The Buffalo Bills announced on Jan. 7 that Doug Marrone will be taking over as the new head coach. Marrone had been coaching at Syracuse and compiled a 25-25 record in four seasons at the school. The 48-year-old will take over the reigns from Chan Gailey, who was fired a week earlier following three straight losing seasons. Marrone is now the team’s fifth head coach in the past dozen years.
The Bills said they searched high-and-low for a head coach and they felt that Marrone was the right man to lead the team out of its losing ways and paint a brighter picture for the future. The teams’s management and Marrone got together up to five times before he was hired to make sure that they were on the same page. When it became evident they were, he was promptly hired.
Buffalo hasn’t made the NFL playoffs for the past 13 seasons, which is currently the longest post-season drought in the league. The last time the team had a winning record was back in 2004 and they barely made it then by going 9-7.
Marrone was also interviewed by the Cleveland Browns, but he said Buffalo was always his first choice especially since it’s close to his hometown. He also played for Syracuse in the 1980s as an offensive lineman.
Marrone said that coaching at Syracuse was a “dream come true”, but coaching in the NFL is another dream that he wanted to realize and he’s as excited as he could possibly be by taking over in Buffalo.
He has experienced life in the NFL before though, as he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets. He spent 2006-2008 with the Saints as an offensive coordinator, and before that, he was with the Jets from 2002-2005 as an offensive line coach.
Marrone did well in New Orleans, as he helped guide the team’s offense to the No. 1 ranking in yards in both 2006 and 2008. In addition, the team had 440 completions in 2007, which set an NFL record. While coaching in Syracuse, Marrone won a pair of Pinstripe Bowls, which included one back in December against West Virginia.
Marrone’s background deals with offense and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the quarterback situation in Buffalo as it’s quite unstable. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the current starter at quarterback, but he’s been mediocre over the last four seasons with a record of 20-33.
It’s believed that Buddy Nix, the Bills general manager, will try to improve at quarterback in the next draft or by signing a free agent. The team’s defense also needs to improve, as it allowed a total of 435 points in the 2012 season, which was the second-worst ever in the team’s history.
Marrone will certainly realize pretty quickly the he has his work cut out for him in Buffalo.