I found out the Bills had decided Marrone was their guy when a co-worker called me at 5:45 Sunday morning. The early wake up on a day off plays no role in my feelings here although I may have cursed out the Bills and said something like “you couldn’t wait till Monday?”
I didn’t do cartwheels when I heard the news(not that I could even if I wanted to) nor did I pound my fist into the wall and exclaim “what the (bleep) are the Bills doing?”
My opinion at this point is “okay, lets see what the guy can do.” He wasn’t my first choice, although I didn’t really have a guy I felt that strongly about among the list of candidates the Bills were considering.
You can debate the merits of Marrone’s selection but you can’t debate the fact this is a different move for the Bills. They did not go the re-tread route as they did with Chan Gailey and Dick Jauron.
Nor did they go with an NFL coordinator who was getting his first head coaching job as was the case with Gregg Williams and Mike Mularkey.
For the first time in the 53 year history of the franchise, the Bills picked a head coach directly from the college ranks.
The Bills continue getting younger in the upper levels of the organization. Former team President Ralph Wilson is 94 years old. Soon to be former General Manager Buddy Nix is 73 and former Head Coach Chan Gailey is 61. For those that don’t like to do math, that is a combined age of 228.
Russ Brandon, who is now the President, is 45. GM in waiting Doug Whaley is 40 and Marrone is the elder statesman of the group at 48. Their combined age is 133, or 95 years younger than the trio they are replacing.
Here’s what I like about Marrone. He is an offensive minded guy who has developed a quarterback in his last 4 years at Syracuse University. The most critical player move of the off season will be the person the Bills draft in April as their quarterback of the future.
Marrone developed Ryan Nassib who leaves Syracuse having broken some of Donovan McNabb’s passing records and whose draft stock is rising. Before the season began, Nassib was considered, by many a mid rounds prospect at best. Nassib is now being talked about as a 2nd round pick although some mock drafts have him going in round one.
Among the qualities the Bills were looking for in their next head coach, was someone who can change the culture of losing that has been hanging around One Bills Drive for the last 13 years.
Marrone faced the same task at SU back in 2009 when the former Orange player got what he termed his “dream job”.
The Bronx, NY native took over a program that had plummeted to the bottom of the Big East and the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Orange had a 10-37 record overall and 3-25 in conference play the 4 seasons prior to Marrone’s arrival in Central New York.
Marrone leaves with a record of 25-25 overall, 11-17 in the Big East and 2 bowl appearances.
I also like the fact that he worked for Sean Payton, considered one of the top offensive minds in the NFL. When Payton was hired by the New Orleans Saints in 2006, Marrone was his first Offensive Coordinator. Payton designed the offense and called the plays himself but Marrone had 3 years to soak up everything he possibly could from Payton. Marrone ran a pro style offense at Syracuse and utilized a quick tempo, no huddle attack at times.
For those of you that put stock into the idea of someone wanting to be here, Marrone sought out the Bills and was said to be very interested in the job. One Bills source told me it was a different day for the franchise because a coach was choosing them.
In addition to his ability to change the culture at Syracuse, the source told me the Bills liked Marrone because he is a tough minded, high energy, dynamic coach. They also did prefer someone with previous head coaching experience.
Last month Sports Illustrated’s Peter King had an item in his Monday Morning Quarterback column about the top 5 college candidates for an NFL job, as determined from his conversations with front office people around the league. Marrone was on that list, ending up 5th behind Chip Kelly whom the Bills also interviewed, David Shaw(Stanford), Brian Kelly(Notre Dame) and Kirk Ferentz(Iowa).
I like the fact Marrone was drawing interest from other teams as well as the Bills. He was interviewed by the Cleveland Browns, was scheduled to talk to Philadelphia this past weekend and was going to interview with San Diego this week where he was reported to be a strong candidate.
Like I said, this isn’t a “WOW” pick nor is it a “same old messed up Bills” choice. Lets term it an “interesting” selection and we’ll see how it plays out.