Like many Bills fans, I thought that Dick Jauron’s firing was inevitable after the 2-8 finish to the season, scoring a whopping 6 points in their last 3 home games, going 0-6 in the division and blowing a 4-0 start to the season. So I was as disappointed and angry as everyone else when I heard that Ralph Wilson has decided to retain Jauron for at least another season. But, as i think about it more, I am starting to realize why this was the best move for the team this season. The Bills had 3 options as far as the coach goes: 1. Keep Jauron 2. Fire Jauron and hire one of the top available coaches (Cowher, Holmgren or Shanahan) or 3. Fire Jauron and hire another unknown coach with no experience. Bills fans of course were hoping Ralph Wilson would go with Option 2. The problem is that there is no chance that any of those coaches would come to Buffalo. In an attempt to show why, let me offer up this “letter to the coaching candidates”:
Dear Cowher, Holmgren, Shanahan,
I thought you might be interested in coming to coach the Buffalo Bills. Yes, it can be pretty nasty up here in the winter time, but its really a lovely city. If you can make it through the snow, 4th of July is really nice! Its not the biggest market in America but Russ Brandon has been doing a great job selling the souls of the Buffalo people to Toronto. But, all weather and market related issues aside, we have a really mediocre football team!
Our starting QB was given the confidence vote by Bill Walsh on his death bed! So we have committed to him despite the fact that he has a history of missing games for minor injuries, struggles in the type of weather that is most common late in the season in Buffalo, has only thrown more than 1 touchdown in a game 3 times in his career (only once in 2008), has never thrown for over 300 yards in a game, threw nearly 1/3 of his passes to his runningbacks this season, throws deep so rarely that defenses dont even cover deep against us, was ranked 27th in the league for TD percentage, 27th for TDs (tied with seneca Wallace and Mark Bulger), 23rd for passing yards, tied for 27th in the league for longest completion this season and checks down when receivers are wide open deep. But don’t worry we think he’s coming along nicely! Look at that pocket presence! Man does he look good in the pocket and he’s also great in press conferences! He’s much better than Losman at making excuses for this awful offense. Don’t worry about his tendency to get banged up because we have Gibran Hamdan to back him up. Thats right, Hamdan. Need we say more?
We’ve got two great runningbacks but a bunch of fat ineffective lineman so it doesnt matter. Our tightends wouldnt make the roster on most teams in the league let alone start. We have a great deep threat in lee Evans, but Edwards can’t throw the ball far enough for him to be a real factor, and behind him we have a solid 3rd receiver in Reed who is playing 2nd receiver and a bunch of special teams aces playing receiver behind him.
Our defense is pretty average too! we desperately need more linebackers, our only good Defnsive End is coming off an injury which may hobble him from here on out, behind him we have nobody, but I’m sure you can fix that. We need a Free Safety to compliment our underperforming first round draft pick at strong safety. Did I mention how good Whitner is at press conferences though? He guaranteed the team would make the playoffs in 2008, now thats the enthusiasm we like to see from our players! We do have a bunch of young corners but dont worry, when push comes to shove, we wont resign any of them when their contract is up as we will do with Jabari Greer this off-season. We have some talent at Tackle and middle linebacker, but the shoddy play at weakside linebacker and Defensive End all but negates their impact.
Our Special Teams is actually consistently very strong, we have a great punter and lots of strong return men. Our place kicker is consistent until the game is on the line. Unfortunately our special teams is only good because of the coaching Bobby April has provided them and he will most certainly be gone when we change head coaches.
Our last 4 coaches lasted 3 years or less. Also, the players we do have are all really young and inexperienced. So… Want the job?
P.S. I don’t believe in paying large coaching salaries so be prepared to take a big pay cut. See you on the sidelines!
There isn’t a top coach in the league that would want to take the reins of this mess right now. So that rules out option 2. That leaves a choice between continuity hopefully leading to enough improvement for this team to take the next step, or gambling on yet another unproven coordinator a la Mularkey, Williams etc. The Bills aren’t the only team that has been disappointed by hot coordinator coaching prospects. Look at Mangini and Crennel, both were arguably safer selections than ones the Bills have made and they both failed as well. Taking a new coach from the coordinator pool woudl almost certainly result in a full rebuild of this team by a guy that has never done it before. Very low odds of success. Despite the lack of change in overall record over the three Jauron years, the team has improved statistically. Buffalo improved from 30th to 25th on Offense overall from 2007 to 2008 and from 30th to 14th on defense. Considering that the team was ranked 30th in both categories in 2007, maybe our expectations were a little high? Miami may have had a dramatic improvement in their record this year, but they actually made a smaller jump in statistical ranking, Miami defensively improved from 23rd in 2007 to 15th and Offensively from 28th to 12th. So the Bills defense actually had greater improvement than the Dolphins while the Dolphins Offense made a big jump versus the Bills smaller jump. Why? The Dolphins switched to a proven reliable quarterback while the Bills stayed pat with Awful Losman backing up Mediocre Edwards. Thankfully, Losman’s walking away from Buffalo forces the Bills to obtain another quarterback from somewhere, lets hope they have enough sense to get somebody that will improve the team rather than sitting back and smiling about the “improvement” from Edwards which happened but not to a degree that should leave us all feeling comfortable.
It would have been nice to see a big name come in and take Buffalo to the next level, but as it stands, the Bills are probably better off continuing their slow improvement under Jauron than take another wild shot with an unknown comodity. At the very least, Jauron has the support of the players which actually says quite a bit. Even when the 2008 season was already dead for the Bills, the team came out and beat Denver on the road and played a solid close game against the Patriots. (Fred Jackson’s running in that game was spectacular, the Pats had nearly every player up to block the run in that strong wind, the Bills didn’t even pretend to pass the ball and Jackson still had 5 yards a carry. Wow.)