Doug Marrone says he left Bills with no head-coaching job in mind
Former Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone now has a home in Jacksonville.
And he's buying, not renting.
Speaking publicly for the first time since surprisingly opting out of his contract on New Year's Eve, abruptly walking away with two years remaining on a four-year deal, Marrone said Thursday that he left Buffalo with no assurances of getting another job.
''In this profession, you can't really have that,'' Marrone said. ''You really don't know. It's a league where anything can happen. But I didn't have that going in. I knew that it was all open.''
Days after he bailed on the Bills, Marrone emerged as a front-runner to replace Rex Ryan with the New York Jets. He also interviewed with Chicago and Atlanta and was in the mix in Denver, but didn't get any offers.
He eventually landed in Jacksonville as offensive line coach, a move that raised eyebrows around the league and drew laughs in Buffalo. He insists he's happy near his wife's family and ready to move forward as a position coach. He closed on a house Thursday and already has his wife and three kids in town.
''At the end of the day, I had two outstanding years in Buffalo,'' said Marrone, who declined to say whether he wants or expects to be a head coach again. ''I really can't say enough for the people within the organization, from the trainers, from the PR department, from the equipment people. They were outstanding. At the end of the day, I had a three-day window on my contract, which was obviously difficult because of the time aspect of it. My family and I made a decision to leave ... and we're not looking back and we're moving forward.
''Really, that's as simple as it is.''
It might not be that clear-cut. Marrone offered little insight into why he wanted out or why he sent a mass text to his players announcing his decision.
Most outsiders assume he expected to get another head-coaching job, and when it didn't happen, he settled for a position gig with the rebuilding Jaguars.
Marrone stepped down after leading the Bills to a 9-7 record in 2014. It was the team's first winning season since 2004. The opt-out clause in Marrone's contract went into effect after Terry Pegula and wife Kim bought the team in October.
''Everyone understood the situation,'' he said.
Not everyone seemed to agree, though.
Terry Pegula said he was ''shocked'' by Marrone's abrupt departure. Safety Aaron Williams blasted Marrone in a tweet, posting ''Lost all respect!!'' Running back Fred Jackson referred to Ryan as ''an upgrade'' at coach and told a Buffalo radio station that Marrone's departure felt like he ''got punched in the stomach.'' And Ryan said during his introductory news conference that the Bills deserve to have a loyal coach - a clear shot at Marrone.
And former Syracuse assistant Bob Casullo, who worked under Marrone in 2009 and part of 2010, ripped his former on radio.
''Self-centered, selfish, greedy,'' Casullo said of Marrone on ESPN Syracuse. ''You're reshuffling an egomaniac, less than .500 coach.''
Marrone called Casullo's comments spiteful.
''The former coach was someone that I had to let go, that I've worked with twice,'' Marrone said. ''To say that I didn't expect something like that to happen would be naive on my part. I think that sometimes when you have to make decisions that better whatever situation you're in and you're in that role, sometimes when you have to move on from people, they look to get you back. I'm not like that so I really wouldn't understand why someone would do that.''
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley first talked to Marrone last month about philosophy and culture. Once it became clear Marrone wasn't getting a head-coaching job, Bradley offered him the offensive line position, a key one since Jacksonville allowed a franchise-record 71 sacks last season.
''I felt the humility,'' Bradley said. ''When I say humility, I just felt like he said, `Gus, I think I want to grow in multiple areas both professionally and personally, and I think this culture is a good fit for me. I want to get back to coaching guys with their hand in the ground. I've had some success doing that.' ... If you look at his past and his offensive coordinator experience, he has done a tremendous job developing offensive linemen.''