Jags’ Dareus, Marrone talk Wild Card battle vs. Bills
By: Nick Wojton
The Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars have not faced each other during the 2017 season, and yet, Sunday’s foe for the Bills during the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend will have some familiar faces.
Former Buffalo (9-7) head coach Doug Marrone is now the Jaguars (10-6) bench boss while former first-round pick Marcell Dareus was traded to Jacksonville on October 27.
Marrone, who first joined Jacksonville as their offensive line coach in 2015 before being promoted, once walked away from a head coaching job. That was with Buffalo following the 2014 season. Due to a contract clause, after a change in ownership he could walk away with the final $4 million on his contract.
When new owners Terry and Kim Pegula bought the franchise following the death of team founder Ralph Wilson Jr., Marrone flexed that clause. It appeared Marrone would land a head coaching gig soon after, but that was not the case.
Among Marrone’s interviews, he reportedly had a bad interview with the New York Jets for their once vacant position, and eventually settled in with the Jags. On Dec. 19, 2016, Marrone was named the interim head coach and eventually had the interim tag removed nearly a year ago on Jan. 9, 2016.
Upon leaving the Bills organization, Marrone promptly exited the team. Former running back and fan favorite Fred Jackson said players received text messages from the coach. He did not address them in person. At the time Jackson said it felt like a punch in the stomach.
Since then, Marrone hasn’t addressed the situation with the Bills. This week, that continues.
“For me, obviously, the past is the past,” Marrone told Jacksonville.com on Monday. “I’m happy for them – they’ve earned it as well as we’ve earned it. My focus, obviously, is going to be on our football team. It’s as easy as that for me. My job is to coach this team. Plain and simple.”
But Marrone did acknowledge this week will be a week of people discussing his decision.
“I’m going to shoot everybody straight,” Marrone said. “That stuff happened so long ago. It’s over. I can’t put it any simpler than that. I’m not going to take away from my primary responsibility to look back on a situation that occurred three years ago. If I do that, then I shouldn’t be coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
On the other hand, the defensive tackle was fine with talking about his former team, calling it “ironic as hell.”
The Bills shipped out Dareus and his heavy contract of $60 million for a conditional draft pick, which will now be a fifth-round pick in 2018 for Buffalo. And hopefully the trade will not include any sacks, tackles, or turnovers in return on Sunday when Dareus lines up against his former team.
“It’s going to be a fun game, man,” Dareus said. “It’s going to be pretty crazy for these two teams that haven’t been [in the playoffs] for a while and to play each other.”
According to Phillp Heilman at Jacksonville.com, Dareus said he had 170 text messages from friends and former teammates when they all learned it’d be Bills vs. Jaguars.
“I’m like, ‘Dang, it’s just a 45-minute flight.’ But it’s pretty cool, man. It’s pretty cool,” Dareus said. “It’s just funny how it happened that way.”
According to First Coach News Sports Anchor Brian Chojnacki, who broke the news to Dareus that he’d be facing the his former team next week, the ex-Bill was ecstatic about to hear the news.
“Get the f— out of here! I’m so excited! Glad it’s not Tennessee because they’re a sorry team,” Dareus said to Chojnacki. “I’m about to call Kyle Williams, this is crazy!”
Kick between the two sides is slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday from EverBank Field in Jacksonville.