NFL Nation: Turk Schonert

Jags awarded Trent Edwards ahead of Jets

September, 28, 2010
9/28/10
5:34
PM ET
The Jacksonville Jaguars were awarded former Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards through waivers Tuesday afternoon.

I'm still trying to track down the complete list of teams that submitted claims for Edwards, but an NFL source confirmed the New York Jets were among them. The Jaguars had priority based on their record.

The Jaguars play the Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week 5, and I suppose it's possible Edwards could be on the field. At the very least, he'll have plenty of inside information for the scouting report.

AFC South blogger Paul Kuharksy put together an analysis of Jacksonville's quarterback situation now that Edwards is on board.

Jacksonville has been less than thrilled with Pro Bowl quarterback David Garrard. Jacksonville has scored 16 points in their past two games, both losses, with Garrard throwing one touchdown and five interceptions.

Could Edwards learn Dirk Koetter's offense in time to play against Buffalo? Some would argue Edwards never learned Buffalo's offense, but part of the reason he struggled to establish himself with the Bills was the constant turnover at offensive coordinator over the years.

When Edwards was released, he was two games into his fourth NFL season and working for his fourth offensive coordinator. Steve Fairchild gave way to Turk Schonert who gave way to Alex Van Pelt who gave way to new head coach Chan Gailey.

So Edwards has been exposed to a variety of offensive systems and terminologies. He's also a Stanford alum. A quick assimilation isn't unthinkable.

Report: Bills shopping Trent Edwards

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
11:59
AM ET
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Buffalo Bills want to trade quarterback Trent Edwards.

Schefter, citing an unnamed source, wrote the Bills have spoken to at least one other team about Edwards, who lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick after two games.

A trade would benefit all parties -- the club, the player and the fans.

The Bills have given Edwards several chances since they drafted him in the third round in 2007. It just hasn't worked out under the constraints the organization presents. Buffalo icon Jim Kelly publicly suggested last winter the Bills part ways with Edwards.

Edwards could use a change of scenery. He hasn't had much of an offensive line in Buffalo, and he has worked with myriad offensive coordinators in his four years.

Maybe the two weeks before the 2009 season opener sums up the chaotic working conditions best. The Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and replaced him with play-calling novice Alex Van Pelt 10 days before the season started. A few days later, the Bills cut their most experienced offensive lineman, tackle Langston Walker.

Lee Evans: Star cloaked in Buffalo's fog

June, 23, 2010
6/23/10
4:05
PM ET
Lee EvansLuc Leclerc/US PresswireBills wide receiver Lee Evans might be known as an elite target by now -- if he played for another team.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- When Lee Evans left the Wisconsin Badgers six years ago, he expected to be well on his way to establishing himself as one of the NFL's elite receivers by now.

He was supposed to have made a few Pro Bowls, earned a couple All-Pro selections, burned defenders so frequently the Buffalo Bills couldn't help but field a playoff-caliber offense.

The Bills obviously agreed with that projection when they drafted him 13th overall in 2004 and four years later, awarded him a contract extension that made Evans one of the league's richest receivers.

Little has come to fruition. Evans has zero Pro Bowls, two 1,000-yard seasons and one season with more than 63 catches.

Evans is entering his seventh season. While he's respected around the league for his speed, hands and character, he still hasn't emerged as a star.

"Absolutely, I have something to prove," Evans told me after Wednesday's early practice to open Buffalo's mandatory minicamp. "The reality of it is, I haven't done anything yet."

Neither have the Bills. That's the primary reason Evans hasn't broken out.

Since he joined the Bills, they've failed to reach the playoffs. They've had one winning season, when he was a rookie. Their cumulative record with Evans on the roster is 41-55. They're on their fourth head coach and umpteenth offensive coordinator.

In Evans' six seasons, Buffalo's offense has ranked 25th, 28th, 30th, 30th, 25th and 30th.

Evans has had four starting quarterbacks -- Trent Edwards, J.P. Losman, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm -- over the past two seasons and doesn't know who'll be throwing to him in 2010.

"Like Steve Smith with the Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson, Evans is right at the top of my list of guys who I would love to see on another team," Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson said. "I think he could be a monster and perennial Pro Bowler in a much better situation."

