I’ll give Bills head coach Dick Jauron this much: whether it’s his three consecutive 7-9 seasons, his play it safe style or his sideline demeanor, the man is consistent.
He’s a guy that exudes routine. He probably eats the same thing for breakfast every morning. Reads the newspaper in the same order. Drives to Ralph Wilson Stadium the same way. Many times I’ve watched Jauron on the sidelines and it seems as if he’d be just as happy rearranging his sock drawer as he would be coaching on Sunday afternoons. Jauron is indeed the poster child for “close to the vest.” He doesn’t seem like he has the stomach for taking risks. I’ll go you double or nothing he’s never walked into the local convenience store and bought a lottery ticket.
One thing’s for sure, though: with each passing loss, with each close to the vest play call, the odds of him lasting past the Bills’ bye week in Week 9 keep withering away. And fast, too I might add. But if ever there were a year for Jauron not to play it safe, you’d think it would be this season. The fan base is tired of losing and we’re way past Jauron’s tired play it safe act. The 90-year-old hall of fame owner isn’t getting any younger. Extension or not, if the Bills don’t earn a playoff berth, there’s no way he’ll be back. And yet, he’s still coaching as if whether he goes 14-2 or 2-14, he knows he’ll be back next season.
The more you listen to his post-game interviews or read what he has to say after a game, the more he makes you reach for the nearest waste basket. And to think, it was only two weeks ago when he was asked after the Monday night game against New England about Leodis McKelvin’s decision to run it out rather than take a knee. I believe it was Jauron who said he didn’t have a problem with McKelvin’s decision. That he was “trying to win the football game”.
Which brings me to his fabulous explanation last Sunday. After deciding to punt from their own 29-yard line with about seven and a half minute to play trailing 17-7. It was Jauron who said, “It’s a 10-point game. We’re not going to give them the game. They’ve got to earn the game. That’s not to say we might not have made it. But it’s not a good gamble at that point, in my opinion, to give them a short field in a tight football game. We had fought the whole time to get it there, to keep it there.”
I don’t buy it and neither should you. What Jauron means is that he didn’t want lose by a bigger margin. He didn’t want the box score to look too bad in the morning paper. Losing by 10 points to the hottest team in the league apparently was a win in Jauron’s book. Translation number two: he didn’t have enough gumption to keep the offense on the field and roll the dice. After all, that would constitute as a gamble. Instead, he decided to send an already spent defense back onto the field to attempt to hold the fort just once more. No one’s disputing that the Bills certainly held their own against the Saints (the defense had a lot to do with it), but is there really a wide difference between losing 31-7 or 27-7? Let’s just say the offense doesn’t convert the fourth down and the Saints put six on the board rather than the field goal they got. There’s about as much a difference in a four-point score as there is between trash and garbage.
It’s not as if his decision went unnoticed. If I’m Trent Edwards or anyone else on the Buffalo offense, I can read between the lines: our coach doesn’t have any confidence in us. He doesn’t believe we can get the job done. The message was received loud and clear. The poster child for playing it safe struck again. I would like to think that in those situations, Bill Belichick or Jeff Fisher wouldn’t hesitate to go for it because they’re confident that their team can succeed in those types of situations.
Rather than succeed, Jauron opts to secede. He’s successfully steering the Bills towards another below average season for the fourth year in a row. You’ve got to give the devil his due, though. The man is nothing if he’s not consistent.