Breaking Down Doug Marrone

BBD Editor Matt Elder

By now you’ve probably seen Doug Marrone’s resume so much you have it memorized. We know he spent time working under Sean Payton in New Orleans before going on to coach the Syracuse Orange. However do you know that he spent time before that with the Jets? That he was a former NFL Offensive Lineman and that he has a connection to SEC programs that GM Buddy Nix has shown an affinity for? We decided to do our due diligence and dive into Marrone’s past to see if we could get an idea of what to expect from him in Buffalo.

Doug Marrone’s Early Years:
Doug Marrone spent a lot of time bouncing around different programs shortly after his playing career ended. His first stop was with Cortland State as a TE coach, while his first notable job was in 1996 as TE Coach for Georgia Tech. Marrone spent three years at Tech going from TE Coach to OL coach in 1997 and remaining in that role through his final season in 1999. At this time I feel its important to note that Marrone did not work under Chan Gailey, there is no connection there.

In 2000 Marrone left Georgia Tech and headed to cross state rival UGA where he spent a year working under Jim Donnan. Jim Donnan was fired after that season at UGA and Marrone left the team as well. During his one year Marrone worked with future NFL offensive tackles Jonas Jennings, George Foster, and Jon Stinchcomb. All three OT’s would go on to be drafted in the top three rounds of the NFL Draft.

He didn’t fall off after he left UGA as he ended up moving on to SEC rival Tennessee working under Phil Fulmer as the TE and OT coach. While at Tennessee he worked with TE Jason Witten and helped him develop into the third round pick he would later become.

After spending a year at Tennessee the NFL came a calling and Marrone was off to his home state of New York and to become the OL Coach for the New York Jets.

Doug Marrone NFL Years:
From 2002 to 2005 Doug Marrone coached the the New York Jets offensive line. During this time the Jets were very much a run first team that featured future Hall of Famer Curtis Martin. Here is a breakdown of how Marrone’s Offensive Line faired each season.

Sacks Allowed: 32 (11th least in NFL)
Rushing Leader: RB Curtis Martin-1094 yards, 12 Rushing TD’s

Sacks Allowed: 31 (13th least in NFL)
Rushing Leader: RB Curtis Martin-1,308 yards, 8 Rushing TD’s

Sacks Allowed: 31 (7th least in NFL)
Rushing Leader: RB Curtis Martin-1,697 yards, 12 Rushing TD’s

Sacks Allowed: 53 (30th most in NFL)
Rushing Leader: RB Curtis Martin 735 yards, 5 Rushing TD’s

Marrone came to New York near the tail end of Curtis Martin’s career but that doesn’t mean we can’t draw something from these numbers. After all in 2004 Curtis Martin ran for the most yards, had his highest YPC average (4.6), and scored his second highest TD total in a single season. All of this happened behind a Marrone led offensive line.

In 2006 Sean Payton picked Doug Marrone  to become the offensive coordinator for the high flying New Orleans Saints offense. At the time of running this article its unclear how much play-calling authority Marrone had in the offense but he did work directly under Payton learning from him. Here is a breakdown of how potent the Saints offense was while Marrone was there.

New Orleans was 5th in the NFL in scoring
QB Drew Brees-356 of 554 (64.2%), 4,918 yards, 26 TD’s, 11 INT’s
RB Deuce McAllister-244 carries, 1,057 yards, 10 TD’s, 4.3 YPC
RB Reggie Bush-155 carries, 565 yards, 5 TD’s, 3.6 YPC, 88 receptions, 742 yards, 2 TD’s (receiving)
WR Marques Colston-70 catches, 1,038 yards, 8 TD’s
WR Devery Henderson-32 catches, 745 yardsm 5 TD’s
Offensive Line allowed 23 Sacks

New Orleans was 12th in scoring
QB Drew Brees-440 of 652 (67.5%), 4,423 yards, 28 TD’s, 18 INT’s
RB Reggie Bush-157 carries, 581 yards 4 TD’s, 73 receptions, 417 yards, 2 TD’s (receiving)
WR Marques Colston-98 catches, 1,202 yards, 11 TD’s
WR David Patton-54 catches, 792 yards, 3 TD’s
Offensive Line allowed 16 sacks

New Orleans was 1st in scoring
QB Drew Brees-413 of 635 (65.0%), 5,069 yards, 34 TD’s, 17 INT’s
RB Pierre Thomas-129 carries, 625 yards, 4 TD’s
RB Reggie Bush-106 carries, 404 yards, 2 TD’s, 52 catches, 440 yards, 4 TD’s
RB Deuce McAllister-107 carries, 418 yards, 5 TD’s
WR Marques Colston-47 catches, 760 yards, 5 TD’s
WR Lance Moore-79 catches, 928 yards, 10 TD’s
WR Devery Henderson-32 catches, 793 yards, 3 TD’s
TE Jeremy Shockey-50 catches, 483 yards
TE Billy Miller-45 catches, 574 yards, 1 TD
Offensive Line allowed 13 sacks

In his three years in New Orleans the team was never worse than 12th in scoring and twice finished in the Top 5. They also improved their pass protection in each of his three years going from 23 sacks to 16 to 13 in his final year. That protection in 2008 allowed for Drew Brees to challenge for Dan Marino’s single season passing yards record (that he now holds) and also allowed him to make up for the fact that he didn’t have a single 1,000 yard WR. There was a total of 11 New Orleans Saints who compiled over 100 yard receiving in 2008 including all three RB’s. This would not have been possible without stellar protection.

