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Bills interview Chip Kelly, Doug Marrone and Lovie Smith

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills late Friday night (as in really late, like four minutes until this morning) confirmed they met with Oregon coach Chip Kelly, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith about their head coaching vacancy.

That brings to five the number of candidates the team has formally interviewed, joining former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and current Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton earlier this week.

Kelly, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, met with the Cleveland Browns for more than seven hours Friday. He's also scheduled to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles today, before having another meeting with the Browns. NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport reported Friday night that Cleveland was nearing an agreement with the coach.

Kelly, 48, improved his record to 46-7 over four seasons at Oregon with a 35-17 win over Kansas State in Thursday's Fiesta Bowl. Over that time, his spread offense has averaged more than 44 points per game, including nearly 50 per game (49.6) this season, while the Ducks have made four BCS bowl game appearances.

Marrone, also 48, has gone 25-25 over four seasons at Syracuse, helping turn around a program that was 10-37 prior to his arrival. Marrone also has NFL experience, having served as the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints under Sean Payton for three seasons from 2006-08.

Like Kelly, Marrone also has interviewed with the Cleveland Browns, and is reportedly on the radar of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Smith, 54, is a much different candidate than Marrone and Smith in that he's got vast NFL head coaching experience, compiling an 81-63 record over the last nine seasons with the Chicago Bears. He's also a defensive-minded head coach, which could be attractive to a Bills team that has been historically bad on that side of the ball during Chan Gailey's just-concluded three-year run as coach.

Smith took the Bears to one Super Bowl and made two NFC title game appearances in his nine years.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |