Firing of Jauron only first step on Bills road to recovery
By Scott Pitoniak
Published: November 17th, 2009
Icon Sports Media, Inc.
FIRING OF JAURON ONLY FIRST STEP ON BILLS ROAD TO RECOVERY
I donít expect immediate results at One Bills Drive now that Dick Jauron has been fired and replaced by defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. The team is a shambles, and itís going to take time and bold moves to pick up the pieces.
Still, I applaud this in-season change by owner Ralph Wilson because it at least shows that he is listening to the legions of frustrated Bills fans who gave up on the overmatched Jauron after a third consecutive 7-9 finish last season.
Jauron leaves Buffalo with a 24-33 record Ė a dismal .421 winning percentage Ė and zero winning seasons and zero playoff appearances. He is, by all accounts, a decent man, but he never showed the leadership skills or the passion necessary to a successful NFL head coach, either here or during his time with the Chicago Bears. He clearly didnít have what it took to lift this moribund franchise out of the doldrums that has seen it go nearly a decade without a playoff appearance.
Given the lack of talent he was forced to work with, Fewell did a decent job with this defense. He might blossom into a decent head coach, but he isnít the answer right now to what ails the Bills.
Wilson needs to do something dramatic Ė something similar to what he did back in 1978 when he went out and hired the most successful coach available, Chuck Knox. Itís going to cost Wilson a lot of money, and itís going to mean that heís going to have to turn the keys to the franchise over to the new guy, the way he did 31 years ago. Knox, who was coming off five consecutive NFC West titles with the Los Angeles Rams, was named coach and vice-president of football operations, which meant he had control over drafts, trades and free-agent signings. In just three years, he wound up turning a team that had lost 23 of 28 games in the two seasons prior to his arrival into AFC East champions.
As Iíve written in this cyberspace before, Iíd make an all-out push for Bill Cowher. Let him bring in his personnel evaluators to take over for Tom Modrak and John Guy. Let him bring in his own assistant coaches. Heck, let him bring his own chauffeur and chef if he wants. Let him do whatever he needs to do to change the culture of a locker room where losing has become acceptable, where accountability is lacking.
There are many talented program builders out there for Wilson to choose from Ė if not Cowher, then Mike Shanahan or Mike Holmgren or Jon Gruden. But the courtship needs to begin now, in earnest, because there are numerous other NFL dregs out there in dire need of architects of hope.
This change was long overdue. But it should be viewed as only the beginning. There are people out there who can turn this thing around. Itís up to Ralph to take the next big step. Itís going to take several million dollar bills to ensure that these Bills no longer are counterfeit.
A nationally recognized sports columnist and best-selling author, Scott Pitoniak is pursuing new challenges after 35 years in the newspaper business. He hopes one day to write the great American novel and hit a baseball over the wall at Yankee Stadium. In the meantime, he runs his own website Ė ScottPitoniak.com Ė and blogs about sports and lifeís other adventures.
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