It’s clear to me that under Payton, Marrone saw how important it is to balance the running game, spread out the WR’s, and utilize an accurate and smart QB. You will see this same narrative carry over to his time to Syracuse in a minute. But first there are a few similarities between these Saints and our current Buffalo Bills that I think need to be made. I think Devery Henderson and TJ Graham are very similar style WR’s with big speed and limited size. If Marrone can utilize Graham the way he did Henderson you could see an explosive year out of him.

Obviously there is the Reggie Bush and CJ Spiller comparison but I also think you look at WR like Lance Moore who reminds me a lot of a poor man’s Stevie Johnson, and then you have the big play size WR we don’t yet have. I think that’s an early draft target for the Bills in April.

Lastly I do want to point out the growth and innovative changed the Saints offense underwent from Marrone’s arrival in 2006 to his departure following the 2008 season. The Saints went from a traditional pass heavy offense to one that utilized multiple WR sets, threw out of running formations, involved the RB’s in the passing game, and in Marrone’s final season worked hard to get the TE more involved in the offense. That position specifically is one Marrone has experience coaching and one could conclude that his influence was likely felt heavily here.

Doug Marrone Syracuse Head Coach:
In 2009 the Syracuse Orange reached out to one of its own and brought Doug Marrone in to resurrect a program that was a complete and utter disaster. Its hard to quantify just how far gone Syracuse was when Marrone took over but its safe to say the illustrious program was in some of its darkest days. In the three years Marrone spent at Syracuse he went 25-25 but don’t use that as a knock against him. Syracuse hadn’t had a winning season since 2001 before Marrone came aboard and from 2005 through 2008 the Orange went 10-37. Here is a breakdown of where the team was in his first year and just how far he brought it.

Total Offense Rank: 94th (330.42 ypg)
Scoring Offense Rank: 99th (21.17 ppg)
Rushing Offense Rank: 87th (126.54 ypg)
Passing Offense Rank: 78th (203.83 ypg)
Sack Allowed Rank: 79th (2.25 spg)
QB Greg Paulus-193 of 285 (67.7%), 2,024 yards, 13 TD’s, 14 INT’s
RB Delone Carter-236 carries, 1,021 yards, 11 TD’s
WR Mike Williams-49 catches, 746 yards, 6 TD’s

Total Offense Rank: 97th (322.88 ypg)
Scoring Offense Rank: 93rd (22.15 ppg)
Rushing Offense Rank: 76th (140.15 ypg)
Passing Offense Rank: 91st (182.67 ypg)
Sack Allowed Rank: 84th (2.84 spg)
QB Ryan Nassib-202 of 358 (56.4%), 2,334 yards, 19 TD’s, 8 INT’s
RB Delone Carter-221 carries, 1,233 yards, 9 TD’s
RB Antwan Bailey-35 catches, 305 yards, 3 TD’s (receiving)

Total Offense Rank: 90th (348.17 ypg)
Scoring Offense Rank: 89th (24 ppg)
Rushing Offense Rank: 95th (120.42 ypg)
Passing Offense Rank: 65th (222.75 ypg)
Sack Allowed Rank: 90th (2.42 spg)
QB Ryan Nassib-259 of 425 (60.9%), 2,685 yards, 22 TD’s, 9 INT’s
RB Antwan Bailey-240 carries, 1,097 yards, 6 TD’s, 29 catches, 200 yards, 1 TD (receiving)
WR Alec Lemon-68 catches, 839 yards, 6 TD’s
TE Nick Provo-51 catches, 537 yards, 7 TD’s

Total Offense Rank: 18th (476 ypg)
Scoring Offense Rank: 55th (30 ppg)
Rushing Offense Rank: 40th (187 ypg)
Passing Offense Rank: 27th (289 ypg)
Sack Allowed Rank: 22nd (1.23 spg)
QB Ryan Nassib-294 of 471 (62.4%), 3,749 yards, 26 TD’s, 10 INT’s
RB Jerome Smith-227 carries, 1,171 yards, 3 TD’s
RB Prince-Tyson Gulley-158 carries, 830 yards, 9 TD’s, 33 catchs, 282 yards, 2 TD’s (receiving)
WR Alec Lemon-79 catches, 1,070 yards, 7 TD’s
WR Marcus Sales-64 catches, 882 yards, 8 TD’s

The jump Syracuse made from where it was in 2009 to where it is now at the conclusion of 2012 is monumental. The numbers don’t lie and the Bills are getting a guy who is going to model his scheme after what the Saints do. He brought a similar system to Syracuse and you can see that in the RB distribution the continued use of the RB in the passing game, and the high accuracy numbers from the QB. Marrone knew he had a limited team from a talent stand point and needed to operate a system that allowed for his players to play to their talents and develop their skills.

The Bills are getting a coach who isn’t going to be afraid to try new things and give multiple players a chance to make plays. He has shown time and time again that no matter what forces the change (graduation, injury, or players leaving) Marrone will adapt and succeed. Before diving into the numbers I wasn’t 100% sure of this hire and worried about duplicating our mistakes with Gailey, but now I can see what made Marrone such an attractive candidate to multiple teams.