After losing two straight games, the Buffalo Bills’ playoff hopes are holding on by an unwinding thread. The losses have pushed the team’s issues into the blazing hot spotlight. One reasoning is that the offensive players haven’t been executing well, or consistently, enough, which is certainly a contributing factor. But with a league worst red-zone offense, the coaching staff should be taking most of the heat.
This got me to thinking, as I discussed amongst my friends, what will it take for head coach Doug Marrone to keep his job for another year?
With expectations being a playoff berth, or at least playoff contention, one would think that anything short of that has to result in his ousting, although I think there is an alternative scenario that could save Marrone’s job, but it would require a sacrificial lamb by the season’s end.
Firstly Marrone has to finish at or better than 8-8 on the year. Anything with a losing record should be deemed unacceptable, especially with the noted tension between Marrone and the front office that started in training camp. Expectation is the biggest obstacle Marrone has to get around and getting to that magical .500 mark will help spell some of those.
Secondly, Marrone will have to fire offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. He leads the NFL’s worst red zone offense, and coupled with an inability to make in game adjustments to counter opposing defensive adjustments, it just further shows he’s in over his head as a play caller. The two losses have further exposed that ingenuity on offense and further cements that the Bills offensive coordinator #canthackett.
Finally, for Marrone he has to find a suitable replacement for the departed Hackett. It has to be a known offensive coordinator with experience developing and grooming quarterbacks. Kyle Orton has shown that he is a capable starter, but he isn’t going to be confused for Peyton Manning. The best way to describe Orton is that he is an upgraded version of Ryan Fitzpatrick. More arm talent and accuracy, but will still throw interceptions and doesn’t make the right adjustments often enough. Simply put he’s an even quarterback, and his career record shows as much.
If I were Marrone, I would target San Diego Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich. Beyond the obvious history he has with the organization, including being a former quarterbacks coach for the Bills, Reich has learned from former OC Ken Whisenhunt, and current Head Coach Mike McCoy. He’s been able to help Phillip Rivers with his accuracy, and utilizes an offense that works more off talent than scheme. It’s a natural hire that would take some pressure off Marrone.
We still have to see how the Bills play these final six games. They could be world beaters and somehow sneak into the playoffs, but if they don’t then new owner Terry Pegula will have to evaluate the coaching staff as a whole, and the options laid out above is probably the best case scenario for Marrone.