Dick Jauron should have put a bow on J.P. Losman and stuffed him in Eric Mangini's stocking Sunday morning.
At least that would have saved time, heartache and maybe even his job. Instead, one horror show in East Rutherford, N.J. has set an entire franchise on fire.
And Jauron lit the match.
Seriously. When is enough enough? Clunkers against Cleveland, San Francisco and Miami ripe with terrible game management were the three-strikes-you're-out. Sunday's decapitating loss should be the ejection. Dick Jauron is a habitual loser as a NFL head coach. His scared-puppy offense in Chicago squandered a Super Bowl-caliber defense. And in Buffalo he's been woefully average: 7-9, 7-9 and in all likelihood 6-10.
A win at New York could have salvaged his career. Jauron Ball was at its finest. Marshawn Lynch was running possessed. Buffalo's retooled defense was mesmerizing Brett Favre. And then, at the most critical juncture of the game, what does Jauron do? Gives play-calling a shot. He overrules conventionality. You'd think Jauron would have learned over his three years to never --- never --- release J.P. Losman's chain when a game is on the line.
He did. The Bills paid for it.
NFL Network's Adam Schefter reported that the Bills have already inked Jauron to a contract extension through 2011 earlier in the season. Considering Ralph Wilson is cheaper than George Costanza, Jauron's job status is very murky. Of course he should be fired. Anyone who has watched this ulcer-building slide would say so. Jauron, though an upfront person and player's coach, will never lead a team to the Super Bowl.
True, it's unfair to stereotype a coach's entire tenure on the basis of one play. But Jauron's gaffe Sunday transcends reason. Three years of bland, blasé football finally reached its tipping point. Do not underestimate Jauron's decision to call a pass on that infamous 2:06 play. It's on-par with every blunder in Buffalo sports history. Brett Hull, Wycheck-to-Dyson, Benching Flutie, Losing to Pittsburgh's Third-Stringers, Rory Fitzpatrick in Game 7…and now Jauron 2:06.
Maybe Jauron was trying to be graceful after the game to alleviate the heat on Turk Schonert. Doesn't matter. When a game is in hand --- and your foot is on the opponent's jugular --- every single decision falls onto to head coach. Jauron's the one that signaled for a pass play, an asinine rollout pass to a fullback.
We won't relive that play too much here. You know the scenario: 2nd-and-6, 2:06 left, Lynch playing as if his pants were on fire, Duke Preston bench-pressing the possible Defensive Player of the Year (Kris Jenkins) and Buffalo on the verge of a season-spoiling win that easily could have triggered a momentum swing to take into the offseason.
I don't think that quick-thumbed 7-year-olds playing Madden even attempt a pass in this situation. J.P. Losman is the one that fumbled no question. But Dick Jauron put him in a position to fail.
Ralph Wilson is in denial. He hired yet another terrible coach and is reluctant to admit his mistake. That's why he has blamed Buffalo's plunge on a lack of talent. Yes, he's right. But Jauron is the one pushing the buttons. A lack of talent did not lose Sunday's game. A lack of brains did.
The Buffalo Bills --- the players --- punched in a gallant effort Sunday. Nobody expected the Bills to remotely be in this game. The Jets had everything to lose in their three-team horse race for the division title. Buffalo had nothing to play for. And still, the offensive line churned out its best effort of the season. Against arguably the best rush defense in the league, Lynch averaged six yards per carry. Roscoe Parrish finally busted loose for a long punt return to set up a score. The defense didn't record a sack but still flustered Brett Favre into an awful day, tipping and picking off passes.
This one had moral victory written all over it, solace for the team to manifest into something bigger. Something that carries into next season. And the head coach cheated his players.
Jauron didn't comment on his reported contract at practice Monday. If it's true, then Wilson has some major explaining to do. You can't spin this, Ralph. The letdown losses to inferior teams and one horrendous play call Sunday are far too raw to sugarcoat. Jauron has to go.
If the team and Jauron did sign an extension, the Bills have no choice but to buy it out.