Following the Buffalo Bills’ loss to the Miami Dolphins on national television, there was one thing that was made perfectly clear: Doug Marrone is not cut out to be the head coach of an NFL franchise. Through two seasons with Marrone at the helm, the Bills have posted an 11-15 record, despite having arguably the most talented roster in the AFC East.
Marrone was sold to fans as an “innovative” offensive mind; a former offensive lineman that had ties to the western New York community. Essentially, fans were fed the idea that he was “one of us.” Marrone was the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints from 2006 to 2008, but Sean Payton called the plays. At Syracuse, he “turned around” a program that eventually finished with a 25-25 record under his tutelage. He brought with him an energetic 33-year old offensive coordinator who’s never coached at the professional level. He also filled his staff with coaches that were either inexperiened or unproven– Some didn’t make it to this season.
As Bills fans usually do, we bought in. We gobbled up talk of the “robust analytics department” and the up-tempo, west coast offense that Marrone and his young disciple Nathaniel Hackett would bring to Buffalo.
However, while defensive units led by Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz have kept the Bills more competitive than they probably should have, Marrone’s “bread and butter”- the offense, more specifically the offensive line, has been disastrous. Since Marrone took over as head coach, the Bills’ offense has scored 288 points. Dan Carpenter, the kicker, has scored 218.
Now, I defended Marrone and Hackett numerous times on this very blog, finding excuses for the incompetence- from the quarterback situation, to injuries, etc. But, it’s time to place blame where it’s due. For a coach touted as “innovative” and “aggressive,” we’ve failed to see either of those terms come to life. Marrone and Hackett’s decision-making inside opponent territory has been maddening, punting on fourth-and-short and utilizing poor clock-management and predictable play-calling has led to the team ranking dead last in redzone percentage this season.
In addition to his in-game blunders, Marrone has made several head-scratching personnel decisions as well. First, the team decided to use a roster spot for a kickoff specialist, the only team in the NFL to do so. If you’re going to use a valuable roster spot on a kickoff specialist, he better be pretty darn good. Jordan Gay has forced touchbacks on 60.38% of his kicks, good for 13th in the league.
Additionally, you’d think that the worst redzone offense in football would find a way to get Mike Williams, a proven redzone threat who’s scored 15 touchdowns in opponent territory, tied for 14th in the league. He’s with Stevie Johnson, who was deemed expendable after butting heads with Marrone.
All in all, it’s become quite obvious that Marrone probably isn’t the guy that will get the Buffalo Bills to their first playoff appearance since 1999. His overly-conservative philosophy and his willingness to force his defense to win games in a league driven by offense is evidence that he isn’t the aggressive or innovative mastermind that we were led to believe he was.
Now, I’m not calling for Marrone to be fired today. But Terry Pegula needs to have his outside people truly evaluate the coaching staff from top-to-bottom and explore every possible option they have during the offseason. This roster is loaded with talent, and while it lacks a game-changing quarterback, the team should not be sitting at .500 right now.
It’s time for Marrone to follow his own motto- “Don’t Confuse Effort With Results.”