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In final year of contract, Jauron's tenure uncertain with Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Bills coach Dick Jauron isn't showing any signs of flinching for someone who suddenly finds himself on the hot seat.

With his familiar even-keel delivery, Jauron on Wednesday acknowledged the angry boos he heard from Bills fans following the team's latest loss last weekend. In accepting the criticism directed his way, Jauron made it clear the buck for Buffalo's ongoing meltdown stops with him.

"It's part of the deal when you don't win," Jauron said. "You know when you don't win that there's going to be criticism and it's going to be deserved. So you go on. You try to improve and you try to do the things that'll make everyone happy: And that's win football games."

Jauron then blamed himself as the Bills (6-6) prepare to host Miami (7-5) at Toronto on Sunday.

"I'm where it stops. I'm the guy," he said. "The things that go wrong, I've got to get them corrected."

Time, though, is running out for a team that's lost five of six and in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for a ninth straight season. And time might also be running out on Jauron, who in February raised the bar of expectations by saying the Bills needed to take the next step following consecutive 7-9 finishes.

For someone who appeared secure in keeping his job following a 5-1 start, Jauron's tenure is suddenly uncertain as he completes the final year of his contract.

Jauron won't comment on his status, except to say, "I always feel like I'm playing for my job."

And the Bills have yet to announce anything publicly -- or discuss Jauron's status privately -- about the coach's future.

In October, Bills owner Ralph Wilson bluntly waved off questions by saying he doesn't talk contracts when asked about Jauron.

And that was well before the season turned sour.

The slide began with a 25-16 defeat at Miami on Oct. 26, the first of three consecutive losses to AFC East rivals that dropped the Bills from worst to first in the division standings. Following a 29-27 loss to Cleveland, the Bills rebounded with an emphatic 54-31 win at Kansas City. But Buffalo failed to build off that with an offensively inept performance in a 10-3 loss at home to San Francisco last weekend.

Jauron and his team were booed off the field and pelted by debris as they made their way up the tunnel.

"It's never a good feeling at all," Jauron said. "Obviously, you want to win for everybody, the fans are included in that. And when you don't, it's very disappointing."

Jauron and his staff have opened themselves to criticism. The offense has been slow to adjust to opposing defenses such as in the loss to Cleveland, when Buffalo didn't switch to the run until after Trent Edwards threw three interceptions in the first quarter.

Time management has also been an issue, with the team squandering timeouts to avoid delay-of-game penalties and when failing to have players lined up properly.

In Jauron's defense, injuries have been a factor. The Bills have three regulars on injured reserve, while Aaron Schobel, their top pass rusher, has missed seven games with a foot injury. Their starting defensive backfield has been depleted, with safety Donte Whitner and cornerbacks Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer all missing games due to injuries.

The Bills' offensive struggles can be chalked up to the growing pains that come with developing a second-year quarterback in Trent Edwards, who has been wildly inconsistent this season.

Though Lee Evans has questioned the offensive play-calling at times this season, the receiver defended Jauron.

"I don't think that it's valid," Evans said. "We respect him. We can communicate with him and we love him as a coach. I guess criticism comes all the time. But it's nothing taken serious here."

Jauron also has Whitner's support.

"He's done a great job around here. He's changed the culture around here from a losing attitude to guys believing that they can win," Whitner said. "It's up to us to get it done. I don't feel like he should take any criticism at all."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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