At the close of the Buffalo Bills 2012 regular season, head coach Chan Gailey was fired. The call game as a result of Gailey’s record, posting three consecutive losing seasons since being hired in 2010. Gailey is just one of many members of the Bills organization that has failed to earn them a playoff appearance in 13 seasons. While the Bills have expired four coaches over 11 years, they have also gone through nine quarterbacks over the last 15 years, each one lasting less than 2 seasons on average. Current quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, has averaged just 5 wins per season over the last four years. With the firing of head coach, Gailey, the Bills wasted no time filling the position. Just a few days later, the Bills announced that Doug Marrone was the new head coach that will prepare the team for the 2013 season.
Marrone has had 7 years of NFL experience but his most recent experience is with that of the Syracuse Orange NCAA Division I football organization. After serving as the New York Jet’s offensive line coach from 2002 to 2005 and then the New Orleans Saint’s assistant coach, along side Sean Payton, from 2006 to 2008, Doug Marrone was hired as the Syracuse University head football coach. With previous ties to Syracuse, Doug Marrone described his hiring as head coach at the University as a “dream job”. His mission was to perform a complete makeover of a football program that had been in caught in a downward spiral since the late 90’s upon the graduation of Syracuse star quarterback, Donovan McNabb. Since then the program suffered immensely with attendance at the Carrier dome at an all-time low. The team continued to perform poorly with no sign of improvement under Greg Robinson, the man who replaced Paul Pasqualoni after he was fired due to a stagnant record and tired playbook. Doug Marrone ultimately replaced Greg Robinson and he immediately went to work.
Success in Syracuse
Marrone made it clear early on that he was in charge and that only serious players with proper attitudes had a place on the team. Marrone brought in all new staffers and did not hesitate to revoke scholarships from players that were deemed unworthy. His move freed up room for new talent that would fit with the program he had detailed while also setting an example for what the tone would be like under the next four years of his leadership. With hard work and discipline, Marrone successfully helped the Syracuse football program turn a corner. He led the Orange to two 8-5 seasons and received bids to two Pinstripe Bowls, victorious in both appearances, with the most recent coming on December 29, 2012 against West Virginia.
On to Buffalo
Marrone is expected to work the same magic in Buffalo that he did in Syracuse, using his disciplinary tactics, intelligent recruiting and uptempo offense to revamp the desperate Bills football program.
With the game of football or any sport comes injuries, however when those injuries are forced purposely by the opposing team or player then that’s when it becomes a problem. The NFL has been mostly known for this issue as it’s such a common occurrence that the NFL has addressed the issue with what’s known as the “bounty rule.”
Now while there have been many past cases or rumors of teams doing or putting out bounties, news today broke that not only the New Orleans Saints were doing it but between 22 out and 27 defensive players as well as at least one assistant coach was apart of the Saints bounty program.
Reports say that the program was maintained by an assistant coach that was in charge of a bounty pool that had up to $50,000 in it.
Knockouts were worth $1,500 and cart-offs were worth $1,000. Those payments were doubled, sometimes tripled for playoff games. Reports also say that some of the opposing players that were targeted were quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner.
“In the week of the NFC Championship Game,” Adam Schefter said on NFL Live Friday, “Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma put $10,000 in cash on a table and said ‘this goes to the guy that knocks out Brett Favre.’” Those weren’t Vilma’s exact words, but they were similar to those, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said.
Vilma or any other player from the Saints Organization has yet to respond.
However NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did in a statement saying, “The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for ‘performance,’ but also for injuring opposing players,” Goodell said “The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity.”
“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated. We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it.”
The Saints have yet to suffer any consequences or penalties as this is all just speculation and rumors at this point though it doesn’t look good as it seems true as there was a league release statement. However if this is true, the Saints could face some serious penalties such as, loss of draft picks, suspensions, and definitely huge money fines.
The league release also mentioned that Saints head coach, Sean Payton was not involved in the bounty program, though he was aware and as we know he didn’t do anything to try and stop it.
In the first round of the NFL Playoffs the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans faced off in Houston where the winner of the game would face the Baltimore Ravens. Striking first the Cincinnati Bengals would take the lead off of a one yard touchdown run from Cedric Benson.
It was a drive that was lead by rookie quarterback Andy Dalton who was trying to one up the other rookie on the opposing sideline; T.J. Yates. However Yates would respond striking back on the next drive which he would set up running back Arian Foster for an eight yard touchdown.
Both teams would go onto score field goals in the second quarter, however with less than a minute to go in the first half Dalton would throw a pick to J.J. Watt who would take it all the way to the end zone for a score. It was a costly turnover right at the end of the half that was the turning point of the game that may have cost them the game.
Coming out in the second half it would be all Houston as there was no problem as the Texans would score twice knocking the Bengals out of the playoffs, 31-10 your final.
In game two of the day was the NFC Wild Card matchup between the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints. It was a game that was set for a shoot out as both teams had high powered offenses lead by high powered quarterbacks who both (Drew Brees and Mathew Stafford) threw for 5,000 plus yards on the season (Stafford 5,038 and Brees 5,476).
The Lions who received the ball first, would score on the opening drive off of a 10 yard Will Heller touchdown reception from Stafford. However as we saw in the first game, scoring first in the game didn’t necessarily mean that the game was going to result in a win.
Stopping the Saints on their next to drives, the Lions would lead 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. Opening up the second quarter the Saints would score off of a two yard Darren Sproles touchdown tying the game at 7-7. Though, the Lions wouldn’t settle as they would respond with a 13 yard touchdown reception from Calvin Johnson thrown by Stafford, 14-7 Lions lead.
Holding the Saints scoreless on their next drive and to a field goal on their last drive the Lions would head into the locker room up, 14-10. That first half deficit was the second first half deficit at the Super Dome this season for the Saints as the only other time that it happened was against the Houston Texans 16-10. Luckily for the Saints, they would go onto win that game 40-33.
Starting the second half off the Saints would go 78 yards on just four plays to score on a 41 yard touchdown reception to Devery Henderson thrown by Brees, 17-14 Saints. Though the Lions wouldn’t respond as the Saints stopped them and continued the beating in the making as they would score again off of a three yard Jimmy Graham touchdown thrown by Brees giving them a 24-14 lead.
The Lions would respond with a score cutting it to three however once the fourth quarter would start, the Lions would just collapse as the Saints would go onto win 45-28.
The Houston Texans will face the Baltimore Ravens next week and the New Orleans Saints will face the San Francisco 49ers.