Buffalo Bills  

 

Jauron, Edwards could be vulnerable to Owens' strong personality

  • By Vic Carucci NFL.com
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We've heard from the man, himself. We've heard from his agent. We've heard from the owner. We've heard from the chief operating officer. We've heard from the quarterback.

All of the key characters in the story that rocked the NFL last weekend -- Terrell Owens' signing with the Buffalo Bills -- have offered public words on the matter.

All except one, that is.

Dick Jauron, the Bills' coach, has yet to comment publicly on the most dramatic acquisition the team has made since trading for Drew Bledsoe in 2002.

When Owens was introduced as the newest Bill on Saturday, club COO Russ Brandon addressed the media, as did the receiver's agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Jauron? He was in the neighborhood, certainly available, but a no-show at the podium.

Brandon has assured me and others in the media that Jauron is fully aboard with the signing. In fact, he said Jauron was among the first people he consulted before pursuing Owens and that he encouraged him to explore it. I take Brandon at his word.

Still, it is notable that Jauron has not even issued a statement, something team owner Ralph Wilson did as part of a brief press release issued Saturday and something quarterback Trent Edwards also did following the signing. Edwards also appeared before the media on Monday to talk about Owens. Even former Bills coach and general manager Marv Levy weighed in on the subject when a reporter contacted him at his home in Chicago.

My understanding after talking with a source inside the Bills organization is that Jauron's absence was somewhat strategic in the sense that the Bills did not want to invite an obvious question right from the start of what has the potential to be a wild and crazy ride: How will Owens, who has had issues dealing with some of the coaches he encountered in three previous NFL stops, and Jauron get along?

Nevertheless, the mere fact that any thought had to be given to Jauron and Owens appearing together is an early indication of what the future holds for the Bills in this extremely bold and adventuresome endeavor. With Owens around, relationships must be managed because there have been so many bad ones in his past.

Jauron's quiet, unassuming manner appears to make him vulnerable to someone as combustible as Owens. Ditto for Edwards, who is only heading for his second full season as a starter and does not have what could be characterized as an exceptionally strong personality.

Then, there is the rest of the team. Owens' history has been to divide the locker room. Generally, he finds players who support him and others, usually on the offensive side, whom he alienates. It wouldn't surprise many if troubled Bills running back Marshawn Lynch became an Owens supporter, which has the potential to be a good thing (if Owens, who has stayed on the right side of the law, can give some positive guidance) or bad (if Lynch picks up on any of Owens' divisive tendencies).

A player who should be wary of Owens' arrival is incumbent Bills No. 1 receiver Lee Evans. Based on his past, there is reason to believe Owens will demand that most of the passes be thrown his way, which means fewer would go to Evans. And if it doesn't work out that way, history suggests that Owens might very well have something to say about Edwards and could accuse Edwards and Evans of the same sort of collusion he said was going on between Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten.

However, last Friday, when Brandon exchanged text messages with Edwards and Evans about the possibility of acquiring Owens, they gave the same response: "Go get him!"

That was all Brandon needed to hear. And when he realized he could get one of the league's most prominent players for a relative bargain, a one-year contract worth $6.5 million, he concluded it would amount to a $6.5-million marketing campaign.

Brandon, whose background is in marketing, knew all too well that during the NFL's peak selling season -- the time between now and late summer -- the Bills didn't have a whole lot to sell fans who were disgruntled over a nine-year playoff drought and growing angrier by the day about Jauron's return for another season.

Owens provided an instant conversation-starter, something exciting to get fans interested again. Soon after his signing, the Bills reported brisk sales of season-ticket renewals and Owens jerseys that otherwise wouldn't have occurred.

Regardless of how the season turns out, the Bills should be able to bank every cent of Owens-generated revenue. At the same time, the relationships between Owens and his coach and quarterback figure to be vital to the chances of the season turning out well, thus making the success of his signing more than temporary.

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