Saturday, December 27, 2008

Who's next?

Mention Dick Jauron's name around Buffalo Bills' fans these days, and the reaction generally is less than polite. He seems to be the designated fall guy for the current season, one which lifted everyone's hopes in September and October, only to see those hopes crash in November and December.

The debate centers around Jauron should be back next season. Firing the coach is always a popular move when things don't go perfectly, and Jauron hasn't had a perfect year. My guess is if the Bills did indeed give him a contract extension earlier this season, it's difficult to believe they would bite the bullet on that and get rid of him. Owner Ralph Wilson has never paid top dollar for coaches in the past, with the probable exception of Chuck Knox, so it's unlikely he's going to pay more than a million dollars a year for Jauron not to coach and twice that for someone like Bill Cowher to coach.

A couple of points have been raised about Jauron's coaching style in my circle of friends. I'm buying one of them, but not the other. Let me start by being disagreeable.

There's a line of thought that says that Jauron doesn't show enough passion in his job, that football players need to be fully motivated by the coach with a liberal amount of screaming. Baloney. There are all kinds of way to win as a professional sports coach. Vince Lombardi was known to yell. Bill Belichick is prepared. Bill Walsh was cerebral. Bum Phillips was relaxed -- once stopping practice so everyone could come over and meet Willie Nelson. I will say that players sometimes tune out coaches after a while, and a different approach sometimes get their attention back. (For some reason this seems particularly true in hockey, and I have no idea why.) A couple of more wins, and Jauron might be promoted from "boring" to "shrewd" by some Bills' fans.

Jauron's lack of passion, I think, does hurt him in the public relations sense of the job, though. We've heard he's bright and loved by his players, but he never lets the public see that side of him through appearances in news conferences, etc. A little personality sometimes buys a coach the benefit of the doubt. Jauron has a very low profile; it's not like he has his own television show during the week. When Lou Saban fired a piece of chalk at a camera and said on his TV show, "Damn it, it should have worked" in describing a failed play, fans got a look into what he was like. When Marv Levy wrote and sang a Bills' fight song on television -- one of the greatest moments in coaches' show history (not a long list, admittedly) -- fans joined Levy in the fun.

It's important to remember that in most cases, the head coach is the public face of the football team. When that face becomes essentially a blank slate, he's not liable to get the benefit of the doubt.

1 comment:

KKC said...

The News should publish this as a column in the Sports section.