Bills’ Marrone feels he’s ‘best person for job’

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - It’s been such a whirlwind of a week for Doug Marrone _ from a bowl game at Yankee Stadium to NFL interviews in Arizona _ that it was difficult for the Buffalo Bills new coach to get his bearings on Monday.

All that mattered was that he ended up in the state of New York, a place where the Bronx-born Marrone has always felt at home: Be it playing and then coaching at Syracuse, and now getting his first NFL head-coaching shot in Buffalo.

“I had some opportunities to make a choice, and I’ve chosen to be here,” Marrone said, shortly after being introduced as the 16th coach in the Bills‘ 53-year history. “You have to be at the place where you’re most comfortable, and I’m most comfortable here in western New York.”

Capped by a 38-14 win over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28, Marrone went 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse. He was credited for reviving a program that had gone 26-57 in its previous seven seasons.

In Buffalo, the 48-year-old Marrone takes over a week after Chan Gailey was fired following three consecutive losing seasons.

Marrone becomes the Bills‘ fifth coach in 12 years, and inherits a franchise that newly promoted team president Russ Brandon described as having a “tarnished” reputation.

“We wanted to identify top talent to lead this organization to where all of our fans and stakeholders deserve to be, and that’s back to a championship contender,” Brandon said. “And we believe we just did that.”

Marrone was the second of only five candidates Buffalo interviewed over a four-day span in Arizona as part of what Brandon vowed would be an “exhaustive” search.

Brandon described the search as being “thorough” and “exhilarating,” noting the Bills met with Marrone four times before identifying him as their candidate on Saturday.

General manager Buddy Nix went further in saying the Bills didn’t have time to waste or risk missing out on Marrone.

“We could have gone another day, and we would have been starting over,” Nix said. “We knew the guy we wanted when we interviewed him. And there he is. So why go further?”

Marrone also interviewed with the Cleveland Browns, and was also linked as a potential candidate for job openings in Philadelphia and San Diego.

Marrone’s challenge in Buffalo is turning around a team whose 13-season playoff drought is the NFL’s longest active streak, and a team that’s not had a winning record since 2004, when it finished 9-7.

“I’m not going to talk about the coaches that were before me, and I don’t know what their philosophy was. But I do understand the responsibility that I have,” Marrone said. “I’m excited about this. I’ve done this before. I’ve been in this league as a player, been here as a coach. I’ve gone through this change. And I’m excited to work with the players in this change.”

Described as a no-nonsense disciplinarian, Marrone returns to the NFL where the former offensive lineman spent two seasons as a player, and seven more as an assistant. He was an offensive line coach with the New York Jets from 2002-05. He then served as the New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator from 2006-08, where his arrival coincided with the team signing star quarterback Drew Brees.

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