Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone likes that Jim Schwartz has head-coaching experience. (Michael Conroy / Associated Press)
Indianapolis — When Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone was offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints in 2007, his team lost at home to the Tennessee Titans, 31-14.
At the time, Jim Schwartz was the coordinator of the Titans defense that forced four interceptions by Drew Brees. Marrone said Thursday that helped Schwartz, fired as the Lions’ head coach after last season, land the defensive coordinator job in Buffalo.
“Especially having myself come from the offensive side of the ball most of my career, I look at people and I say to myself, 'Who did I not like going against?'” Marrone said at the NFL combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Schwartz was fired Dec. 30 after the Lions lost six of their last seven games to finish 7-9. He finished with a 29-51 record in five seasons in Detroit, and instead of taking a break from coaching, Schwartz joined the Buffalo staff Jan. 24.
Schwartz was defensive coordinator for the Titans from 2001-08, which helped him earn the head gig with the Lions in 2009.
Marrone said he got to know Schwartz through Mike Munchak and the late Mike Heimerdinger, both of whom were on staff with Schwartz in Tennessee.
“I knew how he worked; I knew how he prepared,” Marrone said. “I knew it was difficult schematically to go against, and I thought it was a great fit and a great move by our organization.”
Marrone also thinks Schwartz’s experience as a head coach will help him with the Bills.
“I love it,” he said. “I always tell people when I was an assistant coach … I would always say, ‘Gosh, what’s the head coach doing? Where is he? What’s going on?’
“Then when you become the head coach you’re like, ‘Holy cow, I can’t believe I ever questioned that. Now I know everything he had to do.’ And I think that when people in an organization, especially on your staff, can appreciate some of the things that you have to do in your responsibility as a head coach, I think it goes a long way.”
The Bills also hired former Lions quarterbacks coach Todd Downing, who worked with Buffalo quarterback E.J. Manuel at the Senior Bowl in 2013.
“They had a good relationship there,” Marrone said. “I was able to watch Todd, watch the interaction there, and E.J. had a lot of great things to say.”