LANDOVER, Md. – The man who gave new Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone his first NFL job applauds the hire.
Herm Edwards was head coach of the New York Jets in 2002 when he hired Marrone as his new offensive line.
“He was at (the University of) Tennessee,” Edwards said Sunday afternoon in a phone interview. “When our college scouts went out on the road to scout players, I always asked them about position coaches, too. So Doug was on my radar screen as an offensive line coach.
“His name came up, I brought him up, interviewed him and hired him.”
New Bills president Russ Brandon on Sunday morning confirmed overnight reports that Marrone (pronounced Ma-RONE) had reached an agreement in principle with the NFL club to become its new head coach.
A contract and other details had yet to be hammered out.
Marrone, 48, had been head coach at Syracuse University since 2009. In four years there he turned around a dumpster-fire of a program, which hadn’t had a winning season since 2001.
“He’s a very hands-on coach, and good with the fundamentals and techniques,” said Edwards, 58, who coached the Kansas City Chiefs from 2006-08 after the Jets. “He’s disciplined. And he’s very competitive. Now, sometimes on the sidelines he doesn’t look like it. He’s not going to get overly dramatic. But his teams will be well-prepared.
“If you look at what he’s done at Syracuse, obviously he’s taken that team and turned it around. They’ve become very competitive again.”
Indeed, Marrone led his Alma Mater to a pair of 8-5 seasons, both capped by bowl victories. His record was 25-25, whereas the Orange had gone 26-57 in the seven seasons before Marrone’s arrival.
Marrone was one of five candidates the Bills interviewed after dumping previous head coach Chan Gailey last Monday. The others: fired Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, fired Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton, fired Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and the hottest head-coach candidate from the college ranks, Oregon’s Chip Kelly.
The Bills interviewed Marrone on Friday. Cleveland had interviewed him, twice, and Philadelphia was in line to do likewise.
Was Marrone wise to take an NFL job while his popularity iron was hot? Edwards said yes.
“You do,” he said.
“People don’t realize that along with those seven head-coach vacancies come at least 15 to 18 assistant-coach vacancies at each place. Well, there are guys looking for work. So now, when you have a guy other teams also wanted, you the opportunity to hire good assistant coaches, too.”
Edwards chuckled when asked how candidates suddenly become so popular.
“That’s the old NFL deal, which is interesting. You become the main guy. It’s kind of like, he wasn’t on Philadelphia’s radar screen, but obviously teams take note. ‘Who are they bringing in to interview? Doug Marrone? Well we need to bring him in, too.’”
Marrone began his coaching career in 1992. He spent the first 10 years in the college ranks, working up to Georgia Tech, Georgia and Tennessee. He was tight ends coach with the Volunteers and mentored current Dallas Cowboys star Jason Witten.
After spending four seasons under Edwards on the Jets from 2002-05, Marrone became Sean Payton’s offensive coordinator on the New Orleans Saints – although Payton called plays for Drew Brees and Co.
Marrone himself played his college football at Syracuse. He started as an offensive lineman from 1983-85, then played two seasons in the NFL – a peripheral player with the Miami Dolphins in 1987 and the Saints in 1989.
While Marrone might not have ever made it in the NFL on the field, he’ll now has his first chance to run things from the sideline.
“The thing is, he coached the offensive line,” Edwards said. “Andy Reid spent years as an offensive line coach and then worked his way up. Those guys – they do the brunt of the work. They don’t get a lot of notoriety, like offensive coordinators do. They kind of get lost in the mix.”
Not anymore for Marrone.
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MARRONE GOT MORE OUT OF MOORE:
LANDOVER, Md. – Former New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards said he likes to cite this story when discussing the merits of Doug Marrone, the new Buffalo Bills head coach.
“He believes in this – he’ll use a player’s skills to put them into position to have success,” Edwards said Sunday in a telephone interview. “He believes in developing players.
“Brandon Moore still plays guard for the Jets. When we got Brandon, he was a defensive tackle. I told Brandon, ‘You’re going to start being trained to be an offensive guard. And it might take a year, but Doug Marrone can you make you a guard.’
“Brandon went over to the World League, as well as remaining with us. And the next year he was our starting guard.”
Ten seasons later, Moore still is.
“Doug knows how to develop players,” Edwards said.
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The coaching history of new Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone:
2009-12 Head coach, Syracuse University
2006-08 Offensive coordinator, New Orleans Saints
2002-05 Offensive line, New York Jets
2001 Tight ends/tackles, University of Tennessee
2000 Offensive line, University of Georgia
1997-99 Offensive line, Georgia Tech
1996 Tight ends, Georgia Tech
1995 Director of football operations, Georgia Tech
1994 Offensive line, Northeastern University
1993 Offensive line, U.S. Coast Guard Academy
1992 Tight ends, Cortland State