Orange Watch: Former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone has been solid in NFL

Under the radar, former SU coach Doug Marrone has done as good a job as any of his 31 NFL counterparts this season
Under the radar, former SU coach Doug Marrone has done as good a job as any of his 31 NFL counterparts this season

Item: He may have angered Syracuse fans by bolting for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2013 and suddenly halting a successful rebuild of the program, but there’s no doubt that ex-SU offensive lineman Doug Marrone, guiding the AFC South Division’s first place Jacksonville Jaguars, can coach at the sport’s highest level.

As conservative as he seems on the sidelines, a football coach who is loathe taking huge risks, Doug Marrone, the fifth coach in the history of the Jaguars franchise, is a pretty good gambler.

How else to explain his late 2014 decision to opt out of his contract with the Bills as new ownership was about to take over, triggering an automatic $4 million dollar kicker to his bank account, even if it meant that he might not be an NFL head coach the next season?

» Related: Late in the season, Syracuse couldn’t hide defensive problems

Marrone did interview for the Jets top job but didn’t sync with ownership, ending up taking one step back in 2015 being named the Jaguars assistant head coach offense-offensive line coach, before replacing Gus Bradley on an interim basis for the final two games of the 2016 season, and having the interim label dropped last January, a move that now looks brilliant by Jacksonville’s flamboyant owner Shahid Khan.

At 9-4 with a huge win at Pittsburgh in October in their pocket, and second overall in the NFL in team defense, the Jags host 4-9 Houston Sunday, next play at 3-10 San Francisco, and finish with a huge game at second place Tennessee (8-5), eyeing not only the division title and the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2007, but the No. 3 seed (or higher) in the AFC and a home playoff game (or even a bye) the first weekend of January.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 554 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.