ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix all but called this season a rebuilding project on Thursday, suggesting it was too much to expect the team's inherent problems to be fixed overnight.
In speaking to reporters for the first time since August, Nix expressed his frustrations over the team's 0-4 start, and indicated this is not where he envisioned the Bills to be when he was hired in December.
Referring to it as a "painful" process, Nix stressed that fans will require patience as he intends to sticks to his plan to retool the Bills through the draft.
"I'll tell you we didn't get into this situation overnight, and we're not going to get out overnight. We knew it wouldn't be easy," Nix said. "We're going to stay the course and do it the way we planned because we know it works."
He plans to spend the rest of the season continuing to evaluate players to determine who will be part of the team's future. And Nix didn't rule out more changes to come after the team released former starting quarterback Trent Edwards and traded former first-round pick, running back Marshawn Lynch, to Seattle over the past two weeks.
"You don't like to use the word rebuild, but you've also got to evaluate everyday and try to do things to improve your team," Nix said. "We're putting seven days a week into trying to get it turned around. It'll be fun when it happens, and trust me, it'll happen."
Nix is the team's fourth general manager since John Butler was fired during the 2000 season. The Bills are also on their fifth coach in 10 years after Nix hired Chan Gailey to take over in January.
The Bills, who play host to Jacksonville (2-2) this weekend, are among the NFL's four winless teams. They are already in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for an 11th straight season.
The offense is sputtering, having failed to produce 230 yards in three of four games. And the defense has allowed 34 or more points in the past three games, and a combined 473 yards rushing in the past two.
Part of the evaluation process has already began following the team's recent moves.
Nix defended the decision to trade Lynch this week, as opposed to before the draft when the 2007 first-round draft pick had initially requested to be dealt.
Nix noted how Lynch provided the Bills depth with a three-back rotation, especially after Buffalo lost both Lynch and Fred Jackson to injuries in their preseason opener. Making the trade now made sense because it freed up space in a crowded backfield that's rounded out by rookie first-round pick C.J. Spiller.
The decision to keep and then eventually release Edwards two weeks ago drew criticism because there were questions of whether the quarterback deserved to return as starter after losing the job midway through last season.
Nix said he and Gailey wanted to see whether the fourth-year player could prove himself in a new system. Nix said Edwards showed promise throughout the offseason and preseason, before he began to show familiar signs of struggling in losing his first two starts of the regular season.
"Buffalo has got people all over the league that have been here that are playing good for other people," Nix said. "I didn't want to come in here and cut guys that could help us win. So when we got into the regular season and it didn't work out ... we decided that wasn't the answer for us or for him. So we made the change."
Edwards has since signed with the Jaguars and will serve as the team's backup this weekend.
Nix also defended the team's decision to sign veteran linebacker Chris Kelsay to a four-year contract extension potentially worth $24 million. The move was criticized as being overpriced, because Kelsay — though a seven-year starter — hasn't made a significant impact on defense since being selected by Buffalo in the second round of the 2003 draft.
Nix said the deal was struck in part because Kelsay was identified as a core leader.
"We decided that we've got four, five, six guys like that, maybe not great players, but good players, who set the tone," Nix said. "Chris Kelsay is a good player. He exemplifies what we want players to do and how we want them to be."