“We can’t have a stupid guy leading this football team.” Caller from Bills post-game show WGR550.
This one simple, declarative sentence fits perfectly into the Bills zeitgeist. But, regardless of its simple beauty, it’s lost among the many angry caller comments I’ve heard since the Chiefs game. It’s safe to say from my informal sample that the unwashed masses have turned on Marrone.
And, it’s justifiable.
But hardly nuanced.
Here are three things to think on when it comes to Doug Marrone.
1. Misguided vitriol.
The blame over the anemic offense has to go somewhere, but it hasn’t come Nathaniel Hackett’s way–while Doug Marrone is practically getting Team America’d over the airwaves. This, despite the fact that the Bills offense is ranked 27th by Football Outsiders (as of last week). I assume Nathaniel Hackett has some say in what the offense does, right?
And, if you’re thinking EJ Manuel fucked up the sample, you’re wrong. It’s hard enough to blame Manuel when he’s on the sidelines handing towels to Fred Jackson, but even more so if you consider that the Bills offense was 23rd before his benching.
2. 4th down turtling.
I need to preface this. First off, I’m a card-carrying member of the, “Go for it on fourth down club.” I even think teams need should convert more two-point conversions–fuck it, I am cool with teams going for two, instead of opting for overtime. I am all about prolonging possessions and playing to win. I’m one of you.
With that said, I get where Marrone is coming from. In a vacuüm, the stats say go for it on 4th and 6. But the stats don’t account for how terrible the Bills offense is this season. I think its unfair to criticize him for trusting his defense, and special teams, over his anemic offense because of how they’re ranked statistically. Football outsiders (as of week 10) has the Bills defense fourth, the special teams fourth, and the offense 27th. One of these is not like the other, right?
What we should be criticizing is a Bills offense that isn’t trusted enough to get 6 yards when the game is on the line. Which brings me to my next point…
Nathaniel Hackett The offense is the problem.
Considering the offense the Bills are running, complaining about 4th down calls is equal to putting the cart before the horse. In the interim, more fourth down tries would give Marrone another win or two. But what does that mean to the team? Just makes it moderately above shitty. The real change in philosophy has to occur on offense, rather than on fourth downs.
The Bills offense has languished under the boy wonder. Many point to the inferior quarterbacking he has had under his disposal. Of course, this ignores the job Kyle Shanahan has done with my ex-girlfriends cousin, Bryan Hoyer. What Shanahan has done with Hoyer, he could do with Orton as well. I don’t think there is any doubting that. Now imagine for a second, a Nathaniel Hackett offense run by Bryan Hoyer.
And try to fall asleep tonight.
Free piece of advice: after the Bills address the offense, Terry Pegula should pay for Marrone’s frontal lobotomy like the Panthers did for Ron Rivera. This way the Bills keep Jim Schwartz and don’t hire Mike Smith. Not a bad idea, right?