Capitals

Bills' Marrone feels he's 'best person for job'

201301061636597992280-p2.jpeg

Bills' Marrone feels he's 'best person for job'

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) It's been such a whirlwind of a week for Doug Marrone - from a bowl game at Yankee Stadium to NFL interviews in Arizona - that it was difficult for the Buffalo Bills new coach to get his bearings on Monday.

All that mattered was that he ended up in the state of New York, a place where the Bronx-born Marrone has always felt at home: Be it playing and then coaching at Syracuse, and now getting his first NFL head-coaching shot in Buffalo.

``I had some opportunities to make a choice, and I've chosen to be here,'' Marrone said, shortly after being introduced as the 16th coach in the Bills' 53-year history. ``You have to be at the place where you're most comfortable, and I'm most comfortable here in western New York.''

Capped by a 38-14 win over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28, Marrone went 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse. He was credited for reviving a program that had gone 26-57 in its previous seven seasons.

In Buffalo, the 48-year-old Marrone takes over a week after Chan Gailey was fired following three consecutive losing seasons.

Marrone becomes the Bills' fifth coach in 12 years, and inherits a franchise that newly promoted team president Russ Brandon described as having a ``tarnished'' reputation.

``We wanted to identify top talent to lead this organization to where all of our fans and stakeholders deserve to be, and that's back to a championship contender,'' Brandon said. ``And we believe we just did that.''

Marrone was the second of only five candidates Buffalo interviewed over a four-day span in Arizona as part of what Brandon vowed would be an ``exhaustive'' search.

Brandon described the search as being ``thorough'' and ``exhilarating,'' noting the Bills met with Marrone four times before identifying him as their candidate on Saturday.

General manager Buddy Nix went further in saying the Bills didn't have time to waste or risk missing out on Marrone.

``We could have gone another day, and we would have been starting over,'' Nix said. ``We knew the guy we wanted when we interviewed him. And there he is. So why go further?''

Marrone also interviewed with the Cleveland Browns, and was also linked as a potential candidate for job openings in Philadelphia and San Diego.

Marrone's challenge in Buffalo is turning around a team whose 13-season playoff drought is the NFL's longest active streak, and a team that's not had a winning record since 2004, when it finished 9-7.

``I'm not going to talk about the coaches that were before me, and I don't know what their philosophy was. But I do understand the responsibility that I have,'' Marrone said. ``I'm excited about this. I've done this before. I've been in this league as a player, been here as a coach. I've gone through this change. And I'm excited to work with the players in this change.''

Described as a no-nonsense disciplinarian, Marrone returns to the NFL where the former offensive lineman spent two seasons as a player, and seven more as an assistant. He was an offensive line coach with the New York Jets from 2002-05. He then served as the New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator from 2006-08, where his arrival coincided with the team signing star quarterback Drew Brees.

The Bills also interviewed former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

The Bills were scheduled to meet with Mike McCoy in Denver on Saturday, but the Broncos offensive coordinator postponed the interview.

Marrone has had little time to enjoy a 38-14 victory over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl, which he called his ``greatest win.'' On Dec. 31, after driving home, he attended the men's basketball game in which the Orange beat Central Connecticut, 96-62. He celebrated new year's eve at Orange coach Jim Boeheim's home. Soon after, his phone started ringing with news about potential job offers.

As a result, Marrone on Monday was short on answers when it came to his vision regarding the Bills.

He said he'd have to begin looking at film before determining the status of starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who's future in Buffalo is in question. Nix has already said he intends to improve the position in the draft and potentially in free agency. Fitzpatrick is also due a $3 million bonus in March from the six-year, $59 million contract extension he signed in October 2011.

It was too early to ask Marrone about who he might hire as assistants. He would only say he's looking for coaches with NFL experience to fill his two coordinators' jobs.

Same thing about how Marrone intends to improve a high-priced but underachieving defense that was one of the NFL's worst during Gailey's three seasons.

``I'm excited to get back to work soon,'' Marrone said. ``It's a lot of responsibility. I feel I'm the best person for this job.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

capture_dsp.png
NBC Sports Washington

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

Quick Links

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.