06 January 2013

Is Doug Marrone a good hire for the Bills?

(Cue the Michael Smith narration) What if I told you that the first college coach to go to the NFL this year was not Chip Kelly? Well that is the case as the Buffalo Bills agreed to hire Doug Marrone, formerly the coach at Syracuse, as their new head coach. Marrone was a hot candidate for several jobs, including those in Cleveland, Philadelphia and San Diego but will simply head 150 miles west on the Thruway for his next job.

The Bills are dealing with an anxious fanbase because they have not made the playoffs since 1999, the longest drought in the NFL, and have gone through five different coaches since then. Therefore, is Marrone a good fit for Buffalo?

Some may discredit Marrone off the bat as a hire considering his overall record during his four years with the Orange was 25-25. However, it is important to note that during the prior four years, the Orange went 10-37 as Greg Robinson drove the proud program right into the ground. Marrone's time at his alma mater resulted in the program becoming respected once again in the Big East thanks to two eight-win campaigns (with bowl victories) in his last three years. Of course, some may also discredit college coaches jumping to the NFL considering the inconsistent success rate of college coaches in the NFL but it appears to be the new trend now in the league to bring in college coaches (Harbaugh, Carroll, Schiano and apparently also Kelly).

What does help Marrone is that he does have coaching experience in the NFL. Marrone was the offensive line coach with the Jets from 2002-2005 and was the offense coordinator with the Saints for three years before leaving to take the Syracuse job. While he did not call plays for the Saints during that time, he did play a big part in helping Drew Brees and co. develop one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. The Bills were looking for an offensive coach and thus Marrone's background helps.

Honestly if I were the Bills and I was looking for an offensive coach, I would have hired Ken Whisenhunt, the just-fired Cardinals coach who was a finalist for the job due to his proven success as an NFL coach. I also probably would have gone with Lovie Smith before Marrone as well. But overall, I think this is a solid hire for the Bills. Marrone does have a proven track record, did a great job at Syracuse and has NFL experience which I think should generally be a necessity for college coaches jumping to the big show. Plus, he is currently pretty popular upstate so that helps, I guess.

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