Just minutes ago, Doug Marrone informed the Buffalo Bills organization that he is opting out of the final two years of his contract. Marrone is now a free agent and will be allowed to interview with any interested teams searching for a coach. I am surprised to see this happen. The former Syracuse coach had finished with his first winning record in his two seasons and many believed the team was heading in the right direction. Marrone has abandoned ship though. Time to break down what this means for Buffalo and other teams looking land a coach.
I will start with Marrone. I am hearing that the division rival Jets are the front-runners to land his services. Personally, I do not really like the idea. If we saw nothing from his time in Buffalo, we saw Marrone struggled to develop a quarterback, specifically E.J. Manuel, eventually benching him for Kyle Orton. The Jets have a struggling young signal caller in Geno Smith who likely will stay with the team this year and will need some serious coaching during the offseason and beyond to salvage his career in New York. The kid has shown some glimpses of potential but overall he has been a below average quarterback. However, with few other options available, this should be a last chance for the organization to work with Smith to see if he is working keeping around. I do not think Marrone is the right coach to oversee this reclamation project so I think the Jets should look elsewhere.
I think Marrone is better suited to spend a year as a coordinator in the NFL or move back to college. There are not any college jobs open at the moment as most organizations who fired their head coach have found his replacement already. The only other place I think Marrone would maybe be a fit for is Atlanta. The Falcons have a proven quarterback and desperately need help on the defensive side of the ball. Marrone helped form a top-five defense in Buffalo this year. He could be a good fit for a Falcons organization in need of fresh start with a man who has previous head coaching experience. Atlanta is an improved defense away from making some noise in the NFC next season.
As for the Bills, I think the front office should immediately bring in Mike Smith for an interview. From Smith’s time in Atlanta, it is obvious he knows how to orchestrate a top-flight offense. He will not have a ton of options to improve through the draft this year as Buffalo traded away its first round pick in the deal that landed them Sammy Watkins. Smith would have some pieces to work with though in Watkins, C.J. Spiller and Robert Woods. The offense needs a little retooling and an upgrade at quarterback to make the jump to the playoffs. I think Smith could be the guy to run Buffalo’s offense. It makes sense for the former Falcons boss to choose the Bills too because of the defense already in place. Atlanta struggled so much this season because of the woes it had on defense. Smith will not run into that in Buffalo.
In short, Buffalo and Atlanta should swap coaches. I think that would be the best-case scenario for both teams. I just do not see Marrone as a fit for New York. His lack of a track record with quarterbacks makes me think that he might not be the best man for the job. It will be interesting to see where Marrone goes and I do not see him staying on the market for very long. Let me know if you think you know where Marrone will end up or who you think should coach Buffalo.