 defensive end."
Gailey has a long road ahead to turn around a downtrodden Bills franchise — he hasn't even spoken yet to RB Marshawn Lynch or WR Terrell Owens, two character concerns who might not fit into his plan — but one thing he has been able to do is assemble a quality coaching staff, which is at least a step in the right direction.
"When I took the job, I stated that we wanted great teachers and communicators, and I think that's what we've been able to accomplish."
For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.