ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) â€” Coach Chan Gailey has a simple message for his Buffalo Bills: Break time is over.
To drive home his point, Gailey had the dozen or so big-screen TVs removed from the walls of the weight room. He considered them a distraction in what should be a place of work â€” not a cozy suburban health club spa.
"We want to make sure that we understand that when we walk into this facility it's all work," Gailey said. "That's a workplace. It's not a place to watch TV. So that was my message: It's business."
It was also not lost on the coach that a mental and cultural overhaul was in order in Buffalo. This was, after all, a team that's done little to earn life's luxuries.The Bills have spent much of the past decade muddling through mediocrity, going 10 straight years of missing the playoffs and with only one winning season during that stretch.
"We've got something to accomplish," he said. "We've not been where we've needed to be in the last few years. And we've got to get back there. And I only know one way to accomplish that, and that's through hard work."
After a little over a month off since the end of minicamps, the work for the Bills begins in earnest Thursday when the team opens training camp at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester. It'll mark the start of an intensive monthlong stretch during which Gailey will have numerous major decisions to make to give his team shape and identity in leading up to the regular-season opener against Miami on Sept. 12.
There's a starting quarterback to be named after Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who split the starting duties last year, and third-stringer Brian Brohm equally shared practice time with the first-team during minicamps. Gailey won't provide a timetable for when he'll name his starter, but will open camp by establishing what he calls "a pecking order" between the three.
The offensive line has yet to take shape, with starting left guard Eric Wood (broken leg) and starting left tackle Demetrius Bell (knee surgery) both coming off injuries that prevented them from taking part in most of the team's spring sessions. The competition for the No. 2 receiver spot behind starter Lee Evans is open after the Bills elected to not re-sign Terrell Owens and Josh Reed.
The defense is being overhauled following Gailey's decision to switch to a 3-4 scheme, which has prompted numerous position changes and player additions. And the offense is still a work in progress in adapting to Gailey's philosophy and the new play-calling terminology that comes with it, all drastically different from last year.
"I see glimpses of where we want to be and what we're trying to get done," Gailey said in June. "We're not there yet."
And like the removal of the television sets, Gailey's training camp itinerary is vastly different from what the Bills were accustomed to under former coach Dick Jauron, who was fired midway through his fourth season last year.
Whereas Jauron held few two-a-days and favored morning walkthroughs followed by an afternoon practice, Gailey has eight days featuring two practices scheduled over the 19 days the Bills will spend in Rochester. Another departure from the past is Gailey will have players practicing in full pads more often.
"I know what they can do in shorts, but the game is played in pads," Gailey said. "So we've got to find out in pads who can do what."
For Gailey, this is his second shot at being an NFL coach after he was abruptly fired in Dallas following the 1999 season â€” despite leading the Cowboys to the playoffs in each of his two years. After spending two years as the Dolphins offensive coordinator, Gailey spent six seasons as head coach at Georgia Tech.
He then spent a year as the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator before being fired prior just before the start of last season.
The Bills hired Gailey in January after he met much of the criteria set out by first-time general manager Buddy Nix, who wanted someone with experience as a head coach and also had an offensive background.
As Nix put it, "I don't want to go through a guy having to learn the NFL. There is a learning curve. And everybody goes through it that hasn't done it. The head coach, there is no school for it."
Gailey is the Bills fifth head coach since Hall of Famer Marv Levy retired following the 1997 season, and he has hit the ground running. And he has his players' attention.
"It's all business and no jacking around," defensive lineman Chris Kelsay said. "They want to win. They want to win now."
That was part of the message when Gailey removed the big-screens in March.
"No TVs," added running back Fred Jackson. "He kind of felt like it was a spa in there. He wants us to go in there and work out. And I think that's what they're trying to nail home. Guys are buying into that."