Evans won't say it, but regardless of how you choose to measure success -- winning games or personal statistics -- he essentially has squandered the first six years of his career. He turned 29 in March.

"Not being able to win or make it to the playoffs, you don't really get the recognition a lot of players get and that they deserve," Evans said. "That's the goal here. If we can win and make it to the postseason, recognition will come."

Evans posted one stat line commensurate with his talents. In 2006, with Losman taking downfield chances, Evans caught 82 passes for 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns.

The past three seasons, however, Evans' numbers have been limited. It's not the best situation for a deep threat when his quarterback is known as Captain Checkdown, the nickname bestowed on Edwards last year.

"He has to rely on downfield plays to really make a huge impact," Williamson said. "Buffalo's opponents know they can't protect and that their signal caller was, well, bashful about letting it fly deep. That eliminates the most threatening aspect of Evans' game, which is criminal."

Evans is a respected player in the locker room and among Bills fans. But he's just sort of there -- a vague protagonist. On a team with so many problems, there's no reason to worry about Evans.

Since the Bills hired head coach Chan Gailey in January, he has been asked almost every imaginable question. Yet in a search of Gailey's many transcripts, Evans' name doesn't appear once, peculiar for a team's most talented offensive player.

Evans was supposed to have his breakout campaign last year, but is coming off what he called the most frustrating season of his life.

"How do you explain last year?" he chuckled, repeating the question asked. "I can probably write a book about last year."

The Bills brought in future Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens. Part of the reasoning was Owens' presence would stop defenses from doubling up on Evans for the first time since Eric Moulds left the Bills. That was Evans' sophomore season.

Evans and Owens each had one of their worst seasons. Evans caught a career-low 44 passes for a career-low 612 yards and seven touchdowns.

Evans blames a series of problems outside the players' control. The organization mishandled two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, trading him to the Philadelphia Eagles. Ten days before the season opener, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and replaced him with novice Alex Van Pelt. Then they released their most experienced offensive lineman, Langston Walker, who had been moved from right tackle to left tackle.

Evans said it "started with the Peters thing," but called Walker's release the biggest stunner of them all. As Evans relived everything that went wrong even before the team was decimated by injuries and finally axed head coach Dick Jauron in November, an incredulous look came over his face.

"There was a lot of turmoil amongst coaches, amongst coaches and players, amongst scheme," Evans said. "We were fighting an uphill battle against ourselves, really. That's what really made it tough, especially early on.

"The bottom line is, I don't think everybody had bought in to what we were trying to do. That makes it tough. When you have that coupled with a ton of injuries, that's what you get."

Evans didn't elaborate, but he said Schonert's firing "wasn't as big of a shock" as Walker's release.

"But it still takes its toll," Evans said. "This is the guy who had been calling the plays here all last year, all through camp, all through the preseason. Now you've got another guy coming in who has coached a while but has never been a coordinator on this level. Now you have to figure out what he wants to accomplish.

"Now it's 'Who are we?' It was tough."

Nobody would blame Evans for running out of patience with the Bills. He has given some prime years to a dysfunctional organization. The Bills have paid him well, but so would another team that has a better chance of winning.

As the Bills are experiencing with two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel, perpetual losing is tough to endure. Schobel is leaning toward retiring at 32 and with serious money on the table rather than return to the Bills.

Evans still has three years left on his contract, but another year without any signs of progress might cause him and the Bills to part ways.

"Chan has us excited," Evans said. "If you lose optimism and trust, you probably won't play well on Sundays. There's always a belief that we're going to win. That's what can carry you through tough times.

"This year, just looking at it on paper, I don't expect it to be anything like last year. It has to be better. It has to be."

Owens' time in Buffalo served its purpose

March, 1, 2010
3/01/10
4:59
PM ET
AP Photo/Don HeupelHe came, he played, it snowed and now Terrell Owens is leaving Buffalo after one year.
The Buffalo Bills have higher standards than VH-1.

Despite abysmal ratings, the cable network renewed "The T.O. Show" for a second season in 2010.

The Bills weren't so inspired. Their reality show simply wasn't compelling enough to bring Owens back. A whirlwind affair is over after one year.

