Fairchild maintains business as usual after taking CSU job

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild watched practice on Wednesday while offering no hint he had just been hired to take over as head coach at Colorado State.

Bills players didn't find out until coach Dick Jauron announced the news in the final team huddle. Before anyone could congratulate him, Fairchild was already making his way to his office as quickly as he does after most every practice.

Fairchild takes over for his former mentor Sonny Lubick, who was let go last month. As part of the deal, Fairchild's first priority remains the Bills (7-6), who are in playoff contention and preparing for a crucial showdown at Cleveland (8-5) on Sunday.

Fairchild made that clear in a statement released by the Bills.

"We have an important game this weekend with the Cleveland Browns that requires all of my concentration," said Fairchild, who wasn't made available for interviews. "And I do appreciate CSU and the Bills for allowing me to finish out my responsibilities here in Buffalo prior to assuming my new role."

Jauron said he doesn't expect Fairchild's schedule to change dramatically in the double role. Fairchild won't likely travel for his new job until the season is over, but the Bills will allow him to recruit on the phone, gather his new staff and deal with Colorado State officials.

Jauron will wait until the end of the season before considering candidates to replace Fairchild, who is completing his second year with the team.

All that matters to rookie quarterback Trent Edwards is having Fairchild calling plays Sunday.

"I'm very happy for him," said Edwards, who will make his third consecutive start and seventh of the year. "I'm still planning on him being there, and I'm definitely going to be there, as well."

The Bills' offense can't afford any distractions to keep pace with a potent Browns attack ranked seventh in scoring. Cleveland has scored 21 or more points 11 times this season, as compared with Buffalo's attack which has done that only three times, including a 38-17 win over Miami last weekend.

The inconsistencies are blamed primarily on the unsettled state at quarterback. Incumbent J.P. Losman struggled to start the season and has now been benched twice in favor of the rookie Edwards, who is considered the team's long-term starter.

Fairchild had also been criticized for being too conservative with his play-calling to start this year.

The Bills have been better of late. They're starting to find chemistry behind Edwards, who threw four touchdowns against the Dolphins, and a two-pronged running attack made up of rookie starter Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson.

Receiver Lee Evans was pleased to learn of Fairchild's new job.

"It's obviously a big step for him in his career," Evans said. "But right now, we've got to think about this game. You've kind of got to put it on the back-burner."

Evans' big concern is what happens this offseason, and how the offense might change under yet a new coordinator, the Bills' third in four years.

"It's tough. But right now it's part of the way this league is," Evans said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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