Jauron Back as Bills Coach After Another Underachieving Year

By PFC Bills Writer Jonathan Wheelock

Dick Jauron avoided the trend of coaching firings this offseason when it was announced that he would keep his position as Bills head coach.  Owner Ralph Wilson repeatedly dodged around questions concerning Jauron’s status throughout the last half of the season, but ultimately decided to honor Jauron’s contract extension.  After a promising 5-1 start, the Bills were plagued by a sputtering, disorganized offense and a defense that couldn’t seem to get off the field.  The development of quarterback Trent Edwards was halted by an injury, the implementation of a new offensive system, and inconsistent line protection. What resulted was a winless record in the AFC East, with losses to underachieving teams in Cleveland and San Francisco along the way.  Their last performance, a 13-0 home loss to New England, arguable could have cemented the firing of Jauron.

The colossal failure that was this season was undoubtedly caused by Jauron’s complacency and lack of leadership skills.  The infamous “golf claps” after a touchdown or key play seemed to be Jauron’s only way of expressing any emotion at all during a game.  The vague, ambivalent rhetoric in which he conducted press conferences conjured up the ghosts of Bills past: the “ever-eloquent” Greg Williams or the mumbling dullard Wade Phillips.  After watching a team like the Arizona Cardinals, led by a proven but weathered journeyman quarterback in Warner and sophomore head coach Ken Whisenhunt, the Bills’ yearly ineptitude has become unrivaled.  Fans will show up regardless, but a playoff drought such as the one Bills fans annually endure is enough to have them reminiscing about the glory days of Levy, when coaches held players accountable, and above all, motivated them to win.

Despite the setbacks this season, the players adamantly support Jauron.  They seem to be the only ones who truly believe in the over-used maxim that the Bills “are on the right track.”  What is it about blowing a potential playoff berth that makes a coach trustworthy?  Miscalculation after miscalculation is simply tolerated and overlooked by players and owner alike.  Wilson has called him “a really nice guy;” a man of principle and dignity.  But since when does being virtuous win you football games?  Mangini and Crennel, both of whom had a 10-6 season at one point with their teams, are out. Jauron is looking to four-peat a 7-9 record, which is apparently enough to secure your job, so long as the marketing teams can make another mediocre Bills team look like a Superbowl contender to the fans.

Maybe starting at square one isn’t the answer either, but at some point, a coach has to fulfill expectations, or he has become a bane to his team. It’s just before halftime, the Bills have the ball, and it’s third and one for Jauron this year.  Maybe he could just run the clock out, or tink about how much Bills fans really do love a great punt – but what Jauron does with this opportunity will either take the franchise that one crucial step forward, or bury them for years to come.