Despite a 25-16 road loss to the Miami Dolphins, not all was lost Sunday for the Buffalo Bills. Reports surfaced prior to yesterday's game (via ESPN) that the Bills and head coach Dick Jauron have agreed to a three-year contract extension. He is now signed on as head coach of the Bills through the close of the 2011 season.
I wrote just this past week that I thought the time was past for the Bills to have re-signed their head coach. So, naturally, I was pleased to hear this news. But that loss to Miami - which comes largely on the shoulders of coaching failures, both offensively and defensively - likely dampens this news for a lot of Bills fans out there.
Jauron has never been anything more than a polarizing figure during his coaching career at this level. He is 19-20 in two-plus seasons as the Bills' head coach, and in nine years as the head coach of three NFL teams, he's compiled a 55-69 record. Fans either hate the fact that the Bills are committing themselves to a man with a career losing record for the next three seasons, or love the fact that the team will have continuity for the first time since Marv Levy roamed the sidelines.
Count me among the latter group. Compared to the team that Jauron inherited in January of 2006, this Bills team - while struggling to find its identity - is one of the most talented young teams in the league. They're not there yet, but they are improving, and at a much faster rate than even the most optimistic of Bills fans could have predicted. Jauron deserved the chance to see this project through to the finish; now he's got that chance.
This is a bold statement by Bills owner Ralph Wilson, the man responsible for the negotiation and signing - he's putting his reputation on Jauron's shoulders. Jauron is now, for the foreseeable future, the face of the franchise. Wilson took a bit of a gamble on this one, but Buffalo's getting better for a reason. That reason is Jauron.