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Bills get good grades for hiring Marrone as next head coach

Rochester Business Journal
January 11, 2013

Nearly two-thirds of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll give the hiring of Doug Marrone as Buffalo Bills head coach a grade of A or B. Only 7 percent of readers give the team a failing grade.

Marrone, 48, replaces Chan Gailey, who was fired New Year’s Eve. Marrone spent the last four years as head coach at Syracuse University, his alma mater. He also has seven years of NFL coaching experience, including three years as offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints and a four-year stint as the offensive line coach of the New York Jets. For two of the three years when he ran the Saints’ offense, it ranked No. 1 in the National Football League.

The hiring of Marrone is the first major move by St. John Fisher College graduate Russ Brandon since team owner Ralph Wilson promoted Brandon to president and CEO and gave him full authority over the entire organization’s operations.

Four out of five respondents view Brandon’s promotion as a positive for the team.

The Bills were 6-10 in the 2012 season and missed the NFL playoffs for the 13th consecutive year.

Some 505 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Jan. 7 and 8.

How do you grade the hiring of Doug Marrone as Buffalo Bills head coach?
A: 26% 
B: 37% 
C: 22% 
D: 9% 
F: 7% 

How do you view Russ Brandon’s promotion to president and CEO, giving him full authority over the team’s operations?
Very positive: 34% 
Somewhat positive: 47% 
Somewhat negative: 14% 
Very negative: 6% 

COMMENTS:

We anticipate the Russ Brandon-Doug Marrone combination to yield big dividends for the Bills and look forward to making next year’s playoffs.
—Victor E. Salerno, CEO, O’Connell Electric Co. Inc.

It’s hard to figure that Mr. Marrone could be the best choice with a record of 25 wins and 25 losses. Syracuse is not a top national football powerhouse, and his pro experience is minimal. Is his hiring another cost-saving idea? I wish Russ Brandon all the luck in the world when he starts with this kind of change.
—Ken Pamatat, Creative Images

We have a great opportunity to attract world-class talent to a truly struggling team—and we get an inexpensive coach. Why not Lovie Smith, Andy Reid or Jon Gruden? It makes me sad to think that we “think small.” Would Jim Kelly think small or second-rate?
—John Cogan, CEO, Vantage Benefits Group

Doug Marrone deserves credit for turning around the Syracuse program, which was all but irrelevant just a few years ago. His record at Syracuse is deceiving when you consider the first few years were spent stocking a cupboard that was completely bare. Most notably, he was able to develop game plans and schemes that matched his players’ capability instead of just pursuing some ideological playbook—more than I can say for Chan. He is a solid coach who will bring discipline and consistency to Buffalo.
—Drew Reagan, Modular Comfort Systems

As an SU grad, (I think) it is sad to see Doug Marrone go. The program is on the upswing, and we hope someone can fill his shoes with the same approach to the game. As a Bills fan, I believe there were better choices as far as NFL head coaching experience, but if Doug can deliver the same message he did at Syracuse, get the team to buy in to his program and add a few key players (Russ will help with that), I see a winning record in three years.
—Daryl Wolf, SU class of ’78

Marrone can’t rig his schedule in the NFL in order to bolster his record (where he only managed 7-6). Syracuse is a second-/third-tier football school, and they aren’t very good at that level. Well I guess we get what we pay for, and my only hope is that all Bills games will be blacked out next year so I can watch good games.
—Cliff Milligan

They hired Marrone probably because he was the “cheapest” they could get. Owners aren’t serious about being contenders again. It’s all about revenue. All the coaches since Marv Levy have been poor choices. Russ Brandon’s promotion is laughable, too. What has he done to make the franchise better since he has been involved? Sad, sad, sad. They ought to sell the team to the fans. Let it be a publicly traded stock like Green Bay; maybe then priorities will change for the better.
—Bob Evans

Of course time will tell, but at least Marrone is not one of those NFL retreads; those guys are not going to help.
—David Lamb

The Brandon move reminds me of some of the local corporate changes historically announced with great fanfare, and it’s just the same birds in the birdcage switching perches. Between (former team president Tom) Donahoe and (former head coach Marv) Levy, Russ was given some “football” responsibilities, I seem to recall. How did that turn out? Marrone’s revamping SU is not in the same universe as the Bills’ task. For practical insights about pro personnel challenges in the NFL, John Feinstein’s book “Next Man Up” is very informative.
—Jerry McCabe, Irondequoit

Marrone could be a great choice or the next in a series of mediocre coaches. At least he is not a retread like Gailey and (former head coach Dick) Jauron. But he will need better players to be successful. Brandon has been part of the management team that has turned out one bad football team after another. We will now find out if the organization has been handicapped by ownership or their own incompetence. I suspect the latter. Overall, I’m not enthusiastic about these moves.
—Dennis Ditch

Donald Duck would be an improvement over Chan Gailey. Suggest you wait a year before rating Marrone.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield

I’m hopeful. Both Sean Payton and Herm Edwards spoke highly of Marrone, as have others. I’m not certain about Brandon, as he has just received the title to the position he effectively held for years. Maybe not so much of a change—and we need change here. Let’s see how the coaching staff develops and the draft goes. We have good players; now we need coaches!
—Don Dorschel

Could they have done better than Marrone? Certainly. But could they have done worse? Absolutely. At least they did not hire another “retread” who had limited success in the NFL and expect them to be successful in Buffalo. What amazes me is that they interviewed more than three to five candidates and made a decision in less than a week. Not sure if that is great due diligence! I hope they were interviewing prior to the firing of Chan and were not forced into making a hasty decision.
—Gary M. Baker, president, Cochran, Cochran & Yale

Hopefully Marrone will turn out to be a diamond in the rough. He is substance over form (big-name) pick. Let’s be honest: Buffalo didn’t have a lot of options. Tough to recruit a big name into this market. In my view, Russ Brandon is a solid, smart guy who is trying to bring Buffalo into the new age of football. Time will tell the tale of how successful he will be now that he has the reins!
—P.J. Guisto, managing partner, JC Jones & Associates LLC

The mark, B, and being somewhat positive will go up or down depending on 1) the staff he assembles; 2) how he handles our free agents; 3) the draft; and 4) what he does with Fitzpatrick. Turnaround can come quickly in the NFL, but it is usually driven by the quarterback.
—Rich Mileo

The Bills are due for some luck. Perhaps Mr. Marrone will bring it. I'd like to hear Jim Kelly's opinion.
—Greg Reynolds East Rochester
Actually, the Bills should be allowed to move on out of the area. We keep paying for their stadium and their management can't put together anything other than an embarrassment of a team. As for the personnel changes? Who knows they're all wild cards with low probability of success.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

1/11/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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