Doug Marrone, former coach of the Syracuse Orange and Buffalo Bills, will apparently get an interview for the vacant New York Giants head-coaching job this weekend. Marrone has a solid coaching record, but he is a controversial, enigmatic figure. Let's take a closet look at him.
Marrone, 51, has head coaching experience, and there is little doubt he has done a good job during both of his tenures as the top man. He went 25-25 at won two bowl games in four years at Syracuse University (2009-2012), which sounds mediocre but is deceptively good. In the four years prior to Marrone's tenure, the Orange went 10-37. In the three years since, they have gone 14-23. Marrone went 15-17 in two years with the Buffalo Bills (2013-14), but the 9-7 record he led them to in 2014 was the Bills' first winning season since 2004.
Marrone has an extensive offensive background. He was New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator from 2006-2008 and has been an offensive line coach at several collegiate and NFL stops.
It seems like everywhere he goes Marrone leaves behind scorched earth. He apparently did not tell his Syracuse players when he chose to leave for the Bills, leaving bad blood there. Despite getting the Bills pointed in the right direction, he exercised an opt-out clause in his contract after the second season. There were some Buffalo players who were happy to see Marrone leave. Marcel Dareus called Marrone "anal" and said he cared about "little stupid things. The funny part of that is it makes Marrone sound like the coach who just exited the Giants stage left.
Still, Marrone cuts a controversial figure. He is also not exactly media friendly. If you hire him you are banking on him learning from past mistakes and getting better in the areas of media and player relationships. Much like Tom Coughlin did.
Brian Galliford of SB Nation's Buffalo Rumblings watched Marrone coach the Buffalo Bills for two years, then unexpectedly bolt. Galliford has some strong feelings about Marrone and expresses them below.
I always thought Marrone was out of his element in that role, for several reasons.
He came into the job likening it to a CEO role, where you're not micro-managing everything and instead running the whole ship, but he never really followed through with that. He still essentially coached the offensive line by himself - he'd spend copious amounts of time with that unit during training camp practices - and left his defensive coordinators to themselves, at least as far as fans could tell. If you read some comments from his former players (Marcell Dareus specifically), he'd focus on random, meaningless details and lose sight of the big picture.
Marrone is terrible with media. That doesn't speak to his coaching abilities, but his personality - he seems very much like a gruff, irritable person. I lost count of the number of times that he'd grow frustrated with a line of questioning and huff and puff his way through a response. Tim Graham of The Buffalo News has said repeatedly that Marrone demanded a meeting with him, then reprimanded him for being too critical of the team. Again, that's not a knock on his coaching ability at all; he just seems a bit like a guy that doesn't handle things not going his way very well.
To that end, his opting out of his Bills contract reinforces the idea that he might not handle any sort of adversity the way you'd want your head coach to. He left a Bills ownership that really liked him, for reasons unknown. Buffalo wanted to keep him.
Regarding his coaching ability, he's very conservative, despite his telling everybody the opposite when he was hired. He punted just, like, so many times from inside opponents' territory. It was crazy. The Bills committed a lot of penalties in 2014, but then, they committed even more under Rex Ryan this year, so maybe Marrone's team was unusually disciplined. He brought in Nathaniel Hackett to run his offense, and while it was fine conceptually, it never adapted to the players on hand, and was promptly run into the ground. Buffalo's offense was terrible when he left. The defense improved dramatically on his watch, but again, most of that credit goes to the two coordinators he hired, Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz.
I might be biased, because the team I follow has already employed him as a head coach, but: were my team interviewing head coaching candidates, Marrone wouldn't be the guy I'd want to see win the gig. Every coaching candidate has his flaws, but Marrone's are a bit too worrying for my taste.
Sean Keeley of the outstanding SB Nation Syracuse website, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, penned an excellent piece about Marrone. Here is part of it:
A couple years later, two things seem pretty clear to me.
1. Doug Marrone's fan reputation is in the toilet (though this ESPN piece does much to try and repair it).
2. Doug Marrone's reputation in NFL front office circles is still stellar.
And why shouldn't it be? Say what you will about how he left Buffalo but he turned them into a winner before he left. And you can question his work at Syracuse but he took a program that was so bad it would be an insult to dumpster fires to refer to it as a dumpster fire and turned it into a respectable team that went to bowl games regularly. ...
What's Doug Marrone's crime? He's maybe not a nice guy? He's a bit of an enigma? He plays things close to his chest? Well give me a mean coach who goes 8-5 over a great guy who goes 4-8 every year for the rest of my Syracuse fandom life.
The Giants are interviewing Marrone on Saturday, which means there is a possibility he could be the team's next head coach. So, Keeley's piece is worth your time.