Doug Marrone is Now Buffalo Bills Head Coach

Updated: January 6, 2013

At this point I’m sure you’ve already heard that Doug Marrone and the Bills have a mutual agreement for Marrone to become the Bills next head coach. It’s not quite final, but it should be by tomorrow and would be a major surprise if he didn’t wind up as the coach.

Initially, Marrone wasn’t my first choice; I had some reservations about whether or not Marrone’s success in rehabilitating Syracuse University’s football program was a good enough indicator that he would do the same for Buffalo’s downtrodden organization.

Perhaps this is me talking myself into accepting the reality of the situation, but now that it looks like Marrone will be the next head coach, I’m finding myself much more optimistic than I thought I would be. I think part of it was just the Syracuse fan in me not wanting to see the university lose their football savior. However, with the Eagles and Browns aggressively pursuing Marrone as well, it looked to be inevitable.

In any event, there are a few pieces of information that are probably worth noting before anyone gets too far ahead in their assessment.

-Matt Elder over at did a very nice job breaking down Marrone’s career thus far, so take a look at that. Two things should pop out right away. First, Marrone is different than most college coaches who jump to the NFL in that he spent most of his career in the NFL before his 4 seasons at Syracuse. Marrone’s specialty was offensive line (as that’s what he played at Syracuse) before becoming offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints. The Saints were first in the NFL in scoring Marrone’s final year in New Orleans, but it’s tough to say exactly how much of that was Marrone’s doing, as Sean Payton was calling plays. Regardless, I wouldn’t be too worried about Marrone being a “college coach,” because for most of his career, he wasn’t.

-The second thing you’ll notice is how much Syracuse improved during Head Coach Doug Marrone’s tenure. A major point of contention among the proverbial “haters” of the Marrone hire is that he went 25-25, which has been described as “mediocre” by some. I know many Bills fans share my position as a Syracuse fan as well, but for those who don’t, going 25-25, winning two bowl games, and winning a share of the Big East immediately after former Syracuse coach Greg Robinson finished defecating all over the program is a minor miracle, and probably was seen as big accomplishment with those in the NFL know.

-Speaking of NFL circles, Marrone was a much hotter candidate than many are currently realizing. The Browns, Eagles, and Chargers were all reported to have interest, interviews scheduled, or both (I guess you usually don’t schedule an interview if you aren’t interested, but I digress). This may have been a case of the Bills and Russ Brandon realizing that the proverbial window of opportunity was closing. And to put it in context, Lovie Smith, first choice of many Bills fans, had not generated as much interest among other teams.

-Adam Schefter had some tasty nuggets on Sports Center, mentioning that Marrone had spent some time extensively scouting the potential teams that had shown interest, and concluded that the Bills had the most talent. I’m not sure if this is him just pumping up the team that actually gave him a job, but if not it’s certainly encouraging that high profile football people agree that with Russ Brandon’s (and our) assessment that the Bills roster is in much better shape than it was 3 years ago. A feather in Buddy Nix’s cap, if you will.

There’s much more to say about potential coordinator hires, players to bring in, Marrone’s coaching style, and much more, but I think it’s important to understand a little bit of the background before going too crazy about any viewpoint. Also, keep in mind that the Bills haven’t necessarily screwed themselves for 4 years or locked a Super Bowl. This is just the first of many important decisions that will determine the Bills fate in coming years.