- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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There are varying opinions on the Buffalo Bills' hiring of former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone.
Skeptics say Marrone was a .500 coach in college and was never a head coach in the NFL. Supporters say Marrone has quality NFL experience as an assistant and is known for turning around struggling teams, which is what the Bills need.
Either way, Marrone's level of success will mostly be determined by his ability to maximize Buffalo's talent. The Bills were a puzzling team of underachievers in 2012, and finding out why should be one of Marrone's first orders of business once he hires a coaching staff.
The Bills were 6-10, but they are certainly not a talentless team. That is why the front office kept its jobs and former Bills head coach Chan Gailey got the ax after the season.
Marrone would be wise to study plenty of last year's tape in order to avoid repeating Gailey's mistakes. For example, Marrone can build his offense around dynamic tailback C.J. Spiller, which Gailey did not. Marrone also must get the most out of $100 million defensive end Mario Williams, which Gailey also failed to do.
The same goes for the quarterback position. I expect the Bills to cut Ryan Fitzpatrick before his $3 million roster bonus is due in March. I don’t see why Marrone would work with such a limited and turnover-prone quarterback in his first year when the Bills can find other options via the draft or free agency.
Marrone will take over a Buffalo team which has talent at many positions. If players such as Williams, Spiller, receiver Steve Johnson, center Eric Wood, rookie corner Stephon Gilmore and defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams play up to their potential in 2013, Marrone could have a successful first year in Buffalo. However, most players in this group either underachieved or weren't consistent -- and the old coaching staff deserved much of the blame.