To cap off one of the strangest and wildest seasons in Buffalo Bills’ history, Doug Marrone opted out of his contract, stepping down as head coach of the team. There were reports throughout the year about a rising friction between Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley—primarily surrounding the handling of the quarterback position—but the move still comes as a shock.
Marrone’s conservative nature stirred up quite a bit of animosity among the fanbase, but the fact remains that he coached the Bills to their first winning season since 2004. Tim Graham of The Buffalo News reported that Marrone decided to opt out after new owner Terry Pegula declined to give him and his assistant coaches extensions. The decision by the Pegula’s to not reward one winning season is likely an intelligent one, considering how the team underachieved—particularly on offense, which was supposedly Marrone’s forte—and failed to make the playoffs.
The name that’s been floated by La Canfora and Bob Glauber as Marrone’s successor is Frank Reich, the former Bills’ quarterback who’s now the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator. Reich is well-respected around the league and his connection to the team makes him an obvious candidate for the job.
While the Bills’ only quarterbacks on the roster are EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel, with no first-round pick to find a replacement, the team is pretty loaded with talent from top-to-bottom, making the job pretty attractive from a personnel standpoint. Combine that with the fact that Terry and Kim Pegula are committed emotionally and financially into the well-being of Buffalo and the team, the questions surrounding the franchise that turned off head coaching candidates in the past shouldn’t arise this time around.
Now, the Pegula’s honeymoon is over. In addition to finding a new head coach, they’ll have to make a decision on whether Doug Whaley stays on as general manager. It’s been reported that they will look to bring in a respected and experienced outsider in as a football “czar” to assist with the football operations and Jason La Canfora is reporting that it will be Bill Polian.
La Canfora says that Polian will be named as team President in January, after he’s elected into the Hall of Fame. But while Polian is a decorated general manager with an impressive resume, his last several years with the Indianapolis Colts definitely raises some red flags. Regardless of his past player personnel decisions, Polian is one of the most-respected executives in the history of the National Football League and his connections could be an asset to the Bills’ coaching search.
Doug Marrone definitely rubbed fans the wrong way during his short-lived tenure as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, but while there are certainly major questions that need to be answered, this is a better organization—from the top down—than the one that conducted the coaching search two years ago.