Will Dick Jauron Fit the Bills?

The "Is Dick Jauron a good coach?" debate is certainly an interesting one. Some will give reasons why he "could be," some will give reasons why he is not. Detractors will say supporters are using excuses or bad comparisons in Jauron's defense.

Going into 2005, Dick Jauron had the same five-year record as Bill Belichick did in his first five seasons as a head coach. Of course we can always point out that Belichick was also a well-regarded defensive coordinator. He was widely considered the best defensive coordinator in football.

So, why the losing five-year stint in Cleveland? Talent? Support staff? The detractors will use similar excuses for why some success-story coaches were once "poor" head coaches. Maybe it was just that the great Bill Belichick wasn't quite ready. Who knows?

Does Jauron's track record as a coordinator have any bearing on his potential success as a head coach? I don't know. What I do know is that a head coaching position is very different than a coordinator position. As a matter of fact it seems that there are more differences than similarities. It's the head of the I.T. division vs. the President of the company. Who knows more? Depends on how you look at it.

As a Bills fan, I can certainly testify to the fact that the most talented offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators don't always come out of the box with great success. Gregg Williams had the number one defense in several statistical categories prior to joining the Bills. He's had nice success as a defensive coordinator in Washington since leaving Buffalo. Mike Mularkey was the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh for three seasons prior to coming to Buffalo. In two of those seasons, Pittsburgh's offense was ranked in the top-three. Did I mention Kordell Stewart and former XFL-standout, Tommy Maddox were the QB's?

Jauron's most notable success came in 2001 when he was named "Coach of the Year" after a 13-3 season in Chicago. This great year was in Jauron's third season; the previous two were 5-11 and 6-10, respectively. Prior to Jauron, Chicago had just come off two 4-12 campaigns, so it took a couple of years to get things turned around. The 2001 season could be viewed as luck. Hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then, right? I don't believe this is the case.

Okay, brace yourself. Here come the excuses. When the Bears finished the 2001 season it also meant the end of their playing days at the "old" Soldier Field. The following year, while construction of the "new" Soldier Field was taking place, Chicago was forced to play all "home games" 150 miles away in Champaign, Ill. That's a royal pain in the rear-end, but it certainly seems manageable.

However, Chicago also lost two starting defensive backs to free agency that summer, and one to injury in the preseason. That left Mike Brown as the only returning, starting defensive back. Couple this with the conglomerate of injured players over the next few weeks, and you have a recipe for disaster. The 2002 Chicago Bears led the entire NFL in the injury department, and these injuries included the likes of Roosevelt Colvin, Ted Washington, R.W. McQuarters, and Phillip Daniels among others. By "others" I mean starting offensive lineman and their top two quarterbacks. A 4-12 campaign, while disappointing, now seems as if it were inevitable.

Good coaches know how to bounce back. The 2003 Chicago Bears did indeed bounce back, but not to the extent that would lead to Jauron keeping his job. There were certainly some hardships that year; Roosevelt Colvin left via free agency, Ted Washington was traded away, then starting guard Rex Tucker was lost for the season during the final preseason game, and starting tackle, Mark Colombo, couldn't recover from a knee injury he suffered the year before. This meant that Chicago was now working with a shell-offensive line. We Bills fans can certainly sympathize with that. In my opinion a 7-9 season is a disappointment most years. However, a 7-9 season, with an injury-plagued offensive line, coming after a 4-12 season in which your team is the most injured in the NFL, and when every game played was an away game, could actually be considered a success on some level.

As of today, I have no idea whether or not Dick Jauron is going to be a successful coach for the Buffalo Bills. What I do know is that there are arguments for, arguments against, and many, many circumstances that could determine the outcome of Jauron's tenure here.

Here's to hoping for the best.

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