I have been reading a novel called "Then Levy Said to Kelly...." by Jim Gehman. It is subtitled The Best Buffalo Bills Stories Ever Told. In summarization it is a collection of first-hand accounts or bios of some the players and personnel to walk the halls/fields of the Bills organization. There are players discussed like Wray Carlton, who scored the first TD in Bills' history and Freddy Smerlas (who was, at the time, known as one of the league’s best pranksters). Fun stories and anecdotes by first-hand account run aplenty by a wide range of players/staff.
One of the most memorable stories for me was by Chuck Knox. He was brought into the organization in 1978 as vice prez of football operations, basically the HC. He inherited a team that needed a rebuild in almost every department. In 1978 he went about doing that. Knox oversaw the complete gutting of the scouting department and high turnover of veteran players. He wanted veterans with some mental toughness and demanded more from his team than the previous coach (Jim Ringo, I believe). He also felt the team needed an attitude adjustment as well. With all the changes the team had they still had a weak record but were respected and were acknowledged as a competitive squad; eventually winning the AFC East for couple years. Even with the poor first year, Knox mentioned that he didn't regret taking the job. He enjoyed his time with the LA Rams (they won their division title five years in a row up to the point when Knox left) but relished the challenge to rebuild another franchise. After reading this short account of one of the most revered coaches in Bills' history (side note: he was the coach that brought the Bills their first win against the Dolphins after ten years of futility), it got me thinking. Knox and his unique situation reminded me of a similar coach. You guessed it: Marrone.
Marrone took the HCing job with the same mentality: relished the challenge to remake the look of the franchise. He has witnessed and ushered in to a certain degree, the overhaul of our scouting department and the type of players are desired. Marrone has brought in tough veterans (Dixon and Spikes) and outsourced old regime personnel that became complacent towards losing. He has also made it a mission of his to change the attitude of the team (paintball trips, banners reminding current players of past success, and the inclusion of retired personnel into team activities). Even though Marrone's record his first year was only 6-10, they were mostly competitive. There were no easy wins for their opponents with only a couple exceptions.
Players like defensive end Ben Williams expressed the arrival of Knox as a "breath of fresh air" (Gehman, Then Levy Said to Kelly, Triumph Books, Chicago). I have heard and witnessed current players vocalize similar opinions in regards to Marrone. I think that Marrone is the right coach and he is compiling the right mix of players to create his own history worth remembering.