Saturday night the Bills publicly disassociated themselves with Owens, receiver Josh Reed and defensive end Ryan Denney. In a news release, Bills general manager Buddy Nix said the team would not offer them contracts and allow them to become unrestricted free agents Friday.

You won't find any outrage in Buffalo that Owens won't be wearing a Bills uniform this year. Bills fans didn't come to loathe him at all, but somehow a polarizing figure came to town and engendered shoulder shrugs and vague feelings of meh.

Before it reached that level of apathy, the one-year relationship was a marketing success.

Owens and the Bills used each other. They were a perfect fit, a team desperate to capture their disenfranchised fans' imaginations and a character in need of an image makeover.

Owens came to Buffalo because it was the only place that would take him, and he knew he needed to seize the opportunity to cleanse himself, to show the rest of the NFL he could be in a locker room without detonating its chemistry.

He's a future Hall of Famer who should've generated more attention than he did when the Dallas Cowboys cut him. Perhaps that was a wake-up call. He couldn't afford to depart Buffalo with another quarterback controversy similar to the ones he left behind in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas.

His mission: Show up, play football, be a good soldier and hope the football community notices he served his time with good behavior.

The Bills, meanwhile, needed something -- anything -- to stimulate their followers. The fans were disgusted with how 2008 ended. They started the season 5-1, then collapsed, failing to reach the playoffs a ninth straight season. Head coach Dick Jauron not only was retained, but the club insulted anyone paying attention by refusing to acknowledge what was known, that they'd given him a contract extension before the implosion.

So intense was the furor in Buffalo that some wondered if Bills owner Ralph Wilson would get booed during his induction speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Owens was identified as the solution. He sold tickets. He sold jerseys. The mere fact the Bills would make such an organizationally deviant acquisition put fans in a euphoric state.

Owens arrived with the type of fanfare Buffalo will look back upon with at least a little embarrassment.

AP Photo/David DupreyThere was a lot of fanfare for Owens in Buffalo, including a key to the city presentation.
He touched down at Buffalo Niagara International Airport to find cheerleaders, chanters and other assorted zealots certain he was the savior. One fan dressed up as a popcorn box, a reference to his showstopper promise to "Get your popcorn ready."

The moment was staged for his VH-1 show, but the feelings expressed were genuine. Bills fans were smitten, drunk in love with a personality who might make their team relevant again. The next day, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown presented him with a key to the city, an honor Wilson has never received.

Pageantry pretty much was all Owens brought to Buffalo, and the front office acted as though that's what it was most interested in anyway.

Whatever daring the Bills showed in signing Owens was offset by their inept evaluation of personnel. They traded Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert 10 days before the regular-season opener and released right tackle Langston Walker and running back Dominic Rhodes.

After the season began, they scrapped the no-huddle offense they'd spent the entire offseason installing, fired Jauron and revoked Trent Edwards' job as starting quarterback.

Not even counting the new Bills regime, Owens played under two head coaches and two offensive coordinators and with three starting quarterbacks -- in the span of nine months.

The Bills sold out every home game with his help. And while Owens showed flashes with little teammate support, he rarely made enough of an impact on the field.

He posted his lowest receptions-per-game average since his rookie campaign with San Francisco in 1996. He finished with 55 catches for 829 yards and five touchdowns.

The theory was that if Owens didn't have a big year, his presence would allow underrated receiver Lee Evans to excel on the other side of the field. Evans had 44 catches for 612 yards (both career-lows) and seven touchdowns. Evans' career average entering last season was 6.4 touchdowns.

In Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints, Owens' receptions streak ended at 185 games. It seemed like an appropriate time for Owens to lash out against the Bills, new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt or Edwards, who'd become known locally as Captain Checkdown.

But Owens admirably held himself together and set a media tone for the rest of the season. He was disappointingly uninteresting, but he kept his nose clean. He was adamant about remaining as bland and politically correct as possible. It was part of his cleansing, after all.

Owens' employment options will be limited. He'll turn 37 before the next season is over.

But the way he carried himself in Buffalo and the excuses he'll have at the ready -- thanks to Buffalo's dysfunction and hindrances outside his control such as a slew of injuries on the offensive line -- might give him more possibilities if he's willing to play for a discount.

From the Bills' standpoint, they extracted all they could from Owens' aura. Besides, they cleared the way for younger receivers.

James Hardy, a second-round draft choice in 2008, has only three receptions. He missed almost all of last season while coming back from a knee injury, but he's ready to go. The Bills think highly of Steve Johnson, a seventh-round pick who has been lost in the shuffle.

For Owens, it's time to move on.

The Bills got what they wanted. So did he.

The only ones left unfulfilled were the fans, their excitement turned to yawns.

Bills fire entire coaching staff

January, 4, 2010
1/04/10
12:30
PM ET
Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix said at his introductory news conference Thursday he wanted a coach who could build a staff, and the new hire apparently will have to do it from scratch.

The Bills resumed heavy internal renovations Monday by firing their entire coaching staff a day after completing a 6-10 season, their 10th straight without the playoffs.

The story was broken by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and confirmed by Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan, who noted all of the coaches had one year remaining on their contracts.

The Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert 10 days before the season opener and head coach Dick Jauron after a Week 10 loss. They named defensive coordinator Perry Fewell interim head coach.

Nix on Thursday said Fewell would be interviewed for the head-coaching vacancy. Other assistants could be re-hired.

Here is a rundown of the coaches who finished the year with the Bills:

  • Bobby April, assistant head coach/special teams coordinator
  • Alex Van Pelt, offensive coordinator
  • Eric Studesville, running game coordinator/running backs
  • Ray Brown, assistant offensive line
  • George Catavolos, defensive backs
  • Charlie Coiner, tight ends
  • DeMontie Cross assistant linebackers/special teams
  • Nathaniel Hackett, offensive quality control
  • Sean Kugler, offensive line
  • Chuck Lester, assistant to the head coach/special projects
  • Bob Sanders, defensive line
  • Matt Sheldon, linebackers
  • Tyke Tolbert, wide receivers
  • Adrian White, defensive quality control
  • John Allaire, strength and conditioning
video

Bills finally fire Jauron

November, 17, 2009
11/17/09
3:23
PM ET
The Buffalo Bills finally have fired Dick Jauron.

The only surprising aspect of the decision is that it happened now. Those who follow the team closely assumed that if the Bills hadn't fired Jauron by now that he would last the rest of the season.
[+] EnlargeDick Jauron
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesDick Jauron was 24-33 since being hired by former general manager Marv Levy in 2006.

“I am announcing today that I am relieving Dick Jauron from his duties as our head coach, effective immediately," Bills owner Ralph Wilson said in a statement released by the club. "I have tremendous respect for Dick and thank him for all of his efforts during these past four years. While this was a very difficult decision, I felt that it is one that needed to be made at this time for the best interest of our team. We will now focus on moving forward and preparing for our game this week in Jacksonville.”

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is expected to take over as interim coach. Fewell's defense has been pedestrian at best. It ranks 26th in total defense and dead last in run defense.

The Bills have bumbled their way to a 3-6 record, last place in the AFC East. They will miss the playoffs for the 10th straight season.

The move came one day after Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel called the Bills' situation "embarrassing. I mean, we’re technically, mathematically still in [the playoff race], I guess, but it's like what ... are we doing here?

"That’s about all I can say without saying what I want to say."

The Bills went 7-9 in each of their previous three seasons under Jauron.

Jauron and the front office have committed a series of missteps. They fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert 10 days before their season opener. Terrell Owens is on his way to having the least productive season of his career, making his addition little more than a publicity stunt.

They're no closer to knowing who their quarterback is. Trent Edwards appeared to be the clear-cut starter but may have lost the job to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

They misjudged their talent on the offensive line, thinking they were fine at tackle after trading two-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters and moving veteran Langston Walker from the right to the left. Walker didn't make the 53-man roster.

Buffalo signed Jauron to a three-year contract extension after a hot 5-1 start last year. The Bills won only two of their final 10 games and didn’t make the playoffs.

video

Midseason Report: Bills

November, 11, 2009
11/11/09
12:23
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Power Rankings: Preseason: 21. This week: 24.

2009 Schedule/Results

Kevin Hoffman/US Presswire
Terrell Owens has just 23 receptions in eight games this season.
Where they stand: The Bills are 3-5 and tied for last place in the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins -- but not in the same class. The Bills would need to darn near run the table and then hope for help along the way to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and that's not happening. Their offense is anemic, with a line that was weak from the start and has been decimated by injuries. They have the worst run defense in the NFL, and esteemed special-teams coach Bobby April's units are playing well below what we're used to seeing.

Disappointments: When kick returner Leodis McKelvin fumbled away a near-certain victory over the New England Patriots on opening night, it was a harbinger of the season. Bills fans were borderline euphoric over the possibilities of an offense with receivers Terrell Owens and Lee Evans and a potent backfield with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. Third-year quarterback Trent Edwards could have been looking at a breakout campaign with those weapons and a new no-huddle offense. The Bills woefully underestimated their talent on the line. The first string failed to score a touchdown in five preseason games. The Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert 10 days before the season opener, have Owens on pace for his worst season since he was a rookie and scrapped the no-huddle.

Surprises: The biggest surprise is that head coach Dick Jauron still has a job, but the spirit of this category is to recognize pleasant developments. There haven't been many, but rookie safety Jairus Byrd has been awesome. The second-round draft choice from Oregon has seven interceptions, tying him with defensive player of the year candidate Darren Sharper for the league high. Buffalo's secondary as a whole has played well, especially considering three-fourths of the original starting quartet has been sidelined. McKelvin is out for the season and safeties Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott have missed several games.

Outlook: After 10 years of not making the playoffs, the organization should have completed the rebuilding phase from its last postseason game, which ended with the Music City Miracle. Many teams have rebuilt, imploded and rebuilt again in that span. But the Bills likely are facing an offseason of further transition. In addition to Jauron's job being in jeopardy, the Bills still don't have a reliable quarterback -- a veteran or a viable understudy -- on the roster. With word they're considering Michael Vick, one has to wonder if the Bills have any organizational plan whatsoever or if they're content to wing it year after year.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- This was supposed to be Trent Edwards' big no-excuses season.

He purportedly had all the materials he would need. Three years into his NFL career, we were going to find out whether he deserved to be considered the Buffalo Bills' quarterback of the future.
George Gojkovich/Getty Images
Trent Edwards has a lot to adjust to this season: a new left tackle, new offensive coordinator and new offensive scheme to run.

That was the sentiment a month ago, maybe even a couple of weeks ago.

Not anymore.

Edwards heads into 2009 with less support than he's ever had. If Edwards were to fall flat on his facemask this year, we still wouldn't know with any reasonable degree of certainty what he's capable of and whether he should be the man in 2010.

Within 10 days of the season opener, the Bills have made decisions that dim Edwards' chances of success.

Edwards, to his credit, isn't looking for excuses. It sounds like he still believes the Bills' offense depends mainly on him.

"I think that the position I am in -- with two years under my belt, with a lot of say in the way this offense goes -- a lot of the reason this offense is going to be where it needs to be is because of me," Edwards said. "I think that's a great opportunity for me."

About the only way we will discover anything new about Edwards is if he puts the team on his back and leads them to the playoffs.

Anything less can be justified by the circumstances the Bills' front office and coaching staff created.

(Read full post)


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Let me first state that I wasn't there.

Well, I was in the same building as Terrell Owens on Wednesday afternoon.
 
 Joe Robbins/Getty Images
 Terrell Owens' comments about the Bills' no-huddle offense shouldn't be taken too seriously.

But I wasn't in Foxborough, Mass., where New England Patriots reporters were listening to Owens on a conference call to preview Monday night's season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Owens was in a playful mood when he took a jab at the Patriots, saying there was "nothing up my sleeve. I might bring my spy camera," and delivering a self-effacing joke that's being misconstrued as criticism of Buffalo's offense.

Owens was asked if he liked Buffalo's no-huddle approach.

"No, not really," Owens replied. "But I got to deal with it."

Then Owens laughed and explained the up-tempo style can be tough on a receiver. Plus, he missed four of Buffalo's five preseason games because of a sprained toe.

But folks are acting like this is the first sign of a pending Owens blowup.

Observers have been wondering when T.O. was going to become a headache. He still might at some point, but I can confidently say this wasn't it.

"No, it’s all right," Owens said of the no-huddle. "It just gets you a little winded. For myself, I haven't really practiced much the last few preseason games. So I’m still trying to get myself into shape, and that’s coming around.

"We're doing some things in the offense that will help me get in shape a little bit faster than I need to, especially with the upcoming Monday night game. You know, that's part of our offense, and we're looking forward to it.

"I've gotten a taste of it since the OTAs, and I know what to expect. That's sometimes a plus for the offense, especially if we can kind of wear guys down and keep them on the field and don't allow them to make substitutions. It's something we’re looking forward to, and we're going to try it out."

The Bills' offense has been under the microscope all summer. Their decision to go sans huddle excited the fans and conjured memories of Jim Kelly running the K-Gun in the 1990s.

But the Bills' first-stringers no-huddled their way to zero touchdowns and one field goal on 16 preseason possessions. The Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert on Friday.

Owens tweeted at the time that he ran Schonert off because he wasn't getting the ball through to him enough in the preseason -- even though Owens played only one series.

"Well, I’m no stranger to surprise," Owens said of the coordinator switch to Alex Van Pelt. "I got the biggest surprise that anybody could imagine [when the Dallas Cowboys released him] in March, so that was nothing.

"It was just one of those things. It's part of the business, and you kind of deal with the shock initially, and you let it wear off and you keep moving."

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Turk Schonert doesn't sound too broken up over not having to work for Buffalo Bills head coach Dick Jauron anymore.

Schonert, fired Friday morning as Bills offensive coordinator, told Buffalo's CBS affiliate he and Jauron had serious philosophical differences.

"He told me the offense wasn't simple enough for him," Schonert told WIVB. "We had too many formations, too many plays. I didn't simplify it to his liking.

"He wants a Pop Warner offense. He limited me in formations and limited me in plays. He's been on my back all offseason."

The Bills' first-team offense failed to score a touchdown throughout the preseason and no unit scored a touchdown in the last two games. Jauron waited until a day after their final exhibition -- 10 days before the season opener against the New England Patriots -- to fire Schonert.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports Bills owner Ralph Wilson summoned Jauron, new play-caller Alex Van Pelt, running game coordinator Eric Studesville and chief operating officer Russ Brandon to his Michigan home for a meeting to discuss the team's direction.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Coach Dick Jauron was not pleased with how the offense was preparing and progressing.

Less than two weeks before the regular season, three NFL clubs were desperate enough to fire their offensive coordinators.

"It's alarming that in this league it's getting to where people are feeling pressure even after the preseason," former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel said. "You're kind of going 'Wow. This season is going to be one wild ride.' "

ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Herm Edwards said knows how anxious struggling teams can get, but said "You've never seen it like this."

The Buffalo Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert on Friday, 10 days before opening their season against the New England Patriots on "Monday Night Football."

Four days ago, the Kansas City Chiefs fired their offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Jeff Jagodzinski on Thursday.

"Somebody does it," Fassel said, "and then you might think 'Hell, our offense isn't doing anything either. They did something about it. Why don't we?' Hopefully, that's not a trend."

Dick Jauron replaced Schonert with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt after the first-team offense failed to score a touchdown on any of its 16 preseason possessions.

Third-year quarterback Trent Edwards seemed to be wasting his time in exhibitions. Jauron admitted Thursday night Edwards wasn't prepared for them.

"I just didn't feel we were progressing, and I didn't get the sense that we were going to move forward," Jauron said.

Unlike the situations in Kansas City or Tampa Bay, the decision to remove Schonert wasn't made by a rookie head coach who wanted to get rid of a coordinator he hadn't worked with before.

Jauron is entering his ninth season as an NFL head coach. When he took over the Bills in 2006, he hired Schonert to be his quarterbacks coach. Jauron elevated him to offensive coordinator last year, giving Jauron plenty of background information to formulate an opinion on Schonert months before training camp.

Then, the day before teams must trim their rosters down to 53 players, the Turk came calling for Schonert: Bring your playbook. You know, the one you put together for us.

