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Bills owner Wilson unsure whether Jauron will be returning

  • By Associated Press
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Dick Jauron's future as coach of the Buffalo Bills will be determined in the next two weeks.

Bills owner Ralph Wilson told The Associated Press on Monday he still hasn't made up his mind about the decision, but he will use a series of end-of-season meetings with his top executives to come to a conclusion.

"The decision will be made shortly," Wilson said, referring to the yet-to-be scheduled meetings.

He said he'll seek input from chief operating officer Russ Brandon and chief scout Tom Modrak, and added that Jauron will also attend the meetings.

Speaking by phone from his home in suburban Detroit, Wilson declined to say which way he's leaning.

Wilson also declined to say whether Jauron had already agreed to or been offered a contract extension. Jauron is entering the final year of his three-year contract and is firmly on the hot seat after the Bills (7-8) lost seven of eight games prior to a 30-23 win at Denver on Sunday.

In stopping short of providing Jauron a vote of confidence, Wilson said he was impressed with how the players haven't given up on the coach.

"I don't know why he hasn't had a better record," Wilson said. "He's a heck of a good guy. And the players, I haven't seen them not play hard for him. They have played hard in the wins and the losses. I'm optimistic about our future."

Buffalo will miss the playoffs for a ninth straight year, and closes out the season hosting New England on Sunday.

Jauron has declined to discuss his future or contract status except to say he anticipates he'll be back next season.

Bills players have rallied around Jauron and dedicated their win against Denver to him.

"Everybody reads the media and knows what's going on, and we know he's under a lot of heat," linebacker Kawika Mitchell said following the game. "We wanted to win for ourselves and we really wanted to win one for him."

The Bills returned home Monday after being forced to stay in Denver following the game because of a severe snowstorm that hit Buffalo over the weekend.

Jauron's future won't be the only item up for discussion during the meetings.

Wilson is also preparing to tinker with the power structure within his front office by providing Modrak a larger voice in football decisions by adding him to what the owner called, "the inner circle."

Wilson said the decision is not a knock against Brandon, who is completing his first year as the Bills top day-to-day executive.

Wilson foresees a small committee of executives overseeing the franchise's daily operation.

"We're going to have a lot more communication between the top people," Wilson said. "One man's not going to be calling the shots."

Brandon worked his way up the ranks on the team's marketing side and led the Bills' aggressive move to become a regional franchise. He was behind the team's move in 2000 to relocate training camp to Rochester, N.Y., where the Bills secured numerous corporate sponsorships and additional season-ticket sales.

Brandon also spearheaded negotiations in securing a $78 million deal to have the Bills play five annual regular-season and three preseason games in Toronto.

Brandon, though, has been faulted for lacking a football background.

Modrak has a football background in completing his 32nd NFL season. Modrak has been the Bills' chief amateur scout since 2001, and was promoted to the title vice president of college scouting in January.

Wilson is electing to give Modrak a larger role rather than go outside the organization and hire a general manager of football operations.

The Bills haven't had an acting GM since Marv Levy stepped down at the end of last season. Wilson is also against handing one person too much power, still unhappy over the job Tom Donahoe did during his five-year tenure as team president, which ended with his dismissal following the 2005 season.

Wilson was also optimistic that the team has the opportunity to become a playoff contender next season, and is particularly high on Trent Edwards, with how the second-year quarterback rallied the Bills to beat Denver.

"He took a heck of a lot of shots in that cold weather and really played well, I thought," Wilson said. "I think we have a big future at quarterback."

In his first start after missing 10 quarters with a groin injury, Edwards went 17-of-25 for 193 yards and a touchdown in helping the Bills overcome two fourth-quarter deficits. It was the fourth time in 13 starts Edwards has engineered a fourth-quarter comeback this season.

As for the team's chances next year, Wilson said, "You hate to predict because it never comes true, but I think we have a very good chance, at least a good chance, of making the playoffs next year."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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