By Tim Graham
Doug Marrone's first impression didn't rate too highly, based on a poll of reporters who've covered the introductory news conference for each brand-spanking-new head coach during the Buffalo Bills' playoff drought.
Based solely on first impression, the consensus was:
- 1. Gregg Williams
- 2. Mike Mularkey
- 3. Chan Gailey
- 4. Doug Marrone
- 5. Dick Jauron
So what does a first impression mean, anyway? Apparently not much.
Marrone delivered a reassuring message about being the right man for the job, repeatedly stating he played in the NFL, coached in the NFL and has been through a turnaround before.
He certainly didn't share enough particulars to appease Bills fans, who've been as patient as Job and want to know what their rebooted team will look like in 2013.
Marrone didn't get too deep into how his coaching staff would be assembled, what he looks for in a quarterback, what he thinks about any of the current players, whether he'll run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense or if he has full control over deciding who makes the 53-man roster.
But here are some highlights and observations from this afternoon news conference at One Bills Drive:
• In Russ Brandon's opening remarks, the team president said, "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 championship contender. We believe we did just that after Buddy Nix, Doug Whaley, Jim Overdorf and myself went through a thorough, exhaustive and exhilarating search in hiring the right man to build the future and the culture to a winning franchise."
• Marrone, who was offensive coordinator for the Saints, announced he will not call plays for the Bills. "But everything will go through me," he said. "Everything is game planned, offense, defense and special teams."
• Regarding his top assistants, Marrone said, "Obviously, with the coordinators, we want people that have thorough NFL experience, as far as especially on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, we want people with NFL experience. For our coordinators, we want to make sure they've been in this league."
• Marrone said his four years at Syracuse prepared him for being an NFL head coach.
"When I was in the NFL and I was the offensive coordinator in New Orleans, I would look at the seat of the head coach. I would say to myself, 'I'm ready for this.' But that's where I appreciate my experience at Syracuse. From a managing style for myself and things I learned about being a head coach."
• In answering a question about whether he would be willing to start a rookie quarterback, Marrone replied, "My stance on players at every position, whether it be quarterback, defensive line or whatever it might be, is we will play the best players that give us the best chance to win."
• Marrone didn't give any insight as to what the Bills' proposed analytics department will do, but said he relied on analytics at Syracuse. "We've been using that quite a bit with our team," he said. "We used that at New Orleans. We want to be innovative. We want to use that to be on the cutting edge, to push us forward. Again, it's part of what we do, part of our planning, part of our process."
• Brandon said, "Our coach was a leading candidate in more than a few organizations." I have a difficult time believing that. One? OK. Two? Perhaps. More than a few? Nyet.
• On whether Brandon's roots in Syracuse and his ties to the university played a role in Marrone's hiring, Brandon replied, "I didn't care if he was the coach at the University of Tahiti. ... That's a legitimate question, obviously, him being from Syracuse. But our focus was on the best man for the job."
• Buddy Nix on why the Bills didn't speak with assistants who competed this weekend (coaches from wild-card playoff teams aren't allowed to interview until after the first round): "If you did that, then you lose the guy you want. We could have gone another day and we would have been starting over. We knew the guy we wanted when we interviewed him, and there he is. So why go any further?"
• Among the notables in attendance at the news conference were Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas, special-teams legend Steve Tasker, former Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown and running back Fred Jackson.