"As head coach, your job is to get your staff right," Fassel said. "That's a major, major, major, major, major blowup."

Like a doctor being asked to explain the diagnosis of someone who's not his patient, Fassel declined to speak specifically about Schonert's dismissal.

But Fassel did offer general opinions about the decision to fire a coordinator so close to the start of a season.

"There's a belief when moves like this happen that the guy walks out of the building with all of their ills and problems," Fassel said. "But when you fire a guy that quick, that means you made a huge mistake of hiring him.

"The biggest thing for a head coach is to get the right guys in the right spots. You have to look at yourself as a coach and say 'I made a bad decision. This one is on me big-time.' That sometimes escapes the story: Wait a minute! Who hired you? Who set this up?

"That's a major faux pas."

Fassel coached the Giants for seven years, guiding them to the playoffs three times and the NFC championship in 2000. He now coaches the United Football League franchise in Las Vegas. His quarterback will be Trent Edwards' former backup, J.P. Losman.

Fassel added, however, a dramatic coordinator switch could have positive impact on a team.

"Sometimes it will give you a lift," Fassel said. "At the end of the day, we're only human. It's possible this could get everybody to come together when they were looking for somebody to blame. Sometimes it scares the players, who think 'I might be the next one to go.'

"A move like this has a tendency to wake everybody up, get out the smelling salts and 'Hey, we better wake up here.' "

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron just met with reporters at the team's facility to discuss why he decided to fire offensive coordinator Turk Schonert 10 days before the season opener against the New England Patriots on "Monday Night Football."

Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt will take over. Running game coordinator Eric Studesville will remain in his role.

Jauron spoke for less than seven minutes and didn't get into any great detail, but here are a few bullet points:
  • He came to the conclusion Schonert had to be replaced Friday morning and phoned owner Ralph Wilson, who gave his blessing.

"I informed him of my wish, and he said it was my call," Jauron said. "I made it."

  • Jauron said he didn't seek feedback from the players before making the change.
  • He thinks the switch will work because the terminology remains the same but Van Pelt will place a different emphasis on certain elements.

"It's not like we're changing schemes," Jauron said. "We're maybe changing focus, but we're not adding new things. They're used to the terminology. Everybody's on the same page.

"Hopefully, it'll provide a jolt forward and move us on."

  • He remains committed to the no-huddle offense.
  • Jauron on Bills first-team offense failing to score a touchdown in the preseason: "Just the lack of productivity, the direction we were moving. I just didn't feel like it was going, certainly, were I envisioned it going. There's clearly a lot of fault. It's not just Turk, and I accept my share of that."
  • Jauron later said he envisioned his offense to be "more attacking."

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills saw two other teams do it and figured it was time for them to follow suit.

Two league sources tell me the Bills have informed their players they've fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert. They are expected to replace him with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, but running game coordinator Eric Studesville could have a greater say in how the offense operates.

Schonert oversaw an offense that sputtered throughout the preseason and couldn't score a touchdown in the last two exhibitions. The first-team didn't score a touchdown at all, failing to reach the end zone on 16 possessions (nine punts, three interceptions, two fumbles, one field goal and halftime). The Bills' first unit ran 78 plays for 269 net yards.

Van Pelt has no offensive coordinator experience -- in a traditional sense -- at any level. The former Bills quarterback was passing game coordinator for the University at Buffalo in 2006 before joining Dick Jauron's staff.

The moves comes one day after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and three days after the Kansas City Chiefs fired their offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey.

Former Dallas Cowboys personnel director and NFL.com raconteur Gil Brandt, quoted in Friday morning's edition of USA Today, said "Two moves like that, with the season almost here, I'd say it's unprecedented."

Make it three.

The Bills have scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference with Jauron at the team's facility. I will report more from there.video
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Some sports fans snicker when they hear that a player has been sidelined with a toe injury.

He can't play because one of his piggies has an owie! What a wimp!

Truth of the matter is, toe problems -- like the one keeping Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens out of his second straight preseason game Saturday -- can be serious.

"It can end your career," ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell said.

A bum toe ended Hall of Fame intimidator Jack Lambert's career at 32. He had been named All-Pro five straight seasons when he got hurt. Toe injuries also have shelved such stars as Deion Sanders, Eddie George, Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson.

