Impatient with his offense's anemic production two games into the season, Gailey picked up where his predecessors left off by announcing Monday that Ryan Fitzpatrick will take over as the starter in place of Trent Edwards.
"We're looking for a spark," Gailey said. "We're looking for something that gives us a new look, a new thought process, some new play on the field. We're looking for the right combination, and we haven't found that yet."
Fitzpatrick will start Sunday at New England, where the Bills have lost nine consecutive games to the Patriots since 2001. Overall, Buffalo has lost 13 in a row and is 1-18 in its past 19 against the AFC East rival.
The switch comes one day after a 34-7 loss at Green Bay in which Edwards went 11-of-18 passing for 102 yards with two interceptions and was sacked four times. As an offense, the Bills managed just 186 yards against the Packers -- 20 more than they had in a 15-10 season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins.
In two games, Edwards went a combined 29-of-42 passing for 241 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. He was sacked seven times.
Gailey defended Edwards, saying the lack of production isn't all the quarterback's fault. However, Gailey wouldn't rule out the switch being permanent by saying Fitzpatrick is "going to take the reins and see where that takes us."
This marks the second time that Edwards has been benched after being replaced by Fitzpatrick midway through last year. And it's a significant setback for the fourth-year pro, who reclaimed the starting job by winning a three-way competition against Fitzpatrick and third-stringer Brian Brohm this offseason.
It also marks the Bills' fifth in-season change at quarterback in six years for a team that hasn't had a regular starter since Drew Bledsoe's three-year tenure ended in 2003.
Fitzpatrick said he had no inkling the switch was coming, but he took it in stride when informed by Gailey earlier in the day.
"We haven't really had a spark the last few weeks, and sometimes the best thing to do is move the pieces around a little bit," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm excited for the opportunity. Obviously, we've got a lot of work to do."
Taking over as the starter is nothing new for Fitzpatrick, who has 28 career appearances since being the St. Louis Rams' seventh-round pick in 2005 out of Harvard.
In his first season in Buffalo last year, Fitzpatrick went 5-4 in games in which he had a majority of the playing time for a team that finished with a 6-10 record. In 2008 with the Cincinnati Bengals, Fitzpatrick went 4-7-1 in finishing the season after Carson Palmer was hurt.
Edwards didn't make himself available to reporters Monday, one day after he expressed frustration following the loss.
"We've put in a lot of effort, a lot of time, a lot of coaching: To have this result is pretty frustrating," Edwards said. "I've got to do a good job of looking in the mirror, fixing what I need to fix, and somehow get these guys going."
Fitzpatrick, regarded as more decisive in the pocket than Edwards, is unafraid to throw a deep pass. The Bills completed three passes of 50 yards or longer last season, all of them by Fitzpatrick.
"There's some chemistry there because this isn't my first time stepping in with them, which I'm excited about," Fitzpatrick said. "The good part is the that there are pieces in place to get it done."
Wide receiver Lee Evans is off to a slow start. He has four catches for 69 yards and is coming off a game in which he was held without a reception for only the third time in his seven-year career. The running game has been mostly stalled, too, with Gailey still attempting to establish a rotation among his three backs, including first-round draft pick C.J. Spiller.
So much for the belief the Bills' attack would be immediately transformed under Gailey, who was hired in January in part because of his reputation as an offensive innovator. Buffalo's offense so far looks no different than the unit that has finished 25th or worse in the NFL in yards gained the previous seven seasons.
"I feel confident he can go in there and get some things done for us," Gailey said, noting Fitzpatrick had extensive practice time with the starters in the spring. "If I didn't, then I shouldn't have done this."
Notes: LG Andy Levitre's neck injury isn't as serious as the team feared, and Gailey said the lineman will have a chance to play this week. Levitre didn't return after he was hurt in the first half Sunday. ... The Bills are off to an 0-2 start for the fourth time in the last 10 years. ... Buffalo was held to under 200 yards in offense three times last season.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press