JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Doug Marrone probably didn’t envision this when he walked away from the Buffalo Bills last month.
After interviewing for at least three NFL head coaching jobs, Marrone landed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as assistant head coach and offensive line coach Tuesday.
He interviewed with the New York Jets, the Chicago Bears and the Atlanta Falcons, and also was considered in the mix in Denver, but didn’t get a single offer — not as head coach or offensive coordinator.
So he ended up in Jacksonville, where he’s returning to his roots as an O-line coach.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. “Had a great visit with him. It’s been a process that we tried to evaluate every piece that we can. We wanted to uncover every stone, lift it and check it all out, and I think it’s been a really good process.”
Marrone replaces George Yarno, who left the team last June to begin cancer treatment. Assistant Luke Butkus served as the interim line coach this season.
With two rookies and two second-year players starting on the line, the Jaguars gave up a franchise-record 71 sacks. Two days after the season ended, Bradley said he expected Yarno to return in 2015.
Clearly, something changed.
Bradley interviewed Marrone last week. The Jaguars, who are coaching the South team at the Senior Bowl this week, still need to hire an offensive coordinator.
Bradley met with six candidates for the job, which opened when Jedd Fisch was fired after the season. Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson and former Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase appear to be finalists for the opening.
“No major decisions have been made yet,” Bradley said. “We’re still going through that, the process with that, but hopefully it’ll come together soon.”
The Jaguars will sell Marrone’s hiring as a home run, being able to get someone with his experience to help steer a young offense.
Just about everyone else will see it as Marrone making a questionable choice to leave Buffalo.
Co-Bills owner Terry Pegula said he was “shocked,” by Marrone’s abrupt departure on New Year’s Eve. Safety Aaron Williams blasted Marrone in a tweet, posting “Lost all respect!!”
Running back Fred Jackson referred to Rex Ryan as “an upgrade” at coach. And Ryan said during his introductory news conference that the Bills deserve to have a loyal coach — a clear shot at Marrone.
Marrone stepped down after leading the Bills to a 9-7 record. It was the team’s first winning season since 2004.
An opt-out clause in Marrone’s contract was triggered when Pegula and his wife, Kim, bought the team in October. The club was sold after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March.
Marrone went 15-17 in Buffalo. He was hired after four seasons at Syracuse, where he helped revive his alma mater’s struggling program.
Marrone spent seven seasons in the NFL (2002-08) before becoming a college head coach. He served as offensive coordinator for New Orleans (2006-08), and was offensive line coach for the New York Jets for four seasons before that.
“What he brings to the table is experience,” Bradley said. “He’s had a great background with the offensive line. He’s a developmental coach and he’s proven that over the years that he coached the offensive line with things that he did when he was in New Orleans, and just the impact he’s had even in Buffalo and Syracuse. I think that’s what we need with our offensive line.”