Bears Believe in Jauron

Some would say the proof's in the pudding. Others contend that it's a bit of luck and a soft schedule.<p> If you play for the Bears, though, it's been a mutual agreement: Dick Jauron is the right man for the job.<p> Recently, Chicago quarterback Jim Miller said he thought Jauron was a better coach than Atlanta's Dan Reeves, Pittsburgh's Bill Cowher and Jacksonville's Tom Coughlin.

   "I just believe that," Miller said Wednesday at Halas Hall, sticking to his word. "As for situational football he's a better coach in that respect. No disrespect to them because they're great football coaches, but I've played for all three of them and I'm going by what I believe.

   "It's nothing vindictive that any other coach didn't give me an opportunity and just because Dick Jauron has. I just truly believe he's a better football coach in that respect."

   For the most part, guys on the field decide a coach's fate. In the case of Jauron, it lies in what general manager Jerry Angelo thinks. And the first-year head honcho still hasn't given Jauron a ringing endorsement for the future.

   Even after an 8-2 start, and the fact the Bears are atop the NFC Central standings.

   Jauron backs off whenever the topic of his future comes up, and usually puts the focus back on the team.

   "I don't think the team reflects my personality at all," said the easy-going and always friendly Jauron. "I think the reason (the team) may be humble is they should be humble. We haven't really done anything yet. We're 8-2 and we're on top of the division, but that doesn't mean anything right now.

   "We've got six weeks to play and they're six crucial weeks for our football team. Then we'll see where we are."

   The Bears finished 6-10 in Jauron's first season in 1999 and 5-11 last season.

   Chicago had four losing seasons in Dave Wannstedt's six seasons, where it went a combined 40-56 and made the playoffs just once.

   Jauron was picked by many publications as the NFC Central's worst coach going into the 2001-02 season, and has been rumored to be gone after the season, regardless of what happens.

   Jauron seemed set up to fail before the season even started as Angelo, who has full control of team decisions, cut defensive tackles Jim Flanigan and Mike Wells, wide receiver Bobby Engram, cornerback Thomas Smith and traded QB Cade McNown.

   What has transpired is a solid season under the circumstances. The Bears have mixed older talent with young stars and have avoided major injuries, with the exception of Marcus Robinson, to surprise almost everybody around the league.

   "It's been the same around here, but the record's different," safety Mike Brown said. "People are saying, 'What is Coach Jauron doing different?' He's been the same guy. It's just the first couple years he's been here we've struggled. But this year everything is going the way that was planned from the beginning.

   "He's been the same, so I think that's why you don't hear guys saying his name because he's been the same. There's been no change in his attitude."

   If it was up to the players, Jauron is the guy for the future. Unfortunately, they can control only so much.

   "He's a very confident guy and he's very respectful; he's true to his word," Brown said. "He's very upfront about what's going on and how he feels about the team and what we need to do.    "I think a lot of the guys really respect him a lot."


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