Preliminary Season Grade: Coach Doug Marrone

Since the lump of coal is firmly placed in the bottom of my stocking already… again… I need some jollies to get through the rest of yet another empty postseason. While there are some games left to play that could alter these assessments, let’s look at where this coach and team is at in its quest for a turnaround.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Who played naughty, and who played nice? Can any one of them alter their preliminary season grade at this point? Let’s just lay out some grades and dicker for the next few weeks until we can come to some consensus about some players/coach/FO grades for their season.

This week I’ll start with…

Coach Marrone:

Solid “B” from me. While I thought he did an admirable job trying to patch together an OL, they were inconsistent enough to cost the team some games. They were not alone in their failure to perform on offense. However, as he was an OL player himself, he knows the failures and presumably who needs to go and who stays after the season.

Definitely needs to work on understanding and utilizing the challenge system better. Whether it’s changing the person who is looking at these plays (and replays) up in the booth, and/or his decision making process, something needs to improve in this area.

If players make their biggest leap from year one to year two, is this also true of rookie head coaches? I really would like your feedback about that question in the commentary section here. I’m not sure, but it would seem like coaches also figure out what works and what obviously (Coach Marrone’s favorite word) does not.

With respect to understanding the urgency of turning this team around, I’d give Marrone a solid “A”. He gets it. He doesn’t need to be told how the fan base feels after 14 years of sucktitude. I also give him kudos for being the first head coach since Levy who truly understands the fan base.

While Chan Gailey also had a acute awareness and fondness for the fan base, guys like Jauron and especially Mularkey couldn’t get out of WNY fast enough. Doug Marrone is not an outsider. He is one of us, even if he is from the Bronx. It’s growing up in the Bronx that helped him develop the chip on his shoulder that we native WNYers have had to have to put up with the rest of the country dissing us.

Before anyone goes off on me for focusing on personality instead of x’s and o’s… personality is everything in becoming a great head coach. You don’t have to be Mike Ditka in terms of expressive. Even Tom Landry had a personality that instilled inspiration in his players. Doug Marrone reminds me of a Parcells kind of guy with a softer media approach.

The argument against Dougie that some people make that he finished .500 at Syracuse therefore he wasn’t a good head coach is ludicrous. Syracuse had one of the worst football teams in collegiate history. They were horrid. They were UB horrid (lol… I’m an alumnus so I’m allowed to joke about the growing pains of our Div I football team).

Marrone was there for four years. He jettisoned a number of players, and players who didn’t want to play under HIS system left. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, let me go on record and predict that at the conclusion of this Bills season, there will be heads rolling that may shock some of the most jaded of Bills fans.

It’s the Dougie way. There is also an emotional side to this guy that does fit better than OJ’s glove in WNY. Dougie is a big teddy bear, but one who can instantly turn into a grizzly bear and devour you in a flash.

I would not want to make this man angry. I bet his dog AND his entire family flees like cockroaches when you turn on the light when he comes home from a game like last week. He needs to vent, and thankfully he does so even during his press conferences.

For the record, other than the petting the dog presser, my favorite was him sitting down after the Toronto game and telling reporters how much he hurt. You can’t fake that stuff.

Now, what Coach Marrone does at the conclusion of the season and during the off season may drastically change the overall grade I give him. Right now he has earned a solid “B”. That may change.

The next three games are critical and will tell fans whether we really ARE entering a new era, or whether we are getting the same old line of blarney out of OBD. What I need to see to be convinced that things are going to change for the better is a couple of convincing wins.

It is imperative that this team give this fan base something to think positively about for next season. All the ardent Bills fans I know are literally at their wits end with the team. They don’t want to hear how players or coaches don’t know or can’t take responsibility for what happened in the past.

I’m happy that we are starting to hear more players and the front office acknowledging the humiliating drought this fan base has endured for so long. It’s a disgrace. All we want as a fan base is a team that loves us back as much as we love them.

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynMundyWYO.