The Buffalo Bills are ushering a new era for the franchise, and Adam Schefter is reporting that former Syracuse Orange head coach Doug Marrone has been hired to help usher in that new era. Buddy Nix is still on board as the GM after Chan Gailey was given his walking papers on Black Monday, but he will slowly be pushed on his way out and succeeded by genius assistant GM Doug Whaley. CEO Russ Brandon is currently in operational control of the team, and he said all the right things at a press conference a few days ago. However, the Marrone hire might not be the one Bills fans want.
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Brandon and the Bills want to utilize advance metrics more often in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes, and it will be interesting to see if they are justified in their decision to hire Marrone over other candidates. They were taking a close look at Ken Whisenhunt, Ray Horton, and Lovie Smith, and I think they could have easily landed one of those three. Smith also had interest in the Bills, so the fact that the Bills chose Marrone over him means that they are taking a risk and have a slim margin for error. They can’t make a poor decision in hiring a head coach and cause this team to take another step backwards.
Marrone has plenty of NFL experience, and he was the New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator under Sean Payton before leaving to coach the Orange. I don’t think you can’t give him too much success for leading the Saints offense with the innovative Payton at the helm (and Drew Brees at QB), but you can give Marrone plenty of credit for turning around Syracuse and making them a bowl-winning program in two years after winning just 2-3 games the previous four seasons.
Even so, Marrone holds an 11-17 conference record and a mediocre 25-25 career record as the coach of the Orange. I still think he needed to boost his resume before being considered a legitimate head coach, but it seems like the Bills feel like he already is a legitimate head man for an NFL franchise.
He is from around the area and won’t be moving too far to his new NFL home, and he also has plenty of experience as a coordinator to ease the transition. However, I feel like the Bills had better options. Fans will go into Marrone’s tenure optimistic that the Bills truly do have a new mindset, but maybe the Bills tried too hard to bring in change by hiring a coach from the college ranks. Again, I think they should have went with a more safe option like Smith or Whisenhunt.
There is one thing that points to Marrone being a successful hire for the Bills, and that is the fact that he has versatility coaching on offense (AFC East ties after coaching the New York Jets offensive line earlier in the 2000s) as well as recommendations from the Saints HC-GM pair and the legendary Bill Parcells. But it’s all about actions before words in Buffalo, and Marrone will have to prove that he is different from his predecessors. Otherwise, the Bills will be back where they started once again.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.