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Syracuse alum Tom Coughlin sad to see Doug Marrone go

By Jay Skurski

INDIANAPOLIS -- New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin is a Syracuse Orange from way back. The Super Bowl-winning coach played halfback for the Orange in the 1960s, and has been a supporter of the program ever since.

So Coughlin was disappointed when the Buffalo Bills picked Doug Marrone to be their new head coach.

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Mike Pettine otherwise would've been Doug Marrone's bogeyman

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- If Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone hadn't hired him away from the New York Jets to be his defensive coordinator, then Marrone probably would've despised Mike Pettine.

Marrone on Friday explained his rationale in targeting Pettine.

"What attracts you to people, especially on the opposite side of the ball," Marrone said Friday at the NFL scouting combine, "are people that you would not like to face or you would not like to play against or people that give you problems. Schematically, that defense has always done that."

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Wide Right left new Jaguars GM David Caldwell out in the cold

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- David Caldwell grew up a Buffalo Bills fan, and it stung.

"I still remember where I was when the kick went wide right," the new Jacksonville Jaguars general manager said today at the NFL scouting combine. "I was at a party, and we just went outside and sat in the snow to numb the pain."

Caldwell, from West Seneca, is part of an amazing sports story sparked by the Bills' Super Bowl years. Those teams fueled a football passion that has driven some local kids to prominent positions.

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Polian says Marrone 'absolutely' right man; now get him a QB

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Polian, lover of the Doug Marrone hiring, tapped the brakes when asked if the Buffalo Bills can be playoff contenders right away under their new head coach.

Polian is on the Bills' Wall of Fame for putting together a roster that went to four straight Super Bowls. He has been a Marrone booster for years, linked by their high school alma mater, Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx.

But Polian warned Bills fans to keep their expectations in check.

Continue reading "Polian says Marrone 'absolutely' right man; now get him a QB" »

Doug Marrone to NFLers who want Syracuse intel: Pound salt

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- When the Buffalo Bills interviewed Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib at the Senior Bowl, his former -- and possibly future -- head coach was in the room.

Doug Marrone sat there and didn't ask a thing.

"Because if I asked him a question, I knew how he'd answer it," Marrone said today at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium. "It would be hard for me to ask him a question without laughing."

Marrone is in an interesting situation, coming from Syracuse to the Bills. He possesses intimate knowledge on Syracuse and Big East Conference players in this year's draft class. Four from the Orange -- Nassib, receiver Alec Lemon, tackle Justin Pugh and safety Shamarko Thomas -- are participating in the combine.

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Mike Mayock: 2013 draft class lacks difference-makers in top 10, QB class has holes

By Jay Skurski

INDIANAPOLIS -- NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock is impressed with the depth of the 2013 draft class, but sees holes in a couple of key areas particulary of interest to the Buffalo Bills.

“The top end of the draft, the top 10 picks, I don’t see the difference makers like we’ve had the last several years,” Mayock said on a conference call. “I think the quick snapshot of this draft is more depth. Not quite the difference makers at the top end and a whole lot of holes in the quarterbacking class.”

With the eighth overall pick – and a stated desire by General Manager Buddy Nix to take a quarterback – Mayock’s beliefs don’t match up especially well with the Bills’ situation.

Here's what Mayock had to say when asked if the Bills should draft a quarterback at No. 8, or consider a linebacker.

Continue reading "Mike Mayock: 2013 draft class lacks difference-makers in top 10, QB class has holes" »

Doug Marrone still not ready to reveal what 2013 Bills will look like

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone has spent the past seven weeks evaluating his players, but he's still not ready to share much information about what his team will look like in 2013.

Marrone, meeting with reporters today at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium, still is reluctant to divulge any details of significance because he said, "I really believe in face-to-face and being able to reach out or smell the breath or touch somebody" before he reaches any conclusions.

"It's not that I'm trying to put anyone off," Marrone said. "Watching the tape's just a part of the process. If I was going to talk about evaluation of a player, I would do it right in front of him first, face-to-face.

"I'm not going to be able to do that when the players report. What I'm going to have to do is be able to build a foundation of our three systems of offense, defense and special teams and start working with those players on the field. And then, even when they're on the field, you're in shorts and T-shirts and football's a contact game.

"It's not as easy as watching the tape and saying, 'Let's go.' You want to watch them play football in the [systems] you do."

Marrone has drawn up the team's offseason workout schedule and personally released it to reporters.

  • Voluntary offseason conditioning: April 2-5; April 8-11; April 22-25; April 29-May 2; May 6-9.
  • Voluntary veteran minicamp: April 16-18
  • Voluntary workouts (organized team activities): May 13-15; May 20-21; May 23; May 28-31.
  • Mandatory minicamp: June 11-13.

The collective-bargaining agreement allows the Bills to hold extra voluntary workouts for veteran players because they have a new head coach.

"You get a couple of extra days to go out there and run around a little bit," Marrone said. "I think it helps. We're about 80 percent done offensively and defensively on our cut-ups, on our playbooks and all the things that we need to make sure that we're prepared for when our players come in.

"Yes, it's a little bit better that we're able to be on the field a little bit, but also we have a foundation to teach schematically in all three phases."

Former Bills captain George Wilson finds a home with Titans

By Jay Skurski

Former Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson has found a job with the Tennessee Titans.

Wilson, 31, served as a defensive captain for the Bills last season and was an NFL Players' Association team representative. He started all 16 games and finished second on the team with 104 tackles. Wilson, however, registered zero "big plays," finishing the year without an interception, sack, forced fumble or fumble recovery.

His release saved the team $2.925 million against the salary cap.

"George is a quality, veteran player," Titans General Manager Ruston Webster said in a statement released by the team. "He will contribute for us on the field, but his contributions also will come off the field, in the locker room and in the meetings rooms.

"He was respected as a football player and a leader during his career in Buffalo, and he will bring that veteran presence to our team."

Buddy Nix: Wacky sideshow won't hurt how Bills rate Manti Te'o

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix probably can speak more authoritatively about telegrams than Facebook and catfishing.

Yet Nix can talk with confidence about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o as a football player.

"He's a good player," Nix told reporters Thursday at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium. "He's a guy that can come in and help you early. I think he's a three-down player."

Continue reading "Buddy Nix: Wacky sideshow won't hurt how Bills rate Manti Te'o" »

Rex Ryan respectful when speaking of Mike Pettine, Bills

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Rex Ryan dialed back his usual bluster.

Rarely afraid to playfully hurl trash talk about is friends, the New York Jets head coach was diplomatic Thursday when discussing new Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Pettine turned down an in-season offer to extend his contract with the Jets and eventually became Bills head coach Doug Marrone's defensive coordinator.

At the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium, I asked Ryan how his old pal can impact the Bills' defense. Pettine left the Baltimore Ravens with Ryan to join the Jets in 2009.

Continue reading "Rex Ryan respectful when speaking of Mike Pettine, Bills" »

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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 |