If the Buffalo Bills were hoping to energize their fan base with a big-time coaching hire, naming Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone the next head coach of the Bills (via The Buffalo News) is the equivalent of a strong cup of chamomile.
Exciting or not, this decision will have obvious long-term implications for the franchise.
Here are some thoughts on what Marrone brings to the table as the next head coach of the Bills.
This hire is proof that the Bills are focused on the long-term future of the franchise. With so many big names on the market—former Bears head coach Lovie Smith, former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt—there were plenty of opportunities to go with a big-time commodity.
Instead, this will be a fresh opportunity for Marrone in his first NFL head coaching gig, and a fresh start for the Bills. Marrone, 48, is the youngest head coach the Bills have had since Mike Mularkey was coach in 2004 at the age of 43.
This will be Marrone's first NFL head coaching gig, but his experience at Syracuse was enough to help him land the gig.
am told #Bills believe Marrone is tough minded, high energy, dynamic, culture changing coach. they also preferred guy with HC experience— howard (@hsimon62) January 6, 2013
Marrone also has experience instilling a winning mentality in a team that has adopted a culture of losing. His 25-25 record with the Orangemen may not seem impressive at face value, but that's considerable improvement over the team's 10-37 record in the four years prior to his hire.
Syracuse also won the Pinstripe Bowl in 2010 and 2012, with 2010 marking the team's first bowl game since 2004. This year marked the first time since 2004 that the Orangemen won a share of the Big East title.
Doug Marrone's legacy at Cuse will be pulling the program out of the darkest stretch (and worst hire) in its history.— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) January 6, 2013
The Bills moved in quickly for Marrone. It was first reported on Friday that the two sides had met, although the Bills had already interviewed several other candidates prior to Marrone.
NFL Experience and Adaptability
Marrone is an offensive-minded head coach, and was the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints from 2006-2008. He is also vaguely familiar with the AFC East, having coached the New York Jets offensive line in 2002-2005 and helping pave the way for Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin.
In 2004 behind Marrone's line, Martin had the most yards from scrimmage in a season in his career.
His experiences were much different in New Orleans.
The Saints offense ranked in the top five in total yards in each of his three years as offensive coordinator, and in the top five in scoring two of his three years, but they did it behind quarterback Drew Brees who earned the two highest single-season passer ratings of his Saints career.
That being said, he utilized his backs in their roles very well. In those years, the Saints had two or three backs share the load. That should be music to the ears of Bills fans who are hoping for a coach that can maximize the talents of running back C.J. Spiller.
He worked with Reggie Bush for the explosive back's first three years in the NFL, in which he had 213 receptions in 38 games (5.6 receptions per game).
We can expect to see Spiller and Fred Jackson get their share of carries—the distribution of carries between Saints and Syracuse backs has generally been very even under Marrone. That being said, his tenure with the Jets proves he knows a good back when he sees one.
Not only does he know how (and how often) to best utilize his backs, but he is not afraid to put them to work in the passing game, which bodes well for Spiller who averaged 10.7 yards per catch in 2012—comparable to many wide receivers—and had touchdown receptions of 66 and 32 yards this season.
The Bills may not have landed the known commodity, but he has succeeded in a variety of environments, and that adaptability can only mean good things for his tenure with the Bills.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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