ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Dick Jauron was fired by the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, when the coach ran out of time to build a contender or come up with a way to fix an offense that sputtered even with the addition of Terrell Owens.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson announced Jauron's dismissal, saying he made the decision "for the best interest of his team." The move came two days after the Bills (3-6) fell further out of contention following a 41-17 loss at Tennessee.
A replacement coach has yet to be hired as the Bills prepare to play at Jacksonville on Sunday. Jauron's successor is expected to come from the current staff and be hired on an interim basis only. Candidates include assistant head coach Bobby April and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
The Bills are averaging just over 15 points from an offense that acquired Owens this offseason but remains unsettled at quarterback. The defense is riddled with injuries, and has allowed an NFL-worst 173 yards rushing a game.
Jauron leaves with a 24-33 record over three-plus seasons, and went 5-14 in his past 19.
"I really don't have anything to say," was all Jauron would say when reached on his cell phone by The Associated Press.
Buffalo, which has not made the playoffs since 1999, has now gone through four coaches since the end of the 2000 season, when Wade Phillips was dismissed. Gregg Williams was not rehired after his three-year contract expired, while Mike Mularkey abruptly resigned after a front-office shakeup following the 2005 season.
Jauron was hired by former general manager Marv Levy, who took over the post following Tom Donahoe's dismissal. Jauron has been on the hot seat ever since last season, after he led the Bills to their third consecutive 7-9 finish.
Expressing a need for continuity, Wilson elected to retain Jauron. The Hall of Fame owner, however, noted that he was aware of Bills fans' dissatisfaction with the team, and warned that he wasn't going to be "complacent" in seeking improvements, particularly on offense.
Those improvements haven't come even after the team made a big splash in free agency by signing Owens to a one-year $6.5 million contract in March, days after the receiver was released by Dallas.
Owens hasn't provided a spark to an offense that has been undone by a young and inexperienced offensive line and poor play at quarterback, whether it's starter Trent Edwards or backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Jauron had previously accepted the blame for misjudging the impact a young line would have on the offense, and for staying with a no-huddle attack, which was scrapped six games into the season. The Bills opened the year with two rookie starting guards - first-round draft pick Eric Wood and second-rounder Andy Levitre - and second-year left tackle Demetrius Bell, who didn't play a down as a rookie last season.
The Bills haven't generated 300 yards offense in eight of nine games this season, including their past seven. They also haven't had a quarterback generate 200 yards passing since Edwards had 230 yards in a 33-20 win over Tampa Bay in Week 2.
Jauron becomes the first NFL coach to be fired this season, and first Bills coach to be fired midseason since Hank Bullough was fired nine games into the 1986 season, and replaced by Levy.
Jauron previously went 46-49 during a five-year stint with Chicago earlier this decade and as an interim coach in Detroit in closing the 2005 season.