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Schonert firing blindsides Evans

For wide receiver Lee Evans, the firing of offensive coordinator Turk Schonert was like a blind-side hit from a safety.

He never saw it coming.

Evans expressed shock that the Buffalo Bills would make such a move just 10 days before they open the season at New England.

"It caught me all the way off guard," he said. "It was definitely a surprise."

Head coach Dick Jauron said Friday that Schonert's firing was due in large part to the lack of production by the offense in the preseason. The starters tallied just one field goal in 15 possessions, and even the backups had trouble finding the end zone.

Thursday's 17-6 preseason-ending loss to the Detroit Lions was the second straight game in which the Bills failed to score a touchdown this summer.

Even though you can't put too much stock in exhibition games, the Bills' woes had Evans wondering about the state of the offense. He even went to the coaches last week, seeking reassurance that things were going in the right direction.

"There were some concerns," he said. "From what things were supposed to be to what they were, it was a big difference. So I think that may have been a part of the decision."

Evans said he got along well with Schonert, but there were whispers that Schonert's relationship with other players, namely quarterback Trent Edwards, was shaky at best.

There also were whispers of some philosophical differences between Schonert and other members of the coaching staff.

"He liked to do things his way," Evans said. "It's one of those things where coming from the system that he played in, it was pass-heavy. That's what he liked to do, regardless of what other people thought he should have done.

"He was definitely a good dude. I learned a lot from him. But as many people as there is in this game sometimes you just don't rub some people the right way."

Like most team observers, Evans is very interested to see how the offense operates under Alex Van Pelt, who replaces Schonert while retaining his title as quarterbacks coach.

"I think the best thing Alex has going for him right now is the experience with the no-huddle offense from being a part of it when it was run at a very high level," Evans said. "One of the best things about him becoming the coordinator is his understanding what we have offensively now and what we need to do in our division.

"Come Sunday, I'm looking forward to going in and seeing how things are."

After Thursday's game, Evans left Ralph Wilson Stadium with his thoughts turned on the upcoming season.

Little did he know that less than 24 hours later, he and his teammates would be dealing with the curious timing of Schonert's departure.

"I was talking about that with somebody else," Evans said. "But things happen in this game that you don't always expect. I know as players we didn't know this was coming and I know it probably caught a lot of coaches, if not every coach, by surprise. So you never know the full extent of why things happen all the time."

Changing offensive coordinators so close to the regular season is not the ideal situation, but Evans said the team has to make the best of it.

"The head coach made the decision and we're in a position where we have to accept it and move forward," he said. "I do know we're still optimistic as an offense that we can do the things we're capable of. We just have to keep working and hope everything works out for the best."


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