ORCHARD PARK —
In New Orleans, Marrone's arrival coincided with the Saints signing star quarterback Drew Brees. Though coach Sean Payton called the play, Marrone helped oversee an offense that led the NFL in yards in 2006 and '08. In 2007, the Saints set a league record with 440 completions.
At Syracuse, Marrone enjoyed two 8-5 seasons — this year and in 2010 — and won two Pinstripe Bowls, including last month's 38-14 victory over West Virginia. Behind Marrone's newly installed up-tempo offense, the Orange closed last season by winning six of their final seven games.
Marrone has an offensive-minded background, and his first challenge in Buffalo will be addressing the team's needs at quarterback. It's a position that's lacked stability in Buffalo since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.
The team has since gone through nine quarterbacks who have started at least eight games. That includes current starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who's future is uncertain after going 20-33 in four seasons in Buffalo.
General manager Buddy Nix has already said he intends to improve the position in the draft and potentially in free agency. Fitzpatrick is also due a $3 million bonus in March from the six-year, $59 million contract extension he signed in October 2011.
There's work to do to improve a high-priced but underachieving defense that was one of the NFL's worst during Gailey's three seasons. And that includes last year, when the Bills allowed 435 points — the second-most in team history.
That was despite the offseason addition of defensive end Mario Williams, who signed a six-year, $100 million contract in March in becoming the NFL's highest-paid defensive player.
Brandon is open to being second-guessed in making his first major decision since being given full day-to-day operational control of the team after owner Ralph Wilson promoted him to president on Jan. 1. Brandon had vowed the coaching search would be "exhaustive" and that he "would leave no stone unturned."