With 3 games left, Jauron's job in question

The heat is on Buffalo's head coach down the stretch run...

Is Dick Jauron coaching for his job over the final three games of the season?

The Bills front office is sending out plenty of mixed signals on his future following the team's major collapse this season, which has put Buffalo on the mathematical brink of playoff elimination.

The Bills (6-7) have lost seven of their last nine games after starting the year 4-0. They are 0-4 in the AFC East after last Sunday's embarrassing effort in a 16-3 loss to Miami in Toronto, and travel to New York this weekend to face a hungry Jets team that sits tied for the division lead with the Dolphins and Patriots with an 8-5 record.

Owner Ralph Wilson, cornered by reporters in Toronto, was reluctant to blame Jauron and his assistants for his team's struggles, which include two weeks of horrific offensive football.

After scoring 54 points against Kansas City, second most in club history, the offense has gone two weeks without a touchdown in losses to San Francisco and Miami. Against Miami, the Bills offense managed just 163 yards, the lowest total in 37 games.

Wilson's focus wasn't so much on coaching, though. It was more on talent, or lack thereof.

"We just didn't play well," Wilson said. "We haven't got the talent. We didn't play well. The coaches? They can't go out and kick the ball. They can't go out and tackle. ... Hey, the way we're playing it's tough to get three points."

It's known that Wilson, 90, doesn't relish conducting another coach search, which, were he to fire Jauron, would be his fifth this decade.

He was more perturbed about past draft failures, particularly those made under former general manager Tom Donahoe, who was in charge of all operations for five seasons (2001 through 2005).

Donahoe's top personnel men, Tom Modrak and John Guy, are still with the team and their work is now under intense scrutiny.

Since 2000, when the late John Butler was in charge, Buffalo has had 10 first-round draft picks. Only two start (Lee Evans and Donte Whitner). Four no longer are with the team, with two outright busts (Erik Flowers and Mike Williams).

While the last three drafts seemingly have brought in a wave of good developing players, the Bills have regressed under Jauron's watch and overall the organization is paying for too many first-round misses.

First-year chief operating officer Russ Brandon said he was "not in a position" to talk about Jauron's contract status, presumably because Wilson won't let him. Jauron reportedly has been given a three-year extension but the team refuses to confirm or deny it.

Brandon did say the team's recent play was "unacceptable," and that nobody is in a position to avoid scrutiny.

"We're extremely disappointed," he said. "It's unacceptable to be in this position after a 5-1 start. This was a season in which we had to take the next step and nobody in this organization is happy about it.

"I think everybody should be under fire in the organization."

The normally stoic Jauron is feeling the heat, that's no secret.

"The whole thing is really disappointing," he said of the Miami loss, which embarrassed the organization before fans in the Toronto market, where Buffalo now considers part of its fan base.

"I know our fans are disappointed, too. The game was a big letdown. We were looking forward to it, and we knew how important it was for us. We just didn't perform. It reflects on me. That's on my shoulders."

Rumblings have begun that Jauron has lost his locker room and is not getting through to his players any longer. Players questioned the play calling afterward, particularly a pass at the Miami 3-yard line that led to an interception by J.P. Losman.

"I don't feel like I've lost the locker room in any way," Jauron said. "I would say there's a danger of everything. I've always been that way. I've never taken anything for granted from day one until the present. I suspect you could say yes, there's always a danger, the same danger that existed early. Do I think it will happen? No, I don't.

"From my perspective there is energy put into the game and there is emotion because I live with them and I see it. Production-wise it just hasn't been there. In terms of getting them ready, again, they are a group that works hard and that's what's been disappointing. Their work has not been rewarded and it's a reflection on me."

In fairness, players have rallied around their coach and are being accountable.

"That's the nature of the beast," safety George Wilson said. "When you lose the head coach and quarterback take all the criticism. When you win they get the accolades. In no way is this on coach Jauron. He has done a fine job of leading this team. He always lets us know where we stand."

"No," said defensive tackle Kyle Williams when asked if he thought Jauron has lost the locker room. "I think it would be really hard to lose the guys in this locker room no matter what was going on. And as far as him being under fire, we're all under it. We just haven't been making the plays that we need to make in football games and we've put us in this bad position."

The Bills know a victory over the Jets on Sunday would be a nice remedy and set the course for a possible three-game win streak to end the season. Do that, and Jauron's job would be safe.

"I hope it's not too late," cornerback Terrence McGee said. "I mean, the picture doesn't really look too good for us getting to the playoffs. But as far as us getting some wins, I still feel good that we can go out and get these next three wins, so hopefully we can go out and do that."

Courtesy of The Sports Xchange

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