Doug Marrone steps down as head coach of Bills

Marrone had a 15-17 overall record in two seasons in Buffalo.

Isaiah J. Downing/Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

Doug Marrone ended 2014 on a surprising note.

The Buffalo Bills released a statement Wednesday that Marrone has exercised an option on his contract and has stepped down as head coach effective immediately.

"We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization. We thank him for all of his hard work and leadership during his tenure and wish him and his family the best with the next chapter in their lives," new Bills owner Terry Pegula said in a statement.

"We will now begin the important process of conducting a thorough search for a new head coach as we continue to strive to reach our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans."

A league source told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News that Marrone recently asked Pegula — who bought the team this year after the death of former owner Ralph Wilson — for a contract extension and was refused. Marrone was also rebuffed when he asked for extensions for his assistant coaches.

There are multiple reports saying that according to Marrone’s contract, he will still get paid the $4 million he was due from the Bills in 2015 with no offset if he decides to take another job.

Marrone just finished his second season at the helm in Buffalo. The Bills finished with a 9-7 record in 2014 — the franchise’s first winning season in 10 years — and were 15-17 overall in Marrone’s two seasons.

The decision to step down came two weeks after Marrone told reporters he wasn’t going anywhere after the Bills were eliminated from playoff contention following a 26-24 loss at Oakland.

Marrone, a former NFL offensive lineman, was brought in because of his offensive expertise. That, however, never materialized with the Bills who were instead led by a dominant defense over the past two years.

FINAL FOUR

The Bills offense finished 19th in yards gained in 2013 and regressed this year by finishing 26th. And Buffalo’s running attack was particularly pedestrian this year in finishing with 1,482 yards rushing, the team’s fewest in a 16-game season.

The offensive struggles were in part the result of a continuing revolving door at quarterback.

EJ Manuel, the team’s first-round pick in the 2013 draft, proved injury prone in missing six games during his rookie season. This year, Manuel was benched following a 2-2 start.

He was replaced by 10-year journeyman Kyle Orton who finished the season as the starter. Orton, however, surprised the team Monday when he announced his intention to retire rather than return for another season.

Marrone had several eruptions this past season. He blew up at defensive end Jerry Hughes on the final day of training camp in August. Two weeks before the start of the season, Marrone had a heated exchange along the sideline with team president Russ Brandon.

Marrone, at times, was also terse with reporters in providing one-word answers.

He’s not the first Bills coach to step down while still under contract.

Mike Mularkey quit the team for undisclosed reasons following the 2005 season after Tom Donahoe was fired as president and general manager.

Marrone was supposed to be part of a new era in Buffalo that began with Brandon being elevated to president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2013.

Brandon hired Marrone. That spring, Doug Whaley was promoted to general manager after Buddy Nix stepped down.

The news has filtered down to Bills players and the reactions are coming out on social media.