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Doug Marrone: O-line continuity an overrated concept

By Tim Graham

One of the joys of covering a new head coach is learning how he thinks. As various situations unfold or problems arise, we find out how he likes to address them.

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone today revealed he disagrees with a time-worn football chestnut.

He claimed offensive-line continuity is overrated.

Marrone played offensive line and coached that unit with the New York Jets when Curtis Martin led the league in rushing. Marrone has been a hands-on O-line instructor throughout the summer.

"It's a position I coached for a very long time," Marrone said. "I'm not as sold as much on the continuity factor than what other people may be. That has never been my type of philosophy.

"I've always wanted to put the best five players in there. ... I think as long as they can communicate and they can go on the field and do their job, that's what really creates the continuity. That's the way I've always pretty much played them."

The Bills have a degree of continuity. At least three-fifths of their offensive linemen -- center Eric Wood, left tackle Cordy Glenn and right guard Kraig Urbik-- are back from last year and should start Sunday's season opener against the New England Patriots.

A fourth incumbent, right tackle Erik Pears, missed practice today with an ankle injury. New left guard Colin Brown has held down the position since shortly after the start of training camp.

But Marrone said he doesn't want to emphasize continuity as a keystone.

"I sometimes look at words and some things that could be conceived or represented as an excuse," Marrone said, "and I think that I just don't believe in that."

Marrone explained he prefers using the five best linemen even if that means jumbling their positions rather than plugging a backup at one spot and leaving a better backup from another spot on the sideline.

"For me, when I was an O-line coach," Marrone said of listening to pro-forma reasoning, "the one philosophy is, 'If someone gets hurt, let's put him in there because we don't want to make double moves because of continuity.'

"I would sit there and say, 'Well, wait a minute. If the double move is the best move out there, why wouldn't you make the double move?'

"You want the five best players out there, and it's my job to get them ready during the week. It's my job to get them ready during the season, to make sure they have the continuity."


Colin Brown | Cordy Glenn | Doug Marrone | Eric Wood | Erik Pears | Kraig Urbik
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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 |