A timeline of events last night: waited in line to get into a bar that was thourougly underwhelming. Left my keys in a taxi. Sent a series of text messages that should not have been sent.
With that in mind I was ready to get all indignant regarding the Bills coaching search. Which retread would it be. Lovie, Ken or Jim? Jack Del Rio’s name even came up. No matter who it was the choice would’ve reeked of a classic Bills hire. They coached in the league slash they know how to manage a team. And they’re cheap!? Sign the damn thing.
That’s why I’m shocked. For once, the Bills took a calculated risk that didn’t involve Shawne Merriman. The same fans that have shit on the Bills front office for hiring failures are up in arms over the decision to make Doug Marrone the next Bills Head Coach. It doesn’t make sense.
While Geno Smith was flailing around in the snow, Marrone lead Syracuse to a Pinstripe Bowl victory on December 29th. Yes, the name of the bowl is ridiculous and most of you with lives and/or family disregarded an irrelevant football game played in a baseball stadium. The fact that Syracuse was even there is important.
A record of 25-25 over four years isn’t impressive. But consider the state of the Cuse football program when Marrone took the job and it looks pretty damn good. Greg Robinson — who went on to lead Michigan’s craptastic defence — left the Syracuse football program in shambles. The Orange won ten games in four years. Marrone is credited with changing the culture — hate that term — and holding people accountable. Some of his antics, including shaming players for missing class (who are we kidding here. These guys aren’t sitting through American life in the 1700s with a Phd in mind) was a little much, but the point remains. It’s a thin line. Carrying over the disciplinarian schtick from college to the NFL is risky business — Saban, Nick — but for a team that faced no repercussions for making the same mistakes it’s much needed.
Marrone’s play calling style has been described as up tempo. Not Chip Kelly fast, but fast nonetheless. He worked under Sean Payton for two years. Marrone is a west coast offence disciple, a system I have no problems with as long as the Quarterback is competent. No huddle, shots deep — whatever. All I want to see is Stevie Johnson utilized correctly, C.J Spiller as well.
In the end it will come down the Quarterback. The fear — a legitimate one — is the Bills will reach for a QB with the eighth overall pick. The Dolphins did the same last year, and though it’s way too early to write off Ryan Tannehill…yea, have fun with that Miami. Thankfully there are more desperate teams ahead of Buffalo. Teams that will be forced into picking Geno Smith or Matt Barkley because they have to. The Bills lie in the murky Christian Ponder, Jake Locker territory.
The latest name to arise is Ryan Nassib, Marrone’s Quarterback at Syracuse. At 6’2 and 228 pounds he has the size scouts drool over. NFL Draft Scout has Nassib ranked as the fourth best QB in the draft. Is he worthy of the eighth overall pick? Probably not, but this is standard for teams looking for rebirth through a change at Quarterback: you’re going to take a risk, even if it screams ‘DON’T DO THIS.’
I’m a cynic. Most of us Bills fans are. Russ Brandon has ties to the Syracuse community, Sirhan Sirhan, MKULTRA etc. I like this. Buffalo needs to make hires with 50/50 chance of going horribly wrong. Hiring your Jauron’s and Gailey’s of the world ensure only one thing: mediocrity.
They’re taking a chance. Finally.