It didn’t take long. After a whirlwind interview process that saw the Bills screen five candidates in the span of less than a week, Buffalo moved quickly to secure the services of Doug Marrone, who agreed to become the 16th head coach in team history.
For a candidate that was also coveted by NFL clubs, Marrone was clear that Buffalo was where he wanted to coach.
“I had some opportunities to make a choice, and I've chosen to be here,” said Marrone. “I can't tell you how excited I am to be the head football coach. I can't tell you how excited I am for my family and I to move up here. We're looking forward to it.
“I'm excited about working with the people in this organization, but I'm especially excited to be working with these players.”
Marrone, 48, interviewed with the Bills last week on more than one occasion and signed his contract with the club Monday morning at One Bills Drive. With Marrone on board, team President and CEO Russ Brandon felt they got their man.
“We promised to leave no stone unturned in leading this franchise and creating a new legacy that our fans will be proud of into the future,” said Brandon. “We wanted to identify top talent to lead this organization to where all of our fans and stakeholders deserve to be and that's back to a champinoship contender. We believe we did just that.”
Bills GM Buddy Nix told Buffalobills.com when the coaching search began that their plans to interview numerous candidates didn’t necessarily mean they would get around to interviewing them all.
“Once we say this guy fits what we want and this is the guy then we’ll sign him,” said Nix. “We won’t say, ‘Let’s go see if we can find a better one.’ If we’re happy with that guy we’ll pull the trigger.”
Marrone just felt a sense that he belonged in this role with the Bills in Buffalo.
“I feel this town and the core values here are one of the things that I look for,” he said. “I love the people here. We're going to be proud of this organization and the comfort level through this thorough process that Russ spoke about, I have compete trust in Mr. Wilson, Russ and Buddy, and the rest of the organization.
“I think at the end of the day to be successful, you have to be at the place where you're most comfortable, and I'm most comfortable here in Western New York working for these gentlemen.”
A former offensive line coach of the New York Jets under Herm Edwards, and offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints under Sean Payton, Marrone has been largely credited with turning around a wayward Syracuse Orange program. He rebuilt the program steadily over the past four years to post a pair of 8-5 seasons including the 2012 campaign.
His squad rebounded from a 2-4 start this past year to win five of their last six games counting their bowl win, a Pinstripe Bowl victory over West Virginia on Dec. 28th. It was his second bowl win with the program.
A Bronx, New York native, Marrone was a three-year letterman at Syracuse as an offensive lineman. Selected in the sixth round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Raiders, Marrone played two seasons in the NFL. His first was with the Miami Dolphins in 1987 and then with the Saints in 1989. Marrone also had stints with Pittsburgh, Dallas and Minnesota before closing his career with the NFL Europe London Monarchs (1991-92).
The highlights of Marrone’s seven years as an NFL assistant include the Saints leading the league in total offense in 2006 and 2008 while he served as offensive coordinator for New Orleans. The Saints also led the league in passing offense in 2008 when Drew Brees ranked first in passing yards (5,069). In 2007 the New Orleans offense led the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage (72%).
While serving as offensive coordinator of the Saints, Marrone worked with the Saints offensive linemen including OT Jon Stinchcomb.
“I was truly fortunate to be under Coach Marrone’s tutelage both at the University of Georgia and for three years with the New Orleans Saints,” Stinchcomb said. “In my opinion he was the best position coach that I was ever able to work with. He really had a knack and passion for the game of football, was very detail-oriented and driven to be able to coach each player into becoming the best possible player they could be. I just really appreciate everything he did for me along the way and I know I’m a much better player because of his leadership than if our paths had never crossed.”
The New York Jets finished third in the league in rushing yards with Hall of Famer Curtis Martin rolling up almost 1,700 rushing yards that season (1,697) when Marrone served as offensive line coach in 2004.
Marrone spent the first 10 years of his coaching career in the college ranks with his last three stops at Georgia Tech (1995-1999), Georgia (2000) and Tennessee (2001) before taking the Syracuse head coaching job in 2008.
The high water mark of his college coaching career, prior to being named head coach of the Orange, came in 1999 when as offensive line coach Georgia Tech the Yellow Jackets finished first nationally in total offense, averaging 509.4 yards and 40.7 points per game.
He began his coaching career at SUNY Cortland as tight ends coach in 1992.
Marrone was also being courted by the Cleveland Browns, but Brandon was confident that the opportunity Buffalo offered to a new head coach would be an enticing one.
“I think we have the best opportunity in the NFL,” he said. “I’m not saying that for newspaper clippings. We have a very robust roster, young core talent. We have a brand new lease, a renovation package going into this stadium. We have the potential for a new stadium on the horizon. We have world class people in this organization that will be very focused on one goal and have one clear direction. This is a plumb opportunity.”
One that Marrone was more than willing to accept.