Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone apparently went to the Bill Belichick School of Public Relations in the offseason.
Belichick, the notoriously cantankerous coach of the New England Patriots, has long had nothing interesting or useful to say in the media. With a 163-61 record with the Patriots, that’s just fine with New England fans.
In his second year on the job, Marrone – who went 6-10 in his first year with the Bills -- has gone out of his way during the first two-plus weeks of training camp at St. John Fisher College to provide next to no insight on his team.
Things were at their worst during his press conference Tuesday, which can be found here on the Bills’ official website. He was asked a total of 13 questions. A sampling of the highlights:
Question: Specifically, what would you like to see out of the offense this week?
Marrone: “We want to score more points than our opponents.”
Question: How disappointed were you that (the offense wasn’t) able to get into the end zone with a short field after the fumble?
Marrone: “You always get disappointed.”
For comparison’s sake, here is a press conference from almost a year ago to the day – on Aug. 7, 2013.
Most interesting, Marrone explains why the Bills worked starting left tackle Cordy Glenn at guard during practice – without even being asked about it. He also provides an in-depth injury report on former quarterback Kevin Kolb.
This year, Marrone has stopped providing injury updates altogether. Instead, he simply looks at Scott Berchtold, the team’s senior vice president of communications.
The idea that Marrone was simply frustrated over the opening loss in the Hall of Fame game doesn’t seem to carry much weight – his press conferences all training camp have been similarly laconic. Here is his press conference from Aug. 1.
Maybe this is the coach’s idea of changing the culture. Obviously, the franchise could use it.
Certainly some of the questions – from myself and every other reporter – could be worded better, or just be better in general. But they have related directly to football. Marrone hasn’t been pressed on Marcell Dareus, for example, even though the Bills are violating league rules by not making the troubled defensive tackle available for interviews.
It’s hard to see what Marrone is accomplishing with his approach. If anything, it puts more of the media onus on players.
To put it simply, the coach seems stressed out. The Bills’ self-imposed playoffs-or-bust approach might be doing it, and that’s only multiplied by an impending ownership change. Add in that Dareus can’t get out of his own way, the starting left tackle has a mystery illness, the star linebacker tore his ACL doing something the team won’t say and the starting quarterback opened the preseason 2 of 7 for 19 yards, and the pressure only intensifies.
There is a segment of Bills Nation that will never care about what Marrone says. Their interest is only in seeing the team win. Completely understandable.
Here would be a good time to mention again the Bills went 6-10 under Marrone in his first season.
Others have no interest in hearing the media complain about the coach’s responses to questions. Again, I get that. Not everyone will agree with this opinion, and that’s completely fine.
On the other hand, there are Bills fans who would like to hear from the head coach on the state of their favorite team. Marrone is failing them. That’s not a good look for the organization.
Part of Marrone’s responsibility as an NFL head coach is to meet regularly with the media. He’s doing the bare minimum when it comes to that.