Sunday's 41-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans was apparently the final straw.
Team owner Ralph Wilson fired head coach Dick Jauron Tuesday after 3 1/2 seasons. In his tenure, Jauron has gone 24-33. More telling, the Bills are 6-15 in their last 21 games.
The news is somewhat of a surprise considering Wilson's history of cost-saving decisions. Buffalo's owner must pay Jauron $6 million over the next two seasons. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was named the interim head coach a few hours later.
Trumpeting continuity, Wilson brought Jauron back for a fourth season. Buffalo showed life with back-to-back wins against the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers but implosions against Houston and Tennessee was enough evidence for Wilson to pull the plug. The Bills are 3-6, third worst in the AFC.
“I am announcing today that I am relieving Dick Jauron from his duties as our head coach, effective immediately," Wilson said in a team release. "I have tremendous respect for Dick and thank him for all of his efforts during these past four years. While this was a very difficult decision, I felt that it is one that needed to be made at this time for the best interest of our team. We will now focus on moving forward and preparing for our game this week in Jacksonville.”
It was presumed that Jauron had a short leash coming into this season. Jauron made a handful of rash decisions that suggested his seat was boiling. In addition to the team signing controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens, Jauron fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert merely 10 days before the season and abruptly released left tackle Langston Walker.
His last-ditch effort to revive Buffalo's offense -- the no-huddle -- never took flight and the Owens experiment has been a failure. Buffalo's offense ranks 29th in the NFL, in large part to its anemic passing game. The unit is scoring only 15.6 points per game.
Jauron may be most remembered for a laundry list of demoralizing losses and questionable coaching decisions late in games.
Last year's meteoric plunge in the standings was punctuated by Jauron's decision to let J.P. Losman pass with the lead late against the Jets. Losman fumbled and Shaun Ellis picked it up for a game-winning touchdown. Buffalo has also suffered three straight last-minute losses on Monday Night Football to Dallas, Cleveland and New England amid a slew of second-half collapses. Jauron could never shake off an inability to finish opponents late in games, his offenses have been consistently below-average and the Bills have remained muddied in mediocrity.
Buffalo hasn't reached the postseason since 1999.
Since Marv Levy's departure in 1997, the Bills have gone through four different head coaches. Wade Phillips went 29-19, Gregg Williams went 17-31, Mike Mularkey went 14-18 and Jauron (24-33) lasted the longest of the bunch.
Jauron's career record as a head coach with Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo is 60-80.
For now, the Bills move on with Fewell.
“Perry has done a great job with our defense and has demonstrated excellent leadership skills as defensive coordinator," Wilson said in another statement. "Our players and staff have a lot of confidence in him and that is important as we look forward to these next seven games.”
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