A surprising day

Unless New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday or Monday, it usually is a fairly quiet day around the NFL and football in general. Not this week, as there were two big pieces of news in the NFL yesterday and a statement game in college football.

Doug Marrone walks away from Buffalo

The most shocking news of the day was Doug Marrone, who had done an excellent job, resigned as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. When Marrone was hired two years ago, there was a clause in his contract that stated that in the event the team was sold, Marrone could opt out of the remaining years of his contract within three days of the Bills season ending.

With founder and owner Ralph Wilson dying earlier in 2014 and the club being sold to the Pegula family, Marrone had the right to exercise that clause. He did so late yesterday afternoon to the surprise of many.
Marrone is now a free agent so to speak and is free to negotiate with any other NFL club in need of a head coach. Right now, that number is four (New York Jets, San Francisco, Chicago and Oakland). Based on the reaction of New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, the Jets just may be the favorite to land Marrone.

What is surprising to me, is how some of the Buffalo media is handling the situation. Many are downright happy that Marrone is gone and shocked that national media are surprised. Well, I may be considered “national media”, but I am also a native Buffalonian and I have been a Bills fan since the team began operations in 1960.

Trust me guys, this isn’t good. Doug Marrone is a quality coach! In his second year on the job, he took a team that hasn’t had a winning season in years to a 9-7 record. This isn’t a team that is loaded with talent. Yes, they are getting better, but the overall talent on this team is average. Marrone may have been conservative in his thinking, but he knew and understood what his team was. He got the best out of them every week and they were “in” each and every game. There are plenty of NFL clubs that would do anything for that.

It must be pointed out that this is a huge gamble on Marrone’s part. If he doesn’t land one of the jobs that are open, he will be on the outside looking in. The good news is that he can afford for that to happen. He gets paid $4,000,000 to walk away! Jimmy Sexton, his agent, did a great job negotiating that contract.

Tom Gamble and the Philadelphia Eagles “mutually” part ways

Two years ago, after being interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles head coaching job, Chip Kelly turned down the job and announced he would be staying at Oregon. A short time later, Kelly did an about face and accepted the position. One of the reasons was that he was going to be allowed to hand pick his own personnel guy. That guy turned out to be Tom Gamble who, at the time, was a personnel executive with the San Francisco 49ers. While Howie Roseman remained as general manager, Gamble was Kelly’s hand-picked guy and carried a lot of weight in draft and other personnel decisions. In essence, that took away some of Roseman’s power.

When you look at how the Eagles have drafted and what they have done in free agency the last two years, a grade of “average” may be too nice. According to some in the know, the scouting department lost clout in the process, and most personnel decisions were made more on coaches' opinions rather than scouts, with Gamble siding with the coaches.

With the Eagles losing three out of their last four games and missing the playoffs, Roseman had a chance to regain some of his lost control and jumped at it. That meant Gamble was out. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the offseason plays out as far as free agency signings and the draft. I expect Roseman will have a lot more “say” in who the Eagles draft/sign in 2015.

TCU manhandles Ole Miss

Yesterday, TCU was on a mission and was going to make a statement. Going into the final week of the college season, the Playoff Committee had TCU ranked third. All they needed was a convincing win, and they would be in the first every college football playoff.

TCU did their part, easily beating Iowa State 55-3. They thought they were in, but the next day they found that they were dropped to #6 in the playoff poll. An undeserving Ohio State team jumped them to grab the fourth and final spot.

Yesterday in Atlanta at the Peach Bowl, TCU made a mockery of the Playoff Committee destroying a good Ole Miss team 42-3! This game wasn’t as close as the score as TCU could have easily scored more.
Ole Miss, for most of the season, was a top five team, and TCU beat them in all phases of the game. If Ohio State doesn’t beat Alabama tonight, the committee is going to look foolish in the eyes of everyone but Big Ten fans.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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