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Bills fire Jauron; Fewell promoted

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Associated Press
November 18, 2009
— Perry Fewell shared a simple but blunt philosophy in taking over as the Buffalo Bills interim head coach after Dick Jauron was abruptly fired on Tuesday.

“Play like hell and win,” Fewell said.


That’s the plan and also the challenge for Fewell, following the defensive coordinator’s promotion. He has seven games left in the season to prove that he’s capable of turning around a struggling team and a franchise that’s now on its fifth coach in nine years and in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for a 10th straight season.


It starts on Sunday, when the Bills (3-6) travel to play at Jacksonville.


Fewell then showed he’s smart enough to not make any guarantees, when asked to assess how much he can do to fix an offense that’s sputtered for most of the season despite the presence of Terrell Owens.


“We are who we are,” Fewell said, adding he’ll wait until today to announce whether quarterback Trent Edwards or backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will start this weekend. “We have that identity. We’re going to try to give a little spark, but we are who we are.”


Bills owner Ralph Wilson prompted the shakeup, which caught Fewell and several players by surprise. The move came during the players’ day off and after Buffalo stumbled out of its bye week to fall further out of contention with a 41-17 loss at Tennessee last weekend.


Wilson described his decision to change coaches as a difficult one, but one “for the best interest of our team.”


“I really don’t have anything to say,” was all Jauron would say when reached on his cell phone by The Associated Press.


In electing to promote Fewell, Wilson credited the assistant for having done “a great job with our defense and demonstrated excellent leadership skills,” while noting the players and staff have confidence in him.


Fewell is in his 12th NFL season, and fourth with Buffalo as the team’s defensive coordinator, after being hired by Jauron, whose background is primarily on the defensive side. Fewell also becomes the team’s first black head coach.


Fewell declined to discuss whether he’s been given an opportunity to keep the job beyond this season, but called his promotion “the opportunity of a lifetime.”


Jauron has been on the hot seat ever since last season, after he led the Bills to their third consecutive 7-9 finish.


Johnson, Bengals agree


Larry Johnson might have his career up-and-running sooner than expected.


The running back who was banished from Kansas City for bad behavior signed on for a backup role with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday, giving the AFC North leaders depth for the rest of this season. He might not be watching for long.


A day after coach Marvin Lewis referred to Johnson as an insurance policy in case of injury, he said it’s possible the running back could play in some form Sunday in Oakland if starter Cedric Benson is still limited by a strained hip.


“I’m not saying that it can’t happen, I’m not saying that it will happen, but stay tuned,” Lewis said, with Johnson sitting by his side. “He’d like to play, I know that. And we’ll see what happens as we go through the week, as I said earlier, regarding Cedric with his injury.”


Johnson has his own goal for getting on the field: Dec. 27, when the Bengals play the Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium. That could set up the second get-even game for a Bengals running back this season. Benson was carrying a grudge when he ran for a career-high 189 yards against his former Bears team on Oct. 25.


Johnson is toting one, too.


“I’d be lying if I said I ain’t looking at that game as a game I want to definitely play in, but we take it a game at a time, one situation at a time,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to get on the field as of right now. If that happens, it’d be the best Christmas gift I can get.”


The Bengals waived defensive tackle Orien Harris to open a roster spot for Johnson, who knew he’d be listed fourth on the depth chart to start.



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