Dick Jauron feels the pain of the Buffalo Bills' fans.
He knows he is the primary target of the fans' frustration over last season's disappointing finish. He also knows that no matter what he says, there is only one thing he can do to improve his popularity -- and his job security -- as Buffalo Bills head coach: win.
"For our Buffalo Bills fans, like all of them, we were disappointed, clearly, in the way our season ended," Jauron said Thursday. "We're working like heck to get us into a position where it doesn't happen [again], where we can sustain and play consistent football through a year and fight our way to a playoff spot. That's what we plan on doing, that's what we want to do and certainly that's what they want us to do."
Jauron spoke publicly at the National Scouting Combine for the first time since the Bills' season ended Dec. 28.
He didn't say much about the recent arrest of running back Marshawn Lynch on an illegal weapons possessions charge.
Jauron also didn't say much about which positions the Bills will try to upgrade, which was no surprise. Coaches don't want to tip their hand before the start of free agency.
However, Jauron, the master of the measured response, offered more straight talk than usual about being the embattled face of the organization.
Internet fan polls ran 90 percent against Jauron in the days after the Bills' 7-9 finish, before owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. confirmed Jauron would return for a fourth season.
Does he insulate himself from the criticism?
"I don't know how you do it," he said. "You can't not hear. You can't not read negative things that are written. They're written when you lose. The only way to make everybody happy is to win. I understand their feelings when they're negative. I'm a fan. I have teams I pull for, and the Buffalo Bills are at the top of the list. So when we don't win, I'm not particularly happy, either.
"I understand the feeling," he said of fan discontent. "We have to win and that's our business. And we plan on winning."
Asked if he feels fortunate that Wilson showed the patience to stand by a contract extension that had been handed out earlier in the season, Jauron said:
"I've always felt very fortunate to be in the league. I love being in the league. I loved playing in the league. I love coaching in the National Football League, so I'm very fortunate to be here. . . . To work for Mr. Wilson is a blessing. It is a blessing and to have an opportunity to come back for a fourth year on a team that I really like. I really like these guys and I think we have a chance.
"So right now, I'm really excited to have another opportunity. I'm really excited about our team. I clearly love living in the Buffalo community and being a part of it. I'm glad to be back, so that's how I feel. And my job is to do a better job, to get us ready, to attract more talent, to better prepare it, to get us on the field and be a consistent winner."
The Bills finished last in the AFC East, four games behind the division winner. Jauron said the Bills are closer to being a contender than their division standing indicates.
"I feel like we're closer, there's no doubt," he said. "But you can interpret it however you want and everybody will. If you're asking me, then I'm telling you, yes I do."
Jauron said a big reason he's optimistic is he thinks they have a winning, young quarterback in Trent Edwards.
"He'll be better because . . . he doesn't have to re-learn it every day," he said. "He usually builds from day to day. I'm very optimistic about his ability, which makes me optimistic about our team.
"[Edwards] handles our information well. He gets it to the team very well. He'll get us in the right play when given the option to do it. In general, he goes through his progression well and his reads well. He delivers the ball. I don't know what else there is. He's fairly accurate. His arm is strong enough. He's tough. He's competitive. He's a good teammate.
"I believe physically he'll develop. He got bigger and stronger last year over the previous year. I think he'll do the same this year. He knows significantly more than last year. I'm very optimistic, almost entirely because the man has talent, he's a good guy and he works at it."
He acknowledged several times during a 30-minute interview that the onus is on him to improve his game and clock management.
"We need to get more efficient in our procedures," he said. "Certainly as a head coach and as a coaching staff, we have to get more efficient in terms of our communication. That can help us to some degree.
"I would say in general our [game-day] communication is good," he said. "It's just in specific situations where it didn't happen the way you'd like to happen or the way you worked on making it happen, it really hurt us. It ended up really hurting us."
He acknowledged the team needs to be more potent on offense and needs to get more pressure on the quarterback on defense.
The Bills finished 23rd in the NFL in points and 26th in sacks.
He does not think the team lacks a tough mentality.
"No, I wouldn't say that toughness is an issue with our team," he said.
He also did not say much about Lynch's situation.
"Well, you never like to see any Bills' names or really an NFL name in the news in regards to those kinds of incidents," Jauron said prior to Lynch being charged with three gun-related misdemeanors. "Marshawn has retained a lawyer and the organization has made a statement."