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Heat's off Jauron for now

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By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 21, 2001


Some predicted Bears coach Dick Jauron would be gone by now. Management reportedly had broached the subject of his dismissal before the season, hinting that he'd be forced out before the Bears went through another dismal year.

Yet, six weeks into the season, Jauron is being toasted instead of roasted in Chicago. The Bears (3-1) have won three straight and are a half-game behind Green Bay in the NFC Central.

For the moment, anyway, Jauron isn't on the hot seat. He's just hot.

"It's hard when you're losing like we've lost. To get out of the hole is tough," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "Winning early is what we wanted to do, and we've had to do it the hard way. . . . I definitely like what I'm seeing."

Jauron isn't sure he's out of the woods just yet. The Bears embark on a tough stretch starting today at Cincinnati, followed by San Francisco, Cleveland, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, Green Bay again and Tampa Bay again.

Asked why the Bears are playing so well, Jauron said: "I think luck."

TRIVIA QUESTION: Since the start of the 1999 season, only three teams have won at least 25 regular-season games. Name them.

WONDER WHAT HE REALLY THINKS: The Dolphins (3-2) are off today and, after blowing a 17-0 lead to the Jets Sunday, it's probably just what the team needs.

"We (stink)," linebacker Zach Thomas said after the Jets game. "We disappoint every year. I've been here six years and this is disappointing. ... I've got to look at it as we (stink)."

Later, Thomas made no apologies.

"It's something that's got to be said. If it rubs people the wrong way, they're in the wrong business," he said. "Because it's not about having a good year. I'm tired of having that good year. We've been good. We haven't been great. That's what I want to achieve."

STAT OF THE WEEK: The Titans are 17-2 when quarterback Steve McNair rushes for a touchdown and 9-0 when he runs and throws for a touchdown in the same game.

RIVER CITY BLUES: Miami doesn't always sell out its home games, which is understandable. But Jacksonville?

Thursday night's nationally-televised game against Buffalo was the second straight game the Jags failed to sell out.

I mean, really. What else is there to do on a Thursday night in Jacksonville?

A NEW LEAF: Don't look now, but quarterback Ryan Leaf could be the Cowboys' starter Oct. 28 against Arizona.

Dallas has used this off week to get Leaf as much work as possible in an effort to see if he's good enough to replace Quincy Carter and Anthony Wright.

SEE, WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS ... : Miami running back Lamar Smith probably isn't in danger of being benched, but his three fumbles this season -- one on the 1-yard line and another returned for a touchdown -- are testing coach Dave Wannstedt's patience.

"It's a major concern," Wannstedt said. "There's no excuses. He knows that."

WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK IT?: Isn't it ironic that the Jets' Vinny Testaverde, who once set a Bucs record with 35 interceptions in a season and led the league last season with 25, is the only quarterback without an interception in five games this season?

DID YOU KNOW?: Of the 16 teams with winning records coming into Week 6, only three -- Jets (Testaverde), Browns (Tim Couch) and Giants (Kerry Collins) -- have first-round draft picks as regular starting quarterbacks.

SOMEBODY HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON PLEASE: It's probably a good thing the Raiders are idle today. After their Sunday night win in Indianapolis, they didn't arrive home until 6 a.m., after their plane was diverted from Oakland to San Francisco because of high winds combined with their overloaded plane.

"I blame Darrell Russell," quipped coach Jon Gruden. "I think Darrell pushed it over the top."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: This one comes from Giants running back Tiki Barber, talking about his team's nine-game winning streak over Monday night's opponent, the Eagles: "If you flip a coin 10 times, eventually it's going to land on heads once. We just hope it's not this time."

TRIVIA ANSWER: St. Louis (28-9), Tennessee (27-9) and Indianapolis (25-11).

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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