A month ago, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone pulled a 74 percent approval rating from the Buffalo Rumblings community. An awful lot has changed for Marrone over the past month, most notably on his coaching staff, so it's time to revisit this poll and debate to gauge where fans are mentally on how Marrone has handled the adversity of the past four weeks.
Before things got crazy, Marrone had already fired two coaches: Ike Hilliard (wide receivers) and Chuck Driesbach (linebackers). Hilliard has since joined Jay Gruden's staff in Washington, while Driesbach landed on his feet in Cleveland.
The big departure, of course, was Mike Pettine leaving to become the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Pettine was quick to credit Marrone for helping him in the interview process, and spoke very highly of Marrone and the Bills upon his departure.
Three Bills coaches left to join Pettine in Cleveland: linebackers coach Jim O'Neil (now Cleveland's defensive coordinator), defensive assistant Jeff Hafley (now the Browns' defensive backs coach), and quality control coach Brian Fleury (Cleveland's new assistant linebackers coach). A fourth, defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, is also expected to join the Browns' staff in the same role.
Marrone moved quickly to replace Pettine, with the Bills announcing Jim Schwartz as the new defensive coordinator the day after Pettine was introduced in Cleveland. The Bills will have their fourth coordinator in as many seasons in 2014, but Marrone moved decisively on Schwartz, the former Detroit Lions head coach that will bring an aggressive reputation to Buffalo.
Two new hires to the defensive staff were introduced last week, as well: Pepper Johnson, a long-time New England assistant, will coach the defensive line, and Fred Pagac, a former Ohio State defensive coordinator and long-time Minnesota assistant, will coach linebackers. It's not clear if the Bills plan on bringing in more defensive coaches (particularly a replacement for Fleury at the quality control spot), but the major roles on defense are now filled.
Similarly, Marrone has yet to name a replacement for Hilliard at the receiver coach position - though his brand new senior offensive assistant, Jim Hostler, brings years of receiver coach experience with him from Baltimore. That is not, however, what he'll be doing in Buffalo (at least right now); instead, he'll take on a larger role. The Bills also hired Todd Downing as their new quarterbacks coach, a position that did not exist on Buffalo's staff last season.
Marrone almost certainly is not done building his coaching staff, but for the purposes of his poll, the net changes already seen are laid out below. Taken with his overall body of work from the 2013 season, where does your approval (or lack thereof) on Marrone stand today?
- Coaching departures: Ike Hilliard (WR), Mike Pettine (DC), Anthony Weaver (DL), Jim O'Neil (LB), Chuck Driesbach (LB), Jeff Hafley (defensive assistant), Brian Fleury (DQC)
- Coaching hires: Jim Schwartz (DC), Jim Hostler (senior offensive assistant), Todd Downing (QB), Pepper Johnson (DL), Fred Pagac (LB)