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Marrone was Saints' best secret

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Offensive coordinator finally gets the credit for a job well done By Rick Cleveland Gannett news services JACKSON, Miss. — Sean Payton was the slam dunk choice as the pro football's Coach of the Year in 2006. No contest there. ...

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Old 07-31-2007, 07:16 PM   #1
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Cool Marrone was Saints' best secret

Offensive coordinator finally gets the credit for a job well done

By Rick Cleveland
Gannett news services

JACKSON, Miss. — Sean Payton was the slam dunk choice as the pro football's Coach of the Year in 2006. No contest there. He earned it.
It says here Payton's best move of all might have been hiring Doug Marrone as his offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Because if they gave an award for NFL assistant coach of the year, Marrone would have won it, hands down.

Payton called the plays, but Marrone patched together an offensive line that included not a single player who had started at his position before as a New Orleans Saint.

"Let's call a spade a spade," Jeff Faine, the Saints center, said Saturday. "The offensive line was considered the weak link. We were the big question mark. We were considered a rag tag group. We knew it. Everybody knew it.

"We approached it that way. Coach Marrone approached it that way in meetings. He was very frank about it. His philosophy is that the offensive linemen should be the toughest, hardest working players on the field. We all bought into that."

They blocked their way to respect. They also paved the way for the NFL's most productive offense. The splendid job Marrone did flew under the radar, at least partly because Payton's gag order on his assistant coaches. It's difficult to write about a coach when you can't talk to him.

Payton was taking a cue from his former boss Bill Parcells, who believed coaching staffs should speak with a single voice, that of the head coach. The NFL rightfully passed a rule in the off-season that requires reasonable access to assistant coaches for media interviews.

Marrone spoke to us Saturday, and if Payton was worried about his guys speaking out of turn, he need not have worried about Marrone.

Payton's training camp mantra this year has been: "Last year means nothing." Marrone is an echo of his boss.

Never mind that all five offensive line starters return and all are healthy. Never mind that the Saints have added depth through the draft.

"We're starting from scratch," Marrone said. "We can't take anything for granted. One year into the system, we have to be even better."

The Saints offensive line should be. Much of an offensive line's effectiveness is determined by its cohesiveness. Used to be, the best NFL lines were those that worked and played together for five years or more.

These days, with free agency, that's almost impossible. But at least these Saints will have played together for one year.

Faine was a three-year starter (2003-05) at Cleveland before he says, half-jokingly, "They basically threw me out of town."

Actually, the Saints got Faine as an add-in on a trade of second round draft choices. The Browns thought so much of him they basically gave him away. He was joined in the line by guards Jamar Nesbit (a journeyman who was undrafted out of college) and Jahri Evans (a rookie out of Bloomsburg), and tackles Jon Stinchcomb (who had played in just 10 games over three previous seasons) and Jammal Brown (moved from right tackle to left tackle, where he was playing for the first time).

This time last year, they looked like misfits. They wound up allowing only 23 sacks, fourth best in the league. Payton said Marrone deserves much credit.

Said Payton of Marrone, "When you look at all the changes we had and all the new people playing new positions, he did an outstanding job, not just coaching the line but as offensive coordinator. I think he's going to be a tremendous head coach in this league some day. Right now, I'm excited he's part of my staff."

Marrone worked four seasons with the New York Jets before joining the Saints. He and Payton and never worked together, but Payton knew him and knew his reputation.

"I knew enough to know if I could get him, I would," Payton said.

And he did. The rest, as they say is, history. Buried history.

"We're starting from scratch," Marrone said, even if they aren't this time.

"Everybody can say what they want about Brees, Deuce, Bush, Colston, and the gang, but it all starts right here upfront and those guys did one hell of a job."

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Old 08-01-2007, 08:08 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: New Orleans
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Re: Marrone was Saints' best secret

We can't give Marrone enough credit. This was a makeshift line coming into last year and it's amazing the job that they did together. No one was a straight face can say they knew the OL would be that good. Kudos to Marrone and another year of the line gelling together... scary isn't it?
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