Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Time for some Cowher Power in Buffalo

Enough already.

If I’m Bills owner Ralph Wilson, I pull the plug on Dick Jauron now. I put fiery special teams coach Bobby April in as interim head coach and immediately begin negotiations with Bill Cowher. And, yes, I prepare to turn over a king’s ransom and complete control of football operations because if I do otherwise neither Cowher nor Mike Shanahan nor Jon Gruden nor any other big-name coach will be coming to Orchard Park and the Bills will continue to be stuck in this quagmire of mediocrity that has stymied them for nearly a decade.

Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.

This has nothing to do with Jauron the person. He’s an honorable guy and the players love him. But this is a hyper-competitive, just-win-baby business and Jauron’s body of work (one winning season in 8 seasons and change with two different teams) is proof positive that he doesn’t have what it takes to be an NFL head coach.

Jauron’s conservative approach doesn’t cut it any more in a league where offenses and defenses are constantly on the attack. Football teams do, in fact, assume the personalities of their coaches, which may explain Trent Edwards’ penchant for checking down and playing it safe too often instead of taking the chances the really good quarterbacks take.

I called for this change after Buffalo suffered through its third consecutive 7-9 campaign in ‘08. But the Bills had painted themselves into a corner by jumping the gun after their 5-1 start and signing Jauron to a 3-year extension. It was a panic move because they foolishly believed if they made the playoffs NFL teams would be lining up in droves to sign the guy.

Well, you get what you pay for. And what Buffalo has is a coach with a 22-30 record heading into Sunday’s game against the winless Cleveland Browns.

Ralph doesn’t have a history of firing coaches in-season. In fact, the last time he made an in-sseason change was 22 years ago when he replaced Hank Bullough with Marv Levy. He lucked out on that one. But the time for “hoping’ some guy works out is over. Bills fans have suffered long enough. They’ve supported this team despite a stretch that has seen them post just one winning season this decade. And should they fail to make the playoffs this year (a likely scenario) it will mark the first time in the franchise’s half-century existence they went an entire decade without making the postseason.

The one time Ralph did spend big, big bucks for a highly sought-after coach was in 1978 when he signed Chuck Knox, who was coming off five consecutive divisional titles with the Los Angeles Rams. That’s what he needs to do now.

Something bold.

It will take more than an armor-car-full of greenbacks to secure Cowher, who helped make the Pittsburgh Steelers into Super Bowl champions and perennial playoff participants. He’ll demand to bring in his own personnel people (see you later, Tom Modrak and John Guy). And he’ll demand a commitment from Ralph to sign the players he’ll need to in order to change the Bills culture of losing.

Ralph told me on several occasions through the years that one of the keys to his success as an entrepreneur was his willingness to take calculated risks. He always said he liked going for it on fourth down. Well, it’s fourth-and-long, and he needs a big catch right now, and that catch’s name is Bill Cowher.


Anonymous said...

I agree! Almost any change would be a good one...they need to have lots more fire and passion!! When you cannot get the ball to your recievers and you don't have the game plan ...well the results are in plain sight!! The fish now eat buffalo!!!

Anonymous said...

Great article Scott, sending this one along!


Andrew said...

I would love to see Bil Cowher on the Buffalo sidelines...he's got that personality you speak of that the Bills need. I think Cowher has been waiting out that Carolina job so not sure Buffalo has a shot. Regardless, they need to find out.

If they can't get Cowher - go hard after Gruden.

And please oh please, throw the ball down the field. PLEASE

Anonymous said...

While very exciting to speculate, Ralph felt burned after unsuccessfully turning over the keys to Donahoe. Do you really see him doing it again?
His calculated risks now probably involve tapioca instead of jello.

Anonymous said...

It's always a mystery to me why the salary of the head coach is an issue, assuming he's not looking for Ben Roethlisberger or Eli Manning money. Top coaches salaries are rarely above $5,000,000/year. The Bills don't seem to have any trouble pissing it away on a has-been receiver like T.O., or never-was players like Losman, Rob Johnson, Mike Williams, etc. My contention has always been that if a $5,000,000 a year coach can get top-level production out of their second tier players, making higher paid prima-donnas expendable, he's more than earned his keep. Terrell Owens is making twice that of Mike Smith, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, and several other current successful NFL coaches. Hey Ralph -Replace T.O. next year and you'll have covered your head coach wages for 2 or 3 years and probably get more W's.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of the Rooney Rule? The Bills cannot begin negotiating with Bill Cowher until after they have interviewed a minority candidate or 2. That means after the season for all intents & purposes. The NFL would slap the Bills pretty hard-loss of draft choices, fines or just voiding the contract, if they followed your recommendation.
If the Bills want Cowher, or any other big name coach who isn't Tony Dungy, the best they can do is fire Jauron now, install a head coach for the rest of the season, and after the season ends, interview some minority candidates & Mr. Big Name and then choose the best candidate. Until those other interviews are done, negotiations with Cowher or anyone else can't begin.
In the past the NFL voided a clause in Jim Haslett's contract last year saying he'd keep the Rams job with a certain number of wins & slapped the Lions for hiring Mariucci without considering minority candidates.