One of the big arguments I have been hearing in favor of the Jets hiring Doug Marrone can be summarized by the following statement, "He isn't THAT bad."
It is true. Marrone is not a terrible coach. The odds of him coming in and failing to the degree of Rich Kotite seem low. Marrone is not a top notch coach, though, and this is why the Jets should look in another direction.
You can win a championship with a solid but unspectacular right guard. You can win a championship with an average defensive backs coach. It is very, very difficult to win a championship in the NFL without a top head coach. Average will not do. Marrone's record speaks to a coach who is not at that top level.
Many point to Marrone's 25-25 record in four years as head coach of Syracuse on the college level. Sometimes records can be deceiving. In Marrone's case, he took over a program that had won a total of 10 games in the previous four seasons under Greg Robinson. Marrone won 25 in the same span and left with an 8-5 record.
That is a solid job to be certain, but it was hardly spectacular. There wasn't a steady upward trajectory. Marrone started with four wins, then moved to eight in his second year. In his third year, Syracuse regressed to five wins before getting back to eight in his fourth and final campaign. By the fourth year, the team was full of his players. Eight wins in a watered down Big East isn't exactly the stuff from which legends are made.
It isn't THAT tough to win eight games at Syracuse. Robinson's predecessor at Syracuse, Paul Pasqualoni, won at least eight games in seven of his 14 years coaching Syracuse. Pasqualoni also accomplished this when college teams played 11 regular season games instead of 12 so he had one less game to accomplish this. Is anybody calling for Paul Pasqualoni to be hired?
With the Bills, Marrone had a 15-17 record in two seasons. There was some good. He made some superb staffing hires on the defensive side of the ball. There was also bad. Despite Marrone being an offensive guy, the Bills averaged 5.0 yards per play in 2014. That was the same as the Jets.
The Bills stifled Aaron Rodgers one week to score a critical victory. The next week, they lost to the Raiders and were eliminated as a result.
Given the track record, it is difficult to see Marrone as anything better than average.
The Jets are in a position where the truly big names who have options probably aren't going to want to work for them. These people can wait for the perfect opportunity. They can sit until the perfect franchise with the perfect owner will come along.
There are, however, plenty of talented and hungry coaches who want to make a name for themselves and would jump at the opportunity to coach the Jets. The Jets may not land an established giant, but there is every opportunity to find the next Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, or Mike McCarthy. None of those were household names when they were hired.
Can I say with confidence how Dan Quinn or Todd Bowles will pan out? No, but I think the Jets need to hire somebody with the potential for greatness rather than somebody who has proven to be mediocre like Marrone. It's too tough to build a contender in the NFL without top coaching.