The last time Doug Marrone was in the NFL, he was - in name, at least - the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints in 2008, the year before their world championship season. That year, the Saints rode the NFL's No. 1-ranked offense to a win in Super Bowl XLIV.
Marrone brings a very similar offensive system to his new job with the Buffalo Bills, and major changes are forthcoming to the team's personnel - particularly at wide receiver, where two fairly well-established restricted free agents will not be returning. In '09, the Saints had seven players catch 35 or more passes; let's review those seven players and try to find Bills players that can offer similar skill sets.
Marques Colston (70 receptions, 1,074 yards, 9 TD)
Colston is a former seventh-round pick out of Hofstra that has spent his entire career playing with Drew Brees; as a result, he's consistently put up excellent numbers in his now seven-year career. He's not a great athlete, but he's the team's go-to receiver - one that's excellent in the red zone and keeps the chains moving.
Bills equivalent: Stevie Johnson. Another former seventh-round pick, Johnson has strung together three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and, with any luck, could now embark on a career trajectory strikingly similar to Colston's, at least statistically. Johnson is a different athlete - he's not as physically imposing, but he's a smoother route-runner - but he offers many of the same general traits to the offense.
Devery Henderson (51 receptions, 804 yards, 2 TD)
A 2004 second-round pick, Henderson hadn't done much as a Saint until Brees showed up, and hadn't caught more than 32 passes in a season until 2009. In this offense, Henderson was the Saints' vertical threat, assigned with taking the top off of defenses.
Bills equivalent: T.J. Graham. Last year's third-round pick is very raw and has a lot of work to do, but there's no question that he has the type of vertical speed to accomplish what Henderson has accomplished for years in Sean Payton's offense.
Buffalo Bills Skill Players Compared To 2009 New Orleans Saints
Buffalo Rumblings | Feb 26