Doug Marrone is one of the least-known men to become an NFL head coach in a while. We learned about some of his philosophies, including his embrace of analytics, at his introductory news conference Monday, but what will a Marrone offense look like?
Marrone's history in the NFL doesn't help us too much. He was an offensive line coach with the New York Jets before having the offensive coordinator title with the New Orleans Saints. But that was a Sean Payton-run offense with Marrone focused on the offensive line.
To get a better feel of what Marrone could offer, I gave Chris Brown of Smart Football a call. His website and articles on Grantland are must-reads for anyone who loves Xs and Os. I asked what Marrone's offense was like.
"I think the attempt was to run a pro-style system with multiple tight ends, different formations, different run-game schemes," Brown said of Marrone's initial attempts at Syracuse.
The Syracuse program was awful when Marrone got there, and he helped turned it around. Still, his teams were very up and down even in Marrone's good seasons, especially toward the end of 2011.
They completely changed their approach in 2012. Syracuse re-did its entire offense in the middle of fall practice after studying Oregon and Toledo extensively in the offseason. Brown says the theory was to simplify things with one-back formations and go no-huddle more often. They simplified the pass concepts of the playbook.
The new approach took a while to pay off, but it really took hold in the middle of the season. Marrone integrated just enough zone-read options to make opponents worry.
So what does this tell us?
Marrone had a pro-style approach, but he was willing to be flexible. He certainly sounds open to some of the up-tempo and zone-read concepts that have taken the NFL by storm this season. He's willing to adapt. Brown also noted that Marrone was effective as a featured coach on a DVD teaching offensive-line technique.
"He is, in my opinion, the best position coach that I got to play for and got to be on a team with," former Saints offensive tackle Jonathan Stinchcomb told The Times-Picayune.
Judging by Marrone's embrace of analytics, he sounds willing to blend an old-school background with new approaches. He's flexible. That's a good start.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.