 
  Icon SMI
  Terrell Owens' toe injury may be no laughing matter for the Bills.
Owens aggravated his toe during the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 9 and hasn't taken part in a full practice since. He lightly worked out for about 20 minutes Monday but informed the team it was uncomfortable to stand.

"He runs a lot," Bills offensive coordinator Turk Schonert said Thursday. "He has to make cuts on that thing, sharp cuts.

"For a lineman, working in short space, it's not going to be as much of a problem. But a receiver or a running back, you've got to make jump cuts and sharp cuts. It's a huge injury."

Owens has been hampered by toe problems in the past.

Turf toe bothered Owens in 2000 with the San Francisco 49ers. He missed one game and couldn't start in another. He was 26 years old then. He's 35 now.

"If it's the same toe," Bell said, "that, to me, makes the picture a little more grim."

Bell, a physical therapist who specializes in athletes and performing artists, explained why an itty-bitty digit can practically immobilize an athletic specimen.

"When your body weight is moving forward, there is a point in time when basically all of your body weight is concentrated over that main joint," Bell said. "If you could do a still frame of a guy running, and you got him right at push-off, you'd see the majority of the body weight is through that big toe.

"You have body weight connecting with the ground. You've got force going through a very tiny surface area of a couple centimeters. That's what places so much stress on the joint."

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The way Jim Kelly sees it, a lot of folks in the Buffalo Bills organization will be seeking employment in 2010 if they don't win this season.

When asked his thoughts on how the Bills are coming together, the Hall of Fame quarterback was optimistic to a point.

"It might take a little time. Unfortunately for the Buffalo Bills and that coaching staff, they don't have time," Kelly said Thursday morning on Buffalo radio station WGR. "They've got to win and they've got to win now. I know the pressure's on because if they don't win now they're all going to find themselves looking for a job next year.

"The pressure's on the coaching staff. The pressure's on the players because we need a winner, and we need it now. We can't wait two more years. We've got to do it now."

Kelly, who quarterbacked the Bills to four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s, cited his chief concerns are the patchwork offensive line and the defense's run-stopping ability.

But Kelly's most passionate opinions -- for obvious reasons -- dealt with quarterback Trent Edwards and offensive coordinator Turk Schonert.

"A big part of this offense is the play calling," Kelly said. "Put Trent Edwards in situations where you're not always saying, 'What was that?' There's pressure on Turk Schonert, our offensive coordinator. Do I think he can do it? Yeah. But we need to do it.

"You need to put Trent in good situations where you have a good play called. You can't run on first down all the time. You've got to mix it up. With this so-called no-huddle offense -- it's definitely a lot slower than we used to run it -- I think a lot of pressure is on Turk to get that right play called."

Kelly wasn't all that impressed with Edwards' 10-for-10 performance in Saturday's preseason victory over the Chicago Bears, but saw reasons to be confident in the third-year pro.

With receiver Terrell Owens out because of a sprained toe, Edwards threw for 79 yards. Aside from Edwards' first completion going for 36 yards, he didn't have a gain of double-digit yardage.

"The biggest question for him is getting the timing down, getting rid of the ball when he has to," Kelly said. "I watched and thought, to be honest with you, he dumped the ball off a couple times too soon. I thought he was looking to his outlet a little too early.

"As time goes on, he's going to have to get used to holding onto it a little bit longer. The biggest key for the Buffalo Bills is the offensive line, giving Trent the time to go through his progressions because he's not going to live on dinking and dunking. I guarantee it."

Kelly's running back and fellow Hall of Famer, Thurman Thomas, added: "If you're going to be dinking and dunking, get 10 yards. Don't get 2. We used to all the time dink and dunk and it would go for 15 yards. Theirs are going for like 3 and 4. That's not going to get it."

Kelly and Thomas made lengthy visits on WGR as part of its Hunter's Hope Radiothon. Kelly established the Hunter's Hope Foundation in name of his son, who died from complications of Krabbe's Disease in 2005.

WGR's Radiothon is Thursday and Friday in an effort to raise funds and awareness for universal newborn screening.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Roster Advisor