Taboo Time: Let’s Give Jauron Some Credit

Posted on October 26, 2009 by Patrick Moran

While the Buffalo Bills offense is hardly a juggernaut , the defense is starting to earn themselves quite the reputation.  Their “bend but don’t break” philosophy is working, in large part because they’re  extremely opportunistic.

The Bills have picked off nine passes in the past two games.  They give up yards in piles, especially in the running game.  But they seem to come up with a big stop when they need it most.

Forget the All-Rookie team or Pro Bowl whispers. Jairus Byrd is emerging as a candidate for NFL defensive player of the year. He has multiple interceptions in consecutive games and five over his last three.  Not to dig at Donte Whitner, but that’s two more than the 2006 eighth overall pick has in his 47-game career.  Whitner is a steady presence, but Byrd is rapidly becoming a super star.

By no coincidence, the Bills have now won two in a row- and both have come on the road.

Just when the fat lady was reaching for the mic to sing this team goodbye, someone pulled the plug.  Out of nowhere, the Bills will host the Houston Texans at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday with plenty on the line.

I know it’s virtually taboo to write around these parts, but lets spread some credit to besieged head coach Dick Jauron.

After dropping one of the ugliest games in team history to the Cleveland Browns a few weeks ago, Jauron seemingly had every reason to throw in the towel.  The Bills have been ravished with injuries more than any team in the league. Brad Butler, Leodis McKelvin and Kawika Mitchell are long gone.  Paul Posluszny missed a large chunk of the season, as has Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott.  Marshawn Lynch missed three games with a suspension. The offensive line has started what essentially amounts to four rookies the past two weeks, and they lost their starting quarterback to another head injury against the Jets. Their marquee attraction, Terrell Owens has been about excitable on the field as he’s been off it. We won’t even mention trading their best player (Jason Peters) during the off-season.

So at 1-4 following the Cleveland calamity, all signs pointed towards a run for the first overall draft pick.  Fans grew frustrated to the point donations were successfully solicited to erect a billboard on the thruway calling for Ralph Wilson to fire Jauron.

Admit it.  You’ve called for his head.  I know I have, and for good reason.  After nine straight postseason-less campaigns, frustration is at its breaking point.  Just two weeks ago this team was headed nowhere faster than a Floyd Mayweather combination.   Jauron has had his chance to turn things around, and he’s failed miserably. He’s coached the team to three straight 7-9 seasons and early on it seemed a stretch we’d even get to that point this year.

But a funny thing happened en route to one of the most unacceptable seasons in franchise history.  The Buffalo Bills are showing an immense amount of fight under adversity.

While most Bills’ supporters threw the towel in on Jauron long ago, the players clearly have not.  To a man, we’ve heard players in the locker room say time and time again they have Jauron’s back, and for now it’s showing on the field.  Despite all the injuries, an offensive line that would struggle against elite college teams and quarterback play rivaling the days of Joe Dufek and Bruce Mathieson, this team is winning games. In this league, that’s what it’s all about.

The offense has been rotten, but the defensive talent Jauron has coached and assembled is radically underrated.  Sans the Miami fiasco, the defense has played well enough to win every game this season.  While they’ve faced their share of anemic offenses (Cleveland, Tampa Bay) and inexperienced gunslingers (Chad Henne, Mark Sanchez), Buffalo also slowed down Tom Brady and Drew Brees; two of the best in the game.

Maybe they’re not quite circling the wagons as the Super Bowl era teams figuratively did, but at the very least this edition isn’t quitting on their coach.   All things considered, Jauron has been getting everything he has from his roster and he’s out coached two of the more known names in the league the past few weeks in Rex Ryan and John Fox.

Jauron doesn’t say much at his press conference, but that hasn’t meant he’s scared to make statements.  He punished highly paid punt returner Roscoe Parrish with a benching the past two weeks for costing the team with a fumble against Cleveland. He’s resisted the temptation to try too hard to get Terrell Owens more involved in the passing game to the point where it becomes a detriment to the real No. 1,  Lee Evans.  He benched ineffective tackle Kirk Chambers after Jonathan Scott got hurt in favor of former practice squad player Jamon Meredith.

His team stayed universally behind him, even when things were at their darkest. They continue to bring their lunch pals to work and put forth the best effort their talent level allows.   For that, Jauron deserves a lot of credit.  A lot of coaches would’ve lost this team after the pathetic start and the coach on the hot seat.  Jauron didn’t and like it or not, that’s testament to his leadership with the club.

As preposterous as it seems to fathom, the Bills are not out of the AFC playoff race.  If they can defeat Houston this Sunday they head to the bye at 4-4.  The second half schedule sets up extremely favorably.  They play their entire division again and all three contests will be on their own turf (or Toronto’s in the Jets case).  They have three extremely winnable road games at Tennessee, Jacksonville and Kansas City.  If by chance the season comes down to the final week, they host Indianapolis, a team that could very well have a first round bye wrapped up and elect to rest a lot of starters.  So as inconceivable as it seemed two weeks ago, this Jauron-coached team is very much alive.

I’ve been around the Bills’ block too many times to fall into any traps. It‘s probable Jauron is just making his annual magical run to a fourth consecutive 7-9 season.  As a rite of passage under him, just when you think his team has turned the corner-the club goes out and lays giant stink bombs when the season is on the line.

In all likelihood, the only thing Jauron is accomplishing right now is the having the Bills play their way out of a very high pick in next year’s draft.

But for now, I’ll bite again.  Suddenly, I’m excited about the Texans game on Sunday.

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5 Comments on Taboo Time: Let’s Give Jauron Some Credit

  1. Eric

    Funny, two weeks ago I was hoping for the Bills to lose. Now, next sunday they sucked me back and will be rooting for a win. I do not like Jauron but even I have to admit he’s done well the last two weeks, especially with game management, arguably his biggest knock.

  2. jimbo

    UMMMMMMMM NO

  3. Garrett

    Keep Jauron? Give him credit for beating the mediocre Panthers? Give him credit for having the Bills take control/blow it/take control/blow it/take control/blow it/take control/win against the Jets? Give him credit for having his last two wins come from a backup QB? Was this article serious or just a big practical joke?

    I will give credit to Perry Fewell for the defense playing out of their minds and Byrd is going to be a standard bearer for the defense for years…unless we decide to not spend money on him like Nate Clements and Antoine Winfield.

  4. The Real

    This team is a joke. Coach, Owner, FO, and honestly, their loyal fan base is a joke. After two awful wins, everyone is back on the bandwagon. How gullible can you all be? What’s next? TO is gonna light it up this week? Drastic change is a must. Until that time, have a great time picking in the middle of the draft and hoping that this will all be ok soon.

  5. LifetimeBillsFan

    Well said, Pat.

    Dick Jauron may not be a good enough in-game coach to consistently make a team a playoff, let alone Super Bowl, contender, but his players love him and consistently play hard for him and he does a good job of developing young players early on in their careers. It may be that this will turn out to be nothing more than another run to a gut-wrenching 7-9 season filled with “what might have beens”, but, truth-be-told, with the young, inexperienced offensive line that the Bills and the problems at the QB position this team really isn’t good enough to be a 7-9 team. Nor was the team that Jauron coached to a 7-9 finish his first season.

    Ultimately, however, head coaches aren’t judged on their ability to make bad or young teams competitive enough to finish 7-9. They are judged on their ability to take them to that point and then get them over the hump that separates the perennial Super Bowl contenders from the occasional one-year playoff contenders and the mediocre hopefuls that never are really good enough to make it to a Super Bowl.

    Jauron has yet to show that he has what it takes as a head coach to get a team over that hump. And, all that a run to a 7, 8 or even 9 win season may serve to do is give Ralph Wilson sufficient reason to decide to give Jauron another chance to prove that he does, regardless of what Bills fans think about that.

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