I know, I've had like 20 Q&As in the past week on the site. Hey, it makes my job easier when I don't have to do much. The Bills have a new coach and I can only imagine that you guys are googling as much info about him as your computer can handle. Well, google no longer. This is the first of two Q&As I will have about Doug Marone. For this one, we are joined by Sean Keeley from SB Nation's Syracuse site to talk about Marrone's stint there. Later today, I'll have a Q&A up about his days in New Orleans from a Saints writer.
1) What are the pros/cons for Doug Marrone as a coach?
Marrone clearly has a grasp on the NFL-style offense and how to put the weapons in place to make it work. He's done well hiring assistants that can fill in the gaps around his expertise but he's also not afraid to get his handy dirty and work closely with specific units, such as offensive line and special teams. If Doug has some negatives, his clock management and in-game decision making still felt like a work in progress. He's gotten much better than he was in his first year but he still makes some questionable decisions from time to time.
2) The Bills best offensive weapon is CJ Spiller. He averaged over 6 yards a carry this year and has the ability to take it to the house on any given play. He catches the ball well and speed is his best attribute. How do you see someone like Marrone using him?
Given Marrone's interest in spreading things out, speeding things up and opening up the offense, Spiller would be a great tool for him to work with. Expect to see a lot of catches out of the backfield as Marrone likes the short pass and expect to see Spiller get plenty of opportunities to make a big play. Marrone does like to pound the ball on the ground but the most important thing for him is a QB that can run his offense. From that position will come everything else.
3) Do you think Marrone can make the transition to the pro game?
Absolutely. Much of his experience before Syracuse was in the NFL and the rumor has been for a long time that had he not gone to Syracuse, he would have been an NFL head coach by now. We just hoped his interest in reviving Syracuse lasted longer than it actually did. I think so long as Marrone has a quality defensive coordinator that he can delegate to, his offensive mind and HC experience will put him on the right path.
4) How is he as a gameday manager and a leader?
I find that Doug is a much better gameday coach than he used to be but he still has some kinks to work out. He makes some questionable calls on critical plays and there have been more than one occasion when time management has been an issue. Still, I've seen much worse.
As for his leadership, you can draw a direct line to the moment when Marrone started getting emotional on the sidelines and when Syracuse put it all together this season. He started to inspire his players and they were clearly responding to him much more. He seems to have realized he can't be an emotionless piece of granite over there, he's got some emote.
5) How does he view defense? Does he seem to let his coaches delegate or is he hands on?
From my understanding, he basically gave Scott Shafer free reign at Syracuse. Syracuse's current D-line coach and LB coach both worked with Shafer at Western Michigan and Marrone even let go of SU alum Dan Conley in order to make room for them. The DB coach, Donnie Henderson, is a Marrone hire for sure, but otherwise, Shafer ran the show. So long as he kept doing a good job, no reason to interfere.
6) How do Syracuse fans view him?
Well, today's emotion's aside, Syracuse fans really don't have much of a case to complain about the job he did here. He took over a program that was in ruins and he basically rebuilt it, rebuilt the recruiting base and returned the program to a place where it should be. Four years ago, Syracuse was a basement-dweller. Now we're a perennial bowl team. Hard to complain about that.
7) Should the Bills haved hired him?
My honest opinion is that I understand why an NFL team like the Bills would want to hire Marrone but I think he needs another 1-2 years in the college ranks to "simmer." He's got some in-game issues to work out and I just feel like he's bound for NFL glory one day, but today is just a little too soon. For the Bills' sake, hopefully I'm wrong. I'll certainly be rooting for him to succeed.