Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Preview: Doug Marrone

by Steve

Holy smokes, the Buffalo Bills open training camp in less than a week!  So I better start breaking things down and preview this probably pathetic team for you.  Let's start right at the top with novice head coach Doug Marrone.

I still have no clue who Doug Marrone is and no one knows how he's going to be as an NFL ('scuse me National Football League) head coach.  He's 48, slowly worked his way up the coaching food chain via stops at tiny colleges, NFL assistant coach jobs and of course as Syracuse head coach.

At Syracuse (a Big East school at the time) he went 25-25 which includes five wins against illustrious power houses like Maine, Colgate, Stony Brook and Rhode Island.  He went 4-5 against ranked opponents and the teams best non conference win was either v Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl (2010) or @ Missouri in 2012.  Not exactly Jim Harbaugh or even Chip Kelly's resume.

So clearly the guy can't recruit college talent but thankfully he doesn't have to in the NFL, that's the other Doug's job.  What makes this guy qualified to be a head coach in the biggest sports league on the planet?  I just can't give this guy the benefit of the doubt coming from Mediocre Syracuse and with this franchise's history.

Maybe if he was coaching at a power house football program or even a respectable conference I'd cut him some slack because he's coached against a lot of talent.  But a .500 record in conference that just disintegrated because it was such a pathetic football conference?

Then again his past doesn't mean all that much in reality.  It all comes down to how his offense performs and how he grooms and develops one Erik James "EJ" Manuel.  Let's face it, Kevin Kolb isn't leading this team any where.  That fact may not even have much to do with Kolb's talent and more to do with circumstance.  He is injury prone, the offense will be run based (at least initially) the wide receivers aren't any older than the corps Marrone had at 'cuse last season and Manuel was drafted in the first round.

Unless Kolb lights up the Patriots, Jets and Ravens early on in the season it is going to be Erik's team and Marrone's job to make him succeed. Marrone in all likelihood will live and die in Buffalo with Manuel unless he turns out to be absolute garbage (meaning in 2015 the Bills are looking to draft another QB). But, if Manuel is absolute garbage then that falls on Doug Whaley who also hired Marrone (who will certainly have a bad record by then) and at that point everything comes into question.  Then again I can picture it now, "oh but it was Buddy Nix who was around when Marrone was hired and Nix was around when Manuel was drafted!" FML

Ok ok I'm getting ahead of myself.  All I'm saying is Kolb better come out hotter than shit or Manuel better be the read deal or it will be nearly impossible for Marrone to be a winner. His job is the offense and in the NFL offense now wins championships. This offense better improve dramatically.

The first thing we can actually judge Dougy M. on is his coaching staff he's compiled.  Surprisingly I sorta like what he has done.  Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is saying a lot of the right stuff and was successful with the Jets.  How much he had in building those defenses can certainly be questioned but he has to deserve at least some credit. The special teams coach (Danny Crossman) is anyone other than Bruce DeHaven which is good. 

On offense he brought in his crony from the Orange, Nate Hackett. This guy is more of a question mark than Pettine and better not require us to call him Nathaniel cause I ain't. He's young and has obviously worked with young QBs (see Ryan Nassib [who the Bills thankfully did not draft]) so those are positives.  He has the pedigree (his dad Paul has worked in the NFL) and has worked in the NFL albeit briefly. Basically, I'm willing to give Hackett a chance just as long as he doesn't ruin Manuel single handily by the end of training camp.

At this point in my Bills fandom I've seen everything fail EXCEPT for going young at every position, having a lot of people named Doug in charge and not truly knowing what to expect. I guess technically this doesn't HAVE to fail, right? Right?!?

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