The Buffalo Bills’ 2013 offseason was one of the most exciting, yet nerve-wrecking periods the fanbase endured for quite some time. The front office relieved the entire coaching staff, while Russ Brandon was promoted to team president.
Chip Kelly, the offensive mastermind that forced opponents to tap out with his innovative, fast-paced offense, was a hot name that was linked to several teams, including the Bills.
Lovie Smith, another relatively successful defensive minded coach was fired from the Chicago Bears after the team failed to reach the postseason, and became another name linked to the Bills, while receiving a lot of support from Bills fans.
However, the Bills quietly approached then-Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, and the two sides reached an agreement that anointed Marrone as Buffalo’s Head Coach for the near future.
Marrone quickly because a beloved figure of the team’s fanbase. Coach Marrone grew up in the Bronx, a blue-collar area similar to Buffalo. He understands the people and they can relate to him.
Tracking Doug Marrone’s Growth As A Coach
Doug Marrone was named the New York Jets’ Offensive Line Coach in 2002, serving under offensive coordinator Paul Hackett, the father of current Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Hmmmm.
The Jets ran a west coast offense under Hackett, who had had great success at the University of Southern California operating the same scheme. The Jets’ defensive coordinator at the time was Donnie Henderson. Coach Marrone spent four seasons with the Jets’, where running back Curtis Martin had some of his best years.
Following the 2005 season, the New Orleans Saints brought on Marrone as the team’s offensive coordinator. This would prove a big test for Marrone, as the Saints’ offense, based off Air Coryell concepts, rather than the west coast concepts that he was familiarized with during his time with the Jets.
However, Marrone and the Saints operated with a two back offense, utilizing Reggie Bush and Deuce McCallister, two polar opposites in terms of playing style. Each thrived in their individual roles, as the complementary duo combined for 3,277 yards and 53 carries during the three seasons under Coach Marrone’s watch.
Doug Marrone was an offensive lineman in the National Football League, and during his time with the Saints, the lineman he coached have had nothing but gratitude towards him. Jahri Evans, an All-Pro guard in the NFL had this to say about his experiences with Marrone, considering that he was a rookie when the new offensive coordinator was hired.
“He got me in the right direction and got me going,” Evans said. “He’s a great coach and that’s why he moved up so fast.”
Evans said that Marrone continuously stressed technique when coaching the offensive line in New Orleans and that never left the perennial All-Pro guard’s mindset.
Following the 2008 season, Syracuse University gave Marrone his first opportunity to be the head coach of a football team, where he took a program that posted a 10-37 win-loss record over the previous four seasons, turned it around, and managed to finish 25-25 in the five years that he coached there.
What Makes Marrone Such a Great Addition?
Unless Coach Marrone has Academy Award-level acting skills, he is one of the most realistic and down-to-earth coaches I’ve seen in my life. He’s everything a kid looks for in a coach. He takes the game personally, accepting responsibility when things don’t work out the way he’d hoped.
But at the same time, he’s seemingly a fun guy with a great sense of humor and this trait has been shown publicly, in the form of the “Slam Cam,” a game that was played by the Bills’ players throughout training camp.
— Rob Quinn (@RQUINN619) December 6, 2013
Marrone, in his first year removed from coaching all college players, to a young team with a roster that contained 27 players who were three years or less removed from college.
He engaged with his players and always appeared to be upbeat, even lining up at center multiple times throughout training camp practices.
Doug Marrone isn’t the type of man to place blame on others. He’s ultimately in charge of the team, and he fully accepts responsibility for not only great performances, but the bad ones as well.
The Bills have been downright awful for the past 13 years. The 2013 season was expected to be a rocky end to an eventual rise. Without facing any pressure from fans, media or the front office, this was a season for Marrone to experiment.
Instead, Marrone has turned those problems inward.
“My expectations are extremely high,” Marrone said, via the Buffalo News. “I’m very disappointed in myself, with where we are, and it starts with me.”
“I’ve got to find a way to get it better because I really believe that if I come across as the head coach and don’t have those expectations, then we’ll fall short of our goals at the end. I want to make sure that we’re accountable, starting with myself, and keeping those things extremely high and keep fighting for that. We can do that.
This coach is selfless and it seems like he’s all about winning, and doing it the right way. For the first time in my 22-year old life, I feel like the Buffalo Bills are finally headed in the right direction. Doug Marrone is a major part of that.