Jauron's contract ends after '08 season (buffalobills.com)
Things are going well for the Buffalo Bills. The team is 5-1, holds sole possession of first place in the AFC East, and have legitimized themselves as AFC contenders for the first time in recent memory. Trent Edwards is proving himself to be a viable answer to the team's quarterback question - one that has haunted them for over a decade. The Bills are young with a lot of potential - and barring any unforeseen circumstances, they're set up for a nice run of productive seasons as playoff contenders - or more.
That changes if Dick Jauron isn't the team's head coach after the 2008 season.
Jauron is one of the most respected men in his business, and he has played a large role in - at least to this point - resurrecting a franchise that has been in the league's basement for nearly a decade. With an abundance of NFL head coaching job openings likely this coming January, the Bills would be smart to lock Jauron up now - before it's too late.
Jauron's true role in Buffalo
Let's get this out of the way: Jauron isn't universally admired within the Bills fan base. Not everyone falls in love with a coach as reserved as Jauron; Bill Cowher's spittle sells fans more easily than Jauron's unflinching calm. But fan opinion doesn't matter here. What matters is that, simply put, Jauron is getting the job done.
His players respect him. They play hard for him. He's put together a very solid coaching staff, which for the first time in his career includes a productive offensive coordinator. He's 19-19 in two-plus seasons on the job here, and again - if things go according to plan, we're likely to see a lot more wins heading this way.
More importantly, this is Jauron's team in the sense that he built it. Don't underestimate the fact that he works within a completely unique front office structure. Russ Brandon, the team's COO, has no football background - he's essentially the PR guy, steering the franchise but having little to do with the team. Tom Modrak and his team scout college players; John Guy's staff keep tabs on available pro prospects. Jauron is technically lower in the chain of command, but to say that he doesn't directly influence every personnel decision is naive. In reality, Modrak and Guy essentially work for Jauron. It's the head coach that has put this team together. This front office structure works because of Dick Jauron. He's the glue holding it together - and the four-headed team has done an admirable job to date.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the roster. Every guy on that field is a "Dick Jauron guy", whether we're talking about Edwards' smarts, Donte Whitner's leadership, Chris Kelsay's grit or Marshawn Lynch's heart. This team was built in Jauron's image - and they've got a very bright future.
Is a deal coming? It should be
We heard reports earlier this off-season from ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the Bills and Jauron were working on a contract extension. The three-year deal that Jauron signed in January of 2006 is set to expire after this season. There have been discussions about an extension, but the lack of public progress since Week 2 is indicative of the fact that the Bills may be putting an extension on the back burner.
I'm not sure what Ralph Wilson is waiting for. Three head coaches have already been fired this season, and we're not even half way through the slate of games. There could be, quite literally, eight or nine other openings after the season is over. If Jauron remains unsigned after Buffalo's '08 season concludes, you can bet large sums of money that Jauron will get offers from other teams. Think the Ford family wouldn't like to bring Jauron back to Detroit and hire the coach that they should have hired in 2006? Think Cincinnati wouldn't want to replace the controversial Marvin Lewis with a respected leader like Jauron? Think again.
Maybe you like Jauron, maybe you don't. It doesn't matter. Jauron has three things in Buffalo that he's never had before, and may not have again: influence, a quarterback and an offensive coordinator. He might not get that anywhere else; he'd be crazy to want to leave. But he's also not stupid. He just turned 58 years old two weeks ago (happy belated birthday, Coach). He's not going to coach forever. The next deal he signs may very well be his last. That deal needs to come in Buffalo. If it doesn't, it could be "back to the drawing board" for the Bills.