Inside The Bills

Marrone: best midterm 1st year coach

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2013 – 9:34 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is one of seven new head coaches in the league this season. At the midway mark of the 2013 campaign, ‘Sports on Earth’ decided to grade the performances of the seven rookie sideline bosses. Marrone earned the best grade of them all.

‘Sports on Earth’ gave Marrone an A- grade for the first half of his first season as head coach of the Bills. Here was their synopsis on Marrone and his Bills squad.

DOUG MARRONE, Buffalo Bills

Good Wins: All three wins (Panthers, Ravens, Dolphins) came against competitive teams.

Bad Losses: None. The Browns were very competitive during the brief Brian Hoyer oasis, the Jets are no joke and the Bills competed well with the Saints.

Quarterback Situation: B+. Marrone had EJ Manuel ready to play despite a short training camp and has milked everything possible from Thad Lewis. Marrone avoided the pitfall of rushing “established” backups like Matt Leinart or Matt Flynn into the lineup.

State of the Defense: A. Mike Pettine’s Jets-flavored scheme has turned the Bills defense around. Mario Williams is suddenly an All Pro again, while Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus are playing to their potential. Kiko Alonso and Jim Leonhard make the pass defense dangerous over the middle of the field.

Coping Skills/Long-Range Vision: A. The entire Bills quarterback situation has been a crisis management exercise since the start of camp. C.J. Spiller’s on-and-off status has only put more pressure on the quarterbacks. From Manuel to Alonso to Robert Woods, rookies and new faces are everywhere.

Strategy Corner:

No Huddle Percentage: 33%. At their fastest, the Bills can give Chip Kelly’s Eagles a run for their money.

Real Run-Pass Ratio: Run 50%, Pass 50%. Now that’s balance. Keep in mind that most modern coaches think of “balance” as something close to a 40-60 run-pass split. But most coaches do not have two very good running backs and an emergency quarterback to cope with. Even when Manuel returns, Marrone may remain a new-school, up-tempo-rushing strategist.

Fourth Down Aggressiveness: Low. Marrone has punted on a handful of short yardage situations near midfield. Again, a little distrust in his offense may be prudent at this point.

Trending: Sideways (C). Staving off a total collapse under a third-string quarterback has been an accomplishment.

Midterm Grade: A-. If Manuel had been healthy since the start of training camp, Marrone would be out-chipping Chip Kelly right now. From his fast-paced attack to his weekly rap sessions with team captains, Marrone is a progressive thinker. He and Pettine have installed distinctive schemes and game plans that give opponents trouble. All that is missing is a healthy, experienced quarterback, plus a few more bodies at key positions.


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