Jauron on the fan base's hot seat (Associated Press)
Before everyone gets all up in arms about this article, a quick disclaimer: anyone who has read this blog for more than a week knows that I'm a pretty fervent supporter of Dick Jauron. This piece has very little to do with that opinion. I'm not going to publicly defend Jauron right now, because frankly, the team he and his staff is fielding doesn't qualify for public defending. Plus, he's a big boy, and can take the heat. He doesn't need me to sing his praises or proclaim that the sun shines out of his every orifice. It doesn't. I'm not going to rip him, either, however, because well, you're going to see enough of that elsewhere over the next several months, probably including right here. But not today. Today's a different piece.
Several times as I've defended Jauron over the past two months - again, make your own opinions on the man, if you don't have them already - I've repeatedly heard a version of the following argument about Jauron's coaching style, his decision-making, and his personnel activity:
"Brian, the definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!"
Sure. That's one way to put it, and it fits with the current situation the Buffalo Bills are facing. If we submit that definition as law, then firing Jauron would be insane. The Bills have tried the whole "let's fire the coach and gut the roster" bit. Wade Phillips was ousted despite a winning record. Gregg Williams was fired because of his terrible record. Mike Mularkey resigned after two years, despite a vote of confidence from then-newbie GM Marv Levy. By firing Jauron, the Bills would just be making one more move to classify the franchise as "insane".
Big change is bad change
I know what you're thinking. Galliford's gone off his rocker and thinks that the status quo is OK, that he accepts mediocrity, is OK with losing, and that all change is bad. Trust me, I've heard it all before. I've been called pretty much everything in the book, with the phrase "Jauron cronie" topping the list. Apparently, if you're a fan of the coach, your skin needs to be as thick as the skin of said coach.
Let me assure you that I'm not down with the status quo. The team has lost six of their last seven games. Clearly, a lot needs to change; it's foolish to argue against that point after witnessing the past two months of "football". But if you see me defend Jauron or, in this case, warn against wishing him fired, don't make the mistake of thinking that I'm fine with the current direction of the franchise. I'm definitely not. Neither is anybody else who makes the same argument.
But not all change is good change. Personnel change? Happens every year, and the Bills very obviously need a lot of it at several key positions. Scheme change? That would be welcome; it sincerely bothers me that the Bills aren't successful at home, where the weather and the crowd should be decisive factors week in and week out. Schematic change would be welcome as well. Staff change? Turk Schonert isn't a popular guy, and though he's probably not going anywhere, he could stand to steal a page or two out of the rushing section of the Giants' or Steelers' playbooks. Head coaching change? That's where things get hairy. Change the head coach, and you move from tweaking to gutting. We've seen enough gutting. It's time to break the insanity mold.
The remainder of 2008
At 6-6, the Bills inexplicably remain just two games out of the division lead in what still remains one of the tightest divisional races in the entire league. There are three divisional games to go. Hey, I've seen crazier things happen. Buffalo suddenly bucking their latest trend, waking up and winning out? That would rank as the craziest.
Considering the way the Bills have played over the past two months, 2008 is essentially a wash. No, the team won't quit, but they're likely not going to win, either. What this team needs more than anything - yes, more than a playoff berth itself - is some momentum heading into 2009. In his first two seasons on the job in Buffalo, Jauron's Bills have tallied a record of 3-5 (combined) over the final quarter of the season - 2-2 in '06 and 1-3 last season. Neither qualifies as momentum, in my book, when you consider the Bills ended 2006 with two straight losses and 2007 with three straight. 3-0 turned into 0-5. Sounds a lot like this season, eh? With momentum, however, 2009 looks a lot more promising. Confidence would mean a lot to Buffalo's young roster, as well as to the embattled coaching staff and fan base.
We know where the Bills need to improve on the field. I implore you, Bills fans, to recognize that while the coaching needs improvement as well, if Jauron's regime is ousted, this franchise will be set back once again. That fits in with our definition of insanity. Showing some patience while rooting for a young team? That